Emory received more than $11 million in grants from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to conduct experiments and study areas such as autism, adult stem cells, cancer nanotechnology, HIV/AIDS and human genetics late October.
Emory received funding through 12 NIH Challenge Grants and six Grand Opportunity (GO) Awards from American Recovery and Reinvestment Act funding which aims to stimulate the economy through grants given to research teams.
Assistant Professor of Biology James Taylor is a recipient of a GO grant of $780,798 and with Anton Nekrutenko of Pennsylvania State University, will use the money to sequence genomes using new technologies.
"Our goal is to build infrastructure to allow any researcher to access these new technologies," Taylor said. "The grant is to support a major project that we wouldn't have been able to do without the funding."
Associate Professor of Medical Genetics Christa Martin and Woodruff Professor of Human Genetics David Ledbetter are also recipients of a GO grant to develop standard technologies in order to process prenatal genetic information.
Martin said the $1,738,019 will be used to "set up an international database" that would not be possible without the grant.
"A lot of clinical genetics laboratories across the U.S. and the world are doing microarray testing," she said. However, she noted that the interpretation becomes difficult without a set of international interpretive standards.
Additionally, if a laboratory were to find something unusual, the database would allow them to search other laboratories for similar results.
"There are about five laboratories across the U.S. and other countries that have joined," Martin said. Laboratories must agree to share data and to deposit data into the database to join. Martin said she expects to eventually have 200,000 cases in the database.
Associate Professor of Psychology Patricia Brennan and Assistant Professor of Psychology Alicia Smith received a Challenge Grant in the amount of $494,115 to research the effects of prenatal exposure to psychotropic medication. Brennan and Smith will be working in collaboration with Zachary Stowe and Jeffrey Newport of Emory's Women's Mental Health Program.
"People joke that it's so hard to get it's like playing the lottery," she said, adding that she feels lucky to have received the grant.
The NIH reported nearly 20,000 applicants for the Challenge Grants and more than 2,500 applicants for the GO awards.
Brennan explained that the Challenge Grant competition searches for innovative projects.
"We're looking at the long-term preschool outcomes of children who are exposed to different medications during pregnancy," she said.
Combining Smith's expertise in epigenetics and Brennan's work in child behavior is something Brennan said is new to her.
"The excitement of the Challenge Grant probably moved a lot of people forward on projects that we might not have done," she added.
Patricia Brennan, PhD, MSN, BSN, RN, is an Assistant Professor for the School of Nursing at Samuel Merritt University located in Oakland, California.