Sanford-Burnham at Lake Nona receives Bankhead-Coley grant to expand genomics capabilities
The Florida Department of Health recently announced the awardees of this year’s Bankhead-Coley Cancer Research Program grants. Among them is Sanford-Burnham at Lake Nona associate professor and scientific director of Analytical Genomics and Bioinformatics Ranjan Perera, Ph.D. The three-year grant to Perera is valued at almost $1.3 million.
The funding will be used to expand the genomics capabilities at the Institute’s Orlando campus. Perera and his team will purchase and update equipment, and invest in additional talent with the ultimate goal of making the genomics technology platform available to clinical and research partners across Florida.
While it took more than a decade to sequence the full human genome a few years ago, and cost more than $1 billion, scientists at Sanford-Burnham can now perform that task in a few days, for a few hundred dollars. Particularly in cancer research, genomics technologies have played an increasingly important role over the past years.
“We are now able to quickly and efficiently screen patients’ entire genomes to see if they have any genetic mutations that may contribute to the development of certain cancers,” said Perera. “We also recently showed that, using this kind of technology, we can identify cancer markers early on and make treatment recommendations. With the help of this grant, we will make our technology available to partners here in Florida, so they can accelerate their research and make more-informed treatment decisions.”
The Bankhead-Coley Cancer Research Program was established by the Florida legislature in 2006 and is administered by the Florida Department of Health. The goal of the program is to fund research across the state that studies cancer and tobacco-related diseases. This year, 14 different projects at five Florida institutions were funded: Moffitt Cancer Center, Mayo Clinic, the University of Florida, the University of Miami, and Sanford-Burnham.