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Vermont Genetics Network Hosts Northeast Regional IDeA Meeting

By Jennifer Nachbur Article published August 30, 2007

The second Northeast Regional Institutional Development Award (IDeA) Meeting drew over 200 scientists to the Sheraton Hotel and Conference Center on August 15-17 to facilitate open interaction and networking aimed at initiating future collaborations and new discoveries.

The three-day meeting included members of the National Center for Research Resources/National Institutes of Health IDeA Networks of Biomedical Research Excellence (INBRE) and Centers of Biomedical Research Excellence (COBRE) programs from Delaware, Maine, New Hampshire, Rhode Island and Vermont.

Judith Van Houten, George H. Perkins Professor of Biology and principal investigator of the Vermont Genetics Network (VGN) INBRE, served as master of ceremonies for the invitation-only conference, which was sponsored by VGN. The meeting began with welcoming remarks from Frances Carr, UVM vice president for research and graduate studies, followed by a presentation from Sidney McNairy, director of research infrastructure at the NIH.

The keynote speech, “The Promise and Challenge of Stem Cell Research,” was delivered by James Battey, MD, PhD, Director of the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (NIDCD).

Following a morning welcome from UVM President Daniel Mark Fogel on Aug. 16, conference participants heard remarks from Vermont Governor Jim Douglas. W. Fred Taylor, IDeA program director at NIH, gave a presentation describing the program's goals and objectives. Platform sessions featured 35 scientific presentations by researchers in the fields of protein structure/function, inflammation and immunology, computational biology, stem cells, neuroscience, development and regeneration, and cancer biology. In addition to the PowerPoint presentations, over 90 research posters were displayed by scientists from the region.

The third and final day featured the remainder of the platform sessions with two concurrent meetings, a Core Facility Director’s workshop and a Cyber Infrastructure regional workshop, and concluded with a wrap-up session.

The federal IDeA program broadens the geographic distribution of NIH funding for biomedical and behavioral research. The program fosters health-related research and enhances the competitiveness of investigators at institutions located in states in which the aggregate success rate for applications to NIH has historically been low.