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David Bricker
IU Media Relations

Last modified: Monday, November 10, 2003

IU fruit fly scientists capture $20 million grant

Researchers at Indiana University Bloomington, Harvard University, Cambridge University (U.K.) and the University of California at Berkeley have been told by the National Institutes of Health that their request for approximately $20 million in continued funding for FlyBase has been approved. Some $3 million of that money will come directly to IUB, which houses FlyBase, the most comprehensive database of Drosophila (fruit fly) information available to scientists.

The exact amount of the five-year grant is not yet known because the budget for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has not been approved by Congress and the president. But because the grant proposal received a high rating by NIH reviewers, it is likely the final approved sum will be close to what FlyBase administrators requested.

Biologists Thomas Kaufman and Kathy Matthews will oversee IUB's extensive contributions to the ongoing project. Though its services are shared by researchers and staff at Harvard, Berkeley and Cambridge, the public interface of FlyBase is developed and maintained by IUB Drosophila scientists and staff. The database is accessible via the World Wide Web and is considered a resource vital to the international Drosophila community.

Closely tied to FlyBase is the Bloomington Drosophila Stock Center, the world's largest clearinghouse of prized Drosophila mutants. The mutants are crucial to scientists' experiments in many fields including genetics, molecular biology, cell biology, developmental biology and evolutionary biology. Kaufman estimated the center currently sends out about 2,000 strains a week from the stock center's living library.

Drosophila is one of the most studied groups of model organisms in the world. In the period from 2000 to 2002 alone, published papers about the insects were authored or coauthored by more than 12,000 different scientists in the United States and abroad, Kaufman said.

Other IUB personnel listed as contributors to the grant project are bioinformaticists Don Gilbert, Victor Strelets and Gary Grumbling; curator Anthony DeAngelo; documentation specialist Kimberly Cook; and information technology students Hardik Sheth and Nihar Sheth.

To speak with Kaufman or Matthews, contact David Bricker at 812-856-9035 or