The Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI) has awarded the School of Medicine $4 million over the next four years to establish the Center for Genetics in Medicine at Yale, which will support the recruitment of new faculty and provide core infrastructure to investigators throughout the school.

“The goal of the center is to apply the tools coming out of the Human Genome Project and human genetic analysis to the understanding of human disease,” said Richard P. Lifton, M.D., Ph.D., the principal investigator of the grant and the center’s director. “One of its premises is that there will be a new cadre of physician-scientists who are adept at performing these types of genetic analyses and have expertise in clinical medicine.”

Yale is among 41 institutions receiving a total of $92 million over the next four years as part of HHMI’s new competition for Institutional Grants to Medical Schools. Ranging from $1.6 million to $4 million, the grants will help the schools find new ways to combine basic biomedical research and clinical treatment of patients, according to HHMI. They will also support programs in the rapidly developing field of bioinformatics. Yale was one of three institutions to receive the maximum $4 million award.

The funding has helped Yale to recruit two new faculty members thus far, Kevin White, Ph.D., and Valerie Rienke, Ph.D., both from Stanford, who are leaders in the application of microarray technology. Microarrays are chips that enable the monitoring of gene expression in normal and abnormal cells derived from a variety of sources, from human to fruit fly.

The support from HHMI will also enable the expansion of Yale’s existing research facilities. The Keck Biotechnology Resource Center, one of the premier biotechnology resources in the country, provides core infrastructure for activities such as DNA sequencing and protein peptide synthesis. With the HHMI support, the center has become one of the first core facilities nationally to implement capillary DNA sequencing, a technology used in the Human Genome Project. In addition, funds have been used to establish a core microarray facility that will make this new technology broadly available at Yale.