U, Mayo partnership receives $5 million donation

The University of Minnesota and Mayo Clinic partnership received the last of four installments in a $5 million donation from Medica Thursday. The donation will fund six research projects currently being conducted by both University and Mayo Clinic investigators. Mark Paller , University assistant vice president for research, gave an update on the projects funded by the donation funds Thursday. The donation funds two infrastructure projects and four research projects. The infrastructure projects include the purchasing of a body-composition analyzer for rodents to help improve obesity research and the purchase of two new DNA sequencers that help to determine which genes are responsible for which diseases. Eric Wieben, director of the Mayo Genomics Research Center , said the donation has energized research within the partnership. âÄúWe can now carry out experiments that people used to only dream about,âÄù Wieben said, adding that the new DNA sequencers can analyze two to three billion sequences per day; where as the old machines could only analyze one million. The research projects being funded include investigating new peptides for congestive heart failure, nanotechnology for cancer treatment and receptor cites on cells related to HIV. The partnership between the University and the Mayo Clinic requires that every project is studied by both University and Mayo investigators. Including the six Medica-funded projects, the partnership is currently working on 37 research initiatives. âÄúWe collaborate to compete with the world, instead of each other,âÄù Bob Rizza, dean for research at Mayo Clinic, said of the partnership between the two biggest research institutions in Minnesota. In addition to MedicaâÄôs funding, the partnership is primarily funded by the state. âÄúThe state is the major funder, but the Medica dollars have given us the capacity for cutting-edge research,âÄù Wieben said. The $4.8 billion deficit projected for the 2010-11 biennium then represents a concern for the partnership, Paller said. âÄúWeâÄôre as concerned as everyone else whoâÄôs on the state budget,âÄù Paller said. That makes the Medica donation and getting other companies in Minnesota to donate to the partnership much more substantial, he said. While Mayo and University representatives expressed their gratitude for the donation, Medica President and CEO David Tilford also thanked the partnership for allowing Medica to participate. âÄúItâÄôs a great honor for us to participate in your pursuit of medicine and scientific research,âÄù Tilford said. âÄúWe believe in your innovation.âÄù