Huntsville's HudsonAlpha biotech center wins $1 million grant to teach genetics

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The Huntsville Times

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By Lee Roop

HUNTSVILLE, Alabama – Huntsville’s HudsonAlpha Institute for Biotechnology has won a $1.1 million federal grant to teach Alabama high school students more about genetics. The grant from the National Institutes of Health "supports an initiative we’ve designed to help high school students identify genetic and environmental risks for human disease and then explore preventive measures based on that knowledge," said Dr. Neil Lamb, director of educational outreach at HudsonAlpha.

Lamb said personal genetic information will be as important to a person’s medical records as blood pressure and chloesterol levels in the future. The program Lamb and his team created, called "It’s Complex," is designed to spread understanding of genetics’ role in health, Lamb said.

"Understanding that genetic and lifestyle factors interact and realizing how preventative behavior — maybe diet, activity level or a variety of other habits or choices may reduce disease risk, offers critical information to students," Lamb said.

The Alabama Math Science and Technology Initiative will train teachers statewide, and the program will be piloted at Sparkman Ninth Grade School, Columbia High School and Decatur High School. The grant will be dispersed over five years.

The HudsonAlpha Institute for Biotechnology is the non-profit cornerstone of the Cummings Research Park Biotechnology Campus. It is involved in genomic research, economic development and education.