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Jennifer Steinbachs

David Bricker
IU Media Relations

Last modified: Monday, August 11, 2003

IUB awarded $2.7 million NIH grant for Drosophila center

The National Institutes of Health has awarded Indiana University Center for Genomics and Bioinformatics staff and IU Bloomington biologists a $2.7 million grant to establish the Drosophila Genome Research Center, the world's largest and most comprehensive center of its kind devoted to geneticists' longest love -- the fruit fly.

"We will be putting together a center that develops, archives and distributes Drosophila genomics resources to researchers nationally and internationally," said CGB Genomics Lab Director Justen Andrews, who will administer the new center with CGB Director Peter Cherbas and biologist Thom Kaufman. "DGRC's addition to an already comprehensive fly research program here will effectively make Bloomington the Drosophila capital of the world. The grant also allows us to hire as many as 15 new life sciences staff to broaden and deepen our research and services."

Geneticists have studied Drosophila species for nearly 100 years -- longer than any other model organism in the history of genetics. In that time, scientists have learned a great deal about how Drosophila genes work and interact and, by inference, how human and other organisms' genes function.

IUB has long been an unofficial nexus for the world's thousands of Drosophila researchers. The university hosts and maintains the ever-growing FlyBase, a massive database of Drosophila DNA sequence information. Additionally, staff at the Bloomington Drosophila Stock Center at IU breed, store and distribute novel genetic strains of Drosophila to researchers who need flies for experiments. Kaufman estimates the center now sends out about 2,000 strains each week from the stock center's living library.

"With the new grant, I can only see the number of outgoing Drosophila packages increasing," Kaufman said. "Many researchers prefer to fork over their creations to us and let us handle the distribution."

NIH funding of the DGRC comes from the National Center for Research Resources and the National Institute of General Medical Sciences. Kaufman and IUB biologists Kathleen Matthews and Kevin Cook currently await approval of a $24 million NIH grant to expand and further modernize FlyBase as well as a $4.5 million National Science Foundation grant to expand the Drosophila Stock Center.

To speak with Andrews, Kaufman or Cherbas, contact David Bricker at 812-856-9035 or or Jennifer Steinbachs at 812-856-1858 or