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Boxer visits UCSD, touts stimulus grants

Scientists at Moores Cancer Center at the UCSD School of Medicine were in the spotlight last week as Sen. Barbara Boxer toured the facility, asking questions and congratulating the researchers. She also touted the $45 million in 152 research grants that have been awarded to UCSD through the Federal Recovery and Reinvestment Act.

Boxer’s remarks during a news conference following the tour focused on job creation. According to Boxer, UCSD researchers who worked on federally funded projects have launched and currently hold leadership positions with more than 50 private research companies. Those companies account for 16,000 jobs in the region.

She added that federal

research grants given to UCSD in the past have led to growth in the private sector, stimulating the local economy.

The senator said she expects the “shot” of grants through the Recovery Act to have an even greater impact, leading to more growth. She also said she hopes the benefits that will come from the stimulus package will make funding research through the National Institutes of Health a bigger priority in future budgetary decisions.

Dr. Dennis Carson, director of the Moores Center who was among those on the tour, noted that a neuro-oncologist was hired with the funds “to help lead a program aimed at developing new therapies for brain tumors.” In addition, several researchers and a scientist hired with the stimulus money are now trickling onto the campus.

As Boxer was led through the Moores laboratory, she asked questions and showed her excitement.

“This is so wonderful,” Boxer said after learning about video technology being developed by Dr.

David Cheresh’s team to identify and monitor tumor activity.

Nobel laureate Dr. Roger Y. Tsien shared the progress he has made in detecting cellular irregularities with infrared florescent proteins, primarily a protein found in jellyfish.

Dr. Quyen Nguyen explained how her team is working to identify a “molecular roadmap for surgeons to navigate.” They have already contracted Avelas Biosciences to run clinical tests.