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Gene Transfer Research Awarded Beckman Grant

A novel gene transfer project “spawned” by Minnesota Sea Grant funding to genetically engineer faster-growing fish for aquaculture purposes was recently awarded the first Arnold and Mabel Beckman Foundation Technology Development Grant. The University of Minnesota is one of two universities in the nation to receive the grant, which will provide up to $2.5 million over the next five years for the development of Sleeping Beauty, a system for transferring genes into vertebrate cells. This project, along with one from the University of Texas at Austin, were competing against 90 others, each from a specific institution.

“Right now, Sleeping Beauty is like the Model T of gene transfer systems,” said Stephen Ekker, assistant professor of genetics, cell biology and development at the University of Minnesota, who is the principle investigator on the grant. “We will use the grant funds to improve the system so that it transfers genes more efficiently. After five years, we hope to have the Ferrari of gene transfer,” Ekker said.

Sleeping Beauty holds potential for identifying the functions of human genes and for treating diseases with a genetic basis. Other investigators at the University are Sea Grant researcher Perry Hackett, David Largaespada, and Scott McIvor. For a more detailed description of the project, see the March 1998 Seiche.

By Sea Grant Staff
November 1999

Return to November 1999 Seiche

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