Bates partners with Mount Desert Island laboratory in $5.5 million NIH grant

For Bates College, a $5.5 million grant to Mount Desert Island Biological Laboratory (MDIBL) will translate into many more biomedical research opportunities for students and support for an expanded network of biomedical researchers.

The National Institutes of Health grant was announced Tuesday (10/30/01) in Salisbury Cove, home of MDIBL.

“Our faculty and students at Bates conduct valuable biomedical research; this grant program helps to widen our network for inter-institutional collaboration and to support research and research training,” said President Donald W. Harward.

Bates is one of six partner institutions that will benefit from the grant. Students participating in the project will come from Bates College, Colby College, College of the Atlantic and the University of Maine. Training will be provided primarily at MDIBL and at The Jackson Laboratory in Bar Harbor.

The six institutions will form a network for research training of faculty and students in comparative genomics, a new topic in biomedical science which compares the functions of genes from different species, and which will play a key role in interpreting the human genome and its relationships to human biology and disease. The network will enhance the biomedical research capacity and competitiveness of students and faculty in Maine by:

* Networking high-quality biomedical research institutions with undergraduate and graduate degree granting institutions.

* Providing training, education and mentoring of undergraduate and graduate students and junior faculty in biomedical research.

* Stimulating an expansion of the year-round biomedical research program at MDIBL and basic science research by faculty at four undergraduate colleges.

Bates has had this student research arrangement before with MDIBL, but the new grant program will allow many more students to participate. “We had about 30 students come to a meeting about this opportunity last year,” said Bates College Associate Professor of Biology Pamela J. Baker. “But when they found out the cost, the number who actually participated dropped to seven.”

In past years, the six-week spring program cost about $2,500 per student. The grant program will base participation on the student’s abilities, with fees being paid by the grant. Baker said she expects 16 Bates students to participate in spring 2002. She noted that the participation of Bates students in their springtime “short-term” was the model project used for the successful NIH grant proposal.

Baker said that Bates students also will likely participate in summer research on comparative functional genomics. Students in the summer program receive free room and board and a $250 per week stipend.

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