Baffling Blood Problem Explained
60-year-old health mystery solved by UVM's Bryan Ballif and French Research team:
More than 200,000 people in Europe and a similar number in North America are Vel-negative -- a rare blood type that's been difficult for blood banks and hospitals to identify. For these people, a blood transfusion can easily turn to kidney failure and death. For sixty years, doctors and researchers have hunted -- unsuccessfully -- for the underlying cause of this blood type. But now a team of scientists from the University of Vermont and France has found the missing molecule -- a tiny protein called SMIM1 -- and the mystery is solved.
The Vermont Genetics Network (VGN) is funded by the National Institute of General Medical Sciences (NIGMS), and is part of a National Institutes of Health (NIH) initiative called IDeA Networks of Biomedical Research Excellence (INBRE) to build biomedical research infrastructure in a variety of ways. We identify the need for and develop facilities at the University of Vermont (UVM), our lead institution.
Because we are concerned with future generations of research scientists, we support student and faculty research at our Baccalaureate Partner Institutions (BPIs): Castleton, Johnson and Lyndon State Colleges, Middlebury College, Norwich University, Saint Michael's College and Green Mountain College. The support that we provide to our BPIs is intended to make the faculty competitive for extramural funding in order to sustain their research and encourage undergraduates to choose biomedical careers. To inspire Vermont undergraduates outside our BPIs, we provide Outreach in the form of visits from VGN staff and faculty, who work closely with students and college faculty to implement cutting edge experiments in their course settings.
All of these activities invest in the Vermont biomedical research infrastructure, including physical and human resources, in order to bring about sustainable changes in how we in Vermont carry out research and educate our next generation of scientists and doctors.