The University Record, July 16, 1997

Special software hunts for damaged DNA

By Dave Wilkins
Medical Center Public Relations

The National Cancer Institute has awarded the University a five-year, $5.5-million grant to fund a project that scans human DNA for threatening mutations and genetic damage.

The project has two objectives:

The U-M research team, directed by Samir Hanash, uses a combination of enzymes to digest DNA sequences that encode for genes. That process produces thousands of DNA fragments, which are then analyzed with highly sensitive, high-speed software that can detect subtle changes among several thousand fragments. The U-M team created the imaging software.

"We have developed the necessary resources to sequence all those thousands of DNA fragments, which would represent a significant contribution to the genome project effort," says Hanash, a professor of pediatrics. "The field of genomic investigations has become extremely competitive with a growing emphasis on the use of efficient technologies to study multiple genes simultaneously. The award of this grant recognizes the strength the University of Michigan has established in this field."

Hanash will collaborate with investigators from several departments, including James Neel, human genetics; Eric Radany, radiation oncology; Thomas Glover and Rork Kuick, pediatrics; David Beer, Donald Ross and Karin Muraszko, surgery; Bruce Richardson, internal medicine; and Dan Teichroew, industrial and operations engineering.