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Wilson, Mello of UMass Praise the Role of the University of Massachusetts in the Governor's Life Sciences Initiative

BOSTON- University of Massachusetts President Jack M. Wilson and UMass Nobel Laureate Craig Mello Ph.D., were invited today to join Governor Deval Patrick for the announcement of the Governor's Massachusetts Life Sciences Initiative.

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Jack M. Wilson serves as the President of the five-campus University of Massachusetts system, where research expenditures exceeded $400 million in Fiscal Year 2006, including nearly $250 million in life sciences research. He also currently serves as Vice Chairman of the Board of the Massachusetts Life Sciences Center, which oversees state funding for life science initiatives.

As the president of the University of Massachusetts, the leading public academic research institution in the Commonwealth, I applaud Governor Patrick for making such a strong commitment to the life sciences, particularly stem cell research and RNAi-related research and development. The announcement today is an important step in developing a world-class life sciences strategy for the Commonwealth that will foster scientific innovation, including unlocking the mysteries of debilitating diseases, and spur economic growth. The University of Massachusetts is proud to be able to play an important role in this strategy and I truly believe this proposal is far-reaching, comprehensive and of sufficient scope and scale to enable Massachusetts to continue and expand its national and global leadership in biotechnology and the life sciences," said University of Massachusetts President Jack M. Wilson.

Nobel Laureate Craig Mello, Ph.D., of the University of Massachusetts Medical School serves as the Presidential Science Advisor to University of Massachusetts President Jack M. Wilson.

"It is clear to me that scientific innovation and cutting-edge research helps set Massachusetts apart in the eyes of the life sciences and greater scientific community. Today's announcement of this significant, new state funding is an important signal that the opportunities to do cutting-edge research in this state are expanding. I am proud that RNAi is already changing the scientific landscape, offering new tools in the effort to better human health; my colleagues at the UMass Medical School and I see great promise in our continued work with  RNAi and RNAi Therapeutics.   Support of this type from the government, academic institutions and society allows us to further advance science and to conduct important basic, clinical and translational research," Nobel Laureate Craig Mello, Ph.D., of the University of Massachusetts Medical School said.

Mello is the co-recipient of the 2006 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine along with his colleague Andrew Fire, Ph.D., of Stanford University, for their discoveries related to RNA interference. Mello and Fire published research findings that demonstrated that a particular form of ribonucleic acid or RNA-the cellular material responsible for the transmission of genetic information-can silence targeted genes. This RNAi process offers astounding potential for understanding and manipulating the cellular basis of human disease.

Contact:  Robert P. Connolly, 617.287.7073; Libby DeVecchi, 617.287.7023

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5/8/07

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Robert P. Connolly
Vice President for Strategic Communications and University Spokesperson
617.548.0238 (cell)
617.287.7073 (office)
rconnolly@umassp.edu

Ann Scales
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617.838.3963 (cell)
617.287.4084 (office)
ascales@umassp.edu

JoAnn Conley
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Jan Brogen
Senior Writer
617.287.4027 (Office)
jbrogen@umassp.edu

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