La Jolla Institute given grant for RNAi screening center

The La Jolla Institute for Allergy & Immunology has received $12.6 million to develop San Diego's first Center for RNAi screening.

“RNAi (RNA interference) allows scientists to explore new ways of disrupting disease processes based on altering gene function,” said Mitchell Kronenberg, Ph.D., La Jolla Institute president and chief scientific officer. “It is a powerful technology with the potential to transform human health and we are pleased that the NIH has entrusted us with bringing the first publically funded RNAi facility to San Diego.”

An internationally recognized immunologist, Kronenberg is co-lead investigator on the center grant along with La Jolla Institute scientist Anjana Rao, Ph.D., a world leader in cell biology and genomics research and a member of the U.S. National Academy of Sciences.

The La Jolla Institute, a world leader in immunology research, will develop the facility with the intent of hosting research projects throughout the San Diego biomedical research community.

Kronenberg added that one of the NIH's long-term goals in funding such a center is to boost genetic research because of its strong potential for improving human health. Center set up will begin immediately.

RNAi has been heralded as a revolutionary technology because it opens the door to developing new therapies for cancer and other diseases based on silencing specific genes. Its discoverers were awarded the 2006 Nobel Prize for Physiology or Medicine.

Duane Roth, CEO of CONNECT, an industry group supporting the San Diego life sciences and technology sectors, said a dedicated RNAi Center will be an important addition for San Diego.

“San Diego has one of the densest concentrations of biomedical research talent in the world which makes this cutting-edge center an absolute necessity for our region,” he said. “I think it's a testament to the La Jolla Institute's excellence that the NIH has entrusted them with this leadership.”

SOURCE: Press Release, La Jolla Institute for Allergy & Immunology

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