Public Release:  National Cancer Institute awards $2.2 million grant to Jackson Professor Yijun Ruan

Jackson Laboratory

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IMAGE: This is a photo of professor Yijun Ruan, Ph.D., of the Jackson Laboratory for Genomic Medicine in Farmington, Conn. view more

Credit: Jackson Laboratory photo by Jennifer Torrance

The National Cancer Institute has awarded a three-year grant totaling $2,168,535 to Professor Yijun Ruan, Ph.D., of The Jackson Laboratory for Genomic Medicine, for his research into the role of noncoding RNAs in cancer and other diseases.

The best-known RNAs are those that manufacture proteins from the "blueprint" provided by DNA. But there are many kinds of non-coding RNAs (ncRNAs) that carry out other vital roles. In fact, there may be thousands of different kinds of ncRNAs yet to be discovered in the genome, each of which may have a specific role in healthy function or disease.

Using new technologies, Ruan and his lab will identify novel ncRNAs and the interactions between ncRNAs and their target DNAs. Since ncRNAs are associated with diseases such as cancers, such novel ncRNAs and their target DNAs have the potential to be diagnostic biomarkers and novel genomic therapeutic targets for disease.

"The study of ncRNAs' regulatory functions is becoming a new frontier in biology," Ruan says, "and we are developing new tools to study ncRNAs' functions, particularly in cancer biology. We are very pleased that NCI recognizes the potential of our strategy, and this funding will help us to do some exciting science and make important discoveries. We are very excited."

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The Jackson Laboratory is an independent, nonprofit biomedical research institution and National Cancer Institute-designated Cancer Center based in Bar Harbor, Maine, with a facility in Sacramento, Calif., and the new genomic medicine institute in Farmington, Conn. It employs a total staff of more than 1,500. Its mission is to discover precise genomic solutions for disease and empower the global biomedical community in the shared quest to improve human health.

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