The latest news from academia, regulators
research labs and other things of interest
Posted: January 6, 2009
RainDance Technologies and Harvard University to Share in First Massachusetts Life Sciences Center Cooperative Research Grants
(Nanowerk News) RainDance Technologies, Inc., a provider of innovative microdroplet-based solutions for human health and disease research, today announced that it has been selected to share in the first-ever round of cooperative research grants by The Massachusetts Life Sciences Center (MLSC).
The MLSC awarded a grant of $250,000 per year for three years to Dr. David Weitz, Mallinckrodt Professor of Physics and Applied Physics at Harvard's School of Engineering and Applied Sciences and Physics Department, and RainDance Technologies of Lexington, Mass., to develop and demonstrate the use of a new form of fluorescence activated cell sorter (FACS) used to collect biochemical information about individual cells. The researchers hope to explore new applications of FACS that have not yet been feasible, from basic biology and medical studies to drug development.
“The grant award is particularly dramatic for us as it represents entry into new and exciting applications of our ground-breaking RainStorm™ microdroplet-based technology,” said Chris McNary, President and Chief Executive Officer of RainDance Technologies.
“To date, we have focused application of our RainStorm™ micro-droplet technology, which produces picoliter-volume droplets at a rate of 10 million per hour, in two key areas: One, the targeted resequencing of the human genome — stirring significant interest and excitement in one of the fastest-growing segments of the $1 billion DNA sequencing market – and two, the development of the next generation of high-throughput screening (HTS) and small molecule storage for the drug discovery market,” McNary said.
“In effect, the MLSC grant – awarded after rigorous review by the Life Sciences Center’s Scientific Advisory Board – recognizes the even broader capabilities of droplet biology for its potential to accelerate health and human disease research,” McNary said.
According to Dr. Weitz, the grant will allow his lab to work with RainDance Technologies to develop a new form of fluorescence assisted cell sorter (FACS). “This research is an important continuation of the droplet-based microfluidics technology that was pioneered at Harvard University and is now being commercialized by RainDance,” Dr. Weitz said.
McNary noted that the project will “further advance the growth of droplet biology and the positioning of RainDance and Harvard as one of the world’s innovation centers for this important technology– as well as bolster the goals of the State’s Life Sciences Initiative and further position Massachusetts as a biotech industry leader.”
McNary commended the MLSC and reiterated his praise for the State’s $1 Billion Life Sciences Initiative “as the stimulus for RainDance’s decision to relocate to Lexington, Mass., from out of state this May.”
Dr. Weitz called the grant “an excellent example of a partnership between the state government, local industry and academia to combine basic research with commercial development that brings economic value and jobs to the state, while benefiting society by providing important new technologies for health care. I am grateful to the State of Massachusetts and to the MLSC for their support.”
“The Cooperative Research Grant Program builds on the Center’s strategy of using public investments to leverage private sector resources as we pursue our dual mission of job creation, and support for good science that will improve the human condition,” said Dr. Susan Windham Bannister, President & CEO of the MLSC. “We were thrilled that RainDance Technologies cited the Life Sciences Act as one of their reasons for moving to Massachusetts, and we are pleased to support this worthy collaborative research project, which holds promise for both job creation and important advancements in scientific knowledge.”
RainDance Technologies was one of six projects funded for a total of $3.7 million, and was selected out of a total of twenty seven that were submitted for consideration by the MLSC. The awards will be matched dollar-for-dollar by the industry partners involved with each collaboration.
The grants were created to fund collaborations between scientists, academic institutions and industry that “promise significant commercial potential in the near term and are scientifically meritorious,” according to the MLSC.