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Markey Trust awards $1.2 million to Stanford biological scientists

STANFORD -- The Department of Biological Sciences at Stanford University will receive $1.2 million in grants over the next three years from the Lucille P. Markey Charitable Trust, the foundation said in an announcement on Tuesday, Jan. 10.

Patricia Jones, chair of Biological Sciences, said the grant would be used to support a research and training program in molecular, cellular and developmental biology.

“We are very excited by this wonderful opportunity to maintain and add to our research facilities and to support our exceptional junior faculty whom we anticipate will be leaders in the field in the coming years,” Jones said.

Jones said that the grant will be used in two major ways: to train postdoctoral fellows who will work with junior faculty; and to support and purchase major equipment for state-of-the-art research facilities shared by all faculty members working in molecular, cellular and developmental biology. Among the new equipment will be a confocal microscope capable of looking deep inside cells or tissue, and a computerized molecular modeling system to help researchers predict the structure of molecules and characterize DNA sequences.

In its last major group of grants to be awarded before it ceases operation in 1997, the Markey Trust named Stanford and 13 other universities and research institutions to receive funds totaling $15.8 million. Trustee Robert J. Glaser, director for Medical Science of the Markey Trust, said each of the grants would support research addressing fundamental questions in basic biomedical science, such as cell biology, molecular biology, structural biology, genetics and immunology.

Since its inception in 1983, the trust has awarded more than $474 million for the support and encouragement of basic medical research. The late Lucille P. Markey, owner of the Calumet Farm thoroughbred racing stables, established the Markey Trust in her will. She died in Miami Beach in 1982; in accordance with her wishes, the trust will cease operations on June 30, 1997.

The Stanford School of Medicine received an earlier Markey grant to help establish its Department of Developmental Biology. Also, several Stanford faculty members have been Markey Scholars, including three from Biological Sciences: Ron Kopito, Martha Cyert and Michael Simon.

A portion of Stanford's Markey Trust funds will be devoted to support highly skilled technicians and service support for two of the service facilities already in place at the department: an electron microscopy lab with both scanning and transmission microscopes and a cell sorting facility that researchers use to study questions of gene regulation and cell differentiation.

By investing in support for high quality postdoctoral scholars and in shared laboratory facilities, Jones said the department is investing in its future. The postdocs will work with junior faculty members, who also will benefit from access to facilities that few individual research grants are large enough to support.

Stanford was named Number 1 in graduate training in biology in the nation by U.S. News and World Report in a 1994 supplement that reviewed university graduate programs. The Biological Sciences Department includes leaders in conservation and population biology as well as molecular, cellular and developmental biology. Among the faculty are 12 members of the National Academy of Science and eight Presidential Young Investigators. Jones said the department also benefits from close ties to basic and clinical scientists at Stanford School of Medicine.



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