U, Mayo researchers to unveil joint projects

Branden Peterson

University and Mayo Clinic officials are confident two heads are better than one.

Since the two organizations formed the Minnesota Partnership for Biotechnology and Medical Genomics last April, researchers at both institutions have developed joint projects that will link them.

Partnership officials will discuss their new partnership’s progress Friday morning at the Radisson Hotel Metrodome.

Whether it is analyzing cancer or looking for genetic trends that trigger heart disease, University and Mayo Clinic researchers hope their combined expertise will unlock medical mysteries.

In all, 128 University scientists and 121 Mayo Clinic researchers submitted 34 project proposals totaling $20 million, Mayo spokesman Lee Aase said.

With only $3.9 million available, partnership officials selected nine projects for further consideration. They will announce the projects Friday, according to a joint press release from the University’s Academic Health Center and the Mayo Clinic.

Legislators in the 2003 session gave $2 million to the partnership, and funds from the University and Mayo Clinic make up the remainder, Aase said.

University and Mayo Clinic researchers will approve between three and six of the joint-research projects by February.

Officials at both organizations believe sharing medical expertise will increase productivity and give them the opportunity to be leaders in the medical field.

It is a chance for the partnership to create medical history, they said.

“The future isn’t going to be in a pill,” Aase said. “It’s going to be looking at specific genetics.”

Linking researchers at the University, its partnered campuses and the Mayo Clinic will keep researchers on the phone or on Minnesota’s highways.

“The highways will be worn out,” Aase said.

Genomic research is a growing field at the University, where administrators have pursued making the institution a recognized leader in genomics and biotechnology studies.

Biotechnology work has led to discoveries in stem cell research and has helped researchers learn about gene structures in diseases, crops, foods and living organisms.