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National Center for Research
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For Immediate Release
Wednesday, July 16, 2008


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Joyce McDonald
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NIH Awards More Than $33 Million to Fund State-of-the-Art Research Equipment

The National Center for Research Resources (NCRR), a part of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), announced today that it will provide $33.3 million for 20 High-End Instrumentation (HEI) grants to fund the latest generation of advanced research equipment. Awarded to research institutions nationwide, these one-time grants, which support the purchase of sophisticated research equipment costing more than $750,000, offer extraordinary potential to impact a wide variety of biomedical research in many disease areas.

"Innovative biomedical research requires frequent access to the newest and most advanced technology," said NCRR Director Barbara Alving, M.D. "High-performance equipment provides NIH-funded researchers with new discovery tools enabling a new generation of data and a new dimension of information. Tools such as these play key roles in the study of disease and the fundamental mechanisms of biological function, ultimately leading to new advances and treatments for diseases."

High-End Instrumentation awards enable the purchase of breakthrough new technologies and one-of-a-kind research tools, opening up new avenues for biomedical research. In this round of awards, NCRR is supporting the purchase of two nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) spectrometers, which are designed to view 3-D protein structures and complexes. For example, the University of Wisconsin - Madison will purchase a unique integrated liquid chromatography, mass spectrometry, and NMR system, currently unmatched at any other academic facility in the United States. This system combines three different technologies into a single powerful analytical platform useful in metabolic profiling, biomarker discovery, and studies of natural products and molecular interactions.

In addition, two high-powered electron microscopes, such as the one to Florida State University (FSU), will be supported through these awards. With its award, FSU will purchase a top-of-the-line, robotic electron microscope capable of rapid 3-D imaging of frozen specimens, enabling researchers to see the intricate interactive mechanisms of individual proteins and molecular machines within living cells. Capable of remote operation 24 hours a day, this critical research resource will provide scientists in the Southeast with an important tool to facilitate research in heart disease, hypertension, cancer, and HIV/AIDS.

Also, four more awards will support biomedical imagers that allow for noninvasive imaging at the molecular level. Researchers at the University of Pittsburgh, for example, will benefit from the latest hybrid imaging technology — a new system that combines positron emission tomography (PET) with magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) into one hybrid system. Immediately benefitting 11 NIH-funded research projects as a shared resource, this new technology offers physicians and radiologists new ways to investigate the progression of certain types of brain cancers and a variety of neurological studies, providing insight into Alzheimerís and Parkinsonís diseases. Another award will support the University of Minnesota in its purchase of an MRI and magnetic resonance spectroscopy scanner equipped with an ultra-high magnetic field for in vivo studies of animal models. The first of its kind in the nation, this innovative imaging system will offer improved sensitivity and resolution, providing scientists a critical resource to better understand a variety of brain diseases.

Other HEI awards provide for the purchase of four high-resolution mass spectrometers that allow access to the newest analytical techniques to advance the knowledge of human diseases; two supercomputers that rapidly process vast quantities of data; two cyclotrons for producing new probes for noninvasive imaging at the molecular level; and many other types of specialized equipment.

To qualify for a HEI award, institutions must identify three or more NIH-funded investigators whose research requires the requested instrument. These grants provide a maximum of $2 million each. Institutions are expected to provide an appropriate level of support for associated infrastructure, such as building alterations or renovations, technical personnel, and post-award service contracts for instrument maintenance and operation.

For more details on the 2008 HEI awardees, visit www.ncrr.nih.gov/hei_2008.

More information about the HEI program, including eligibility requirements and application guidelines, is available at: www.ncrr.nih.gov/hei.

NCRR, a part of NIH, provides laboratory scientists and clinical researchers with the resources and training they need to understand, detect, treat and prevent a wide range of diseases. NCRR supports all aspects of translational and clinical research, connecting researchers, patients, and communities across the nation. For more information, visit www.ncrr.nih.gov.

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) — The Nation's Medical Research Agency — includes 27 Institutes and Centers and is a component of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. It is the primary federal agency for conducting and supporting basic, clinical and translational medical research, and it investigates the causes, treatments, and cures for both common and rare diseases. For more information about NIH and its programs, visit www.nih.gov.


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