Josh Hamilton: ARRA award to further studies in regenerative medicine

Josh Hamilton, the chief academic and scientific officer of the Marine Biological Laboratory (MBL), likes to point out that we humans share the same basic genes with starfish. But there's one main difference: "Starfish can regenerate their arms,"

realized it was a perfect match for us."

Hamilton emphasizes that the ARRA grant is an important component to the success of the new Center. "We greatly appreciate the funding from the

says Hamilton. "Why can't we?"

Thanks, in part, to a recent Recovery Act award, the MBL can now try to answer this question and others related to regenerative biology.

The Marine Biological Laboratory received $802,500 in federal stimulus funds through the National Institutes of Health. It is part of an initiative to establish a Center for Regenerative Medicine at the Laboratory which was spearheaded by a $10 million grant from the Massachusetts Life Sciences Center and a matching $15 million grant from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute.

state to renovate our labs and create this new Center, "says Hamilton, "and the new facilities will greatly enhance our research. But of course science is done by scientists, and this will now enable us to recruit the best and brightest minds to the MBL to make new discoveries in this important new field that will ultimately benefit all of us."

Hamilton notes that the Laboratory gave the NIH a commitment to sustain these positions once the two-year grant runs out.

The focus of the new center, says Hamilton, is to use marine and other aquatic organisms, with the
The Recovery Act award will enable the Laboratory to staff the new center and provide them with start up funds. "The timing was really good for us," says Hamilton. "When this ARRA grant came out wegoal of understanding how they regenerate. "Others are looking at human stem cells but our niche is looking at lower organisms and how we can learn from them," he says. "It's a complimentary focus."

Broadband

The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 ("ARRA") appropriates funds nationwide to promote high-speed Internet connectivity. The majority of the funding will be used to increase broadband access in rural, unserved, and underserved areas.

Of the $200 million in grants set aside for expanding public computer center capacity, the Boston Public Computing Centers project has been awarded $1.9 million to fund the first of a three-tier broadband project to bring Internet access to the city's poorest communities. The partnership proposes to expand computer and Internet capacity at the city's main library and 25 branches, 16 community centers, and 11 public housing sites. An estimated 18,700 people will be served per week at the 53 centers.

The University of Massachusetts at Lowell was awarded $780,000 under the Sustainable Broadband Adoption program to promote broadband awareness and computer literacy among vulnerable populations, including the nation's second largest Cambodian population, low-income and at-risk youth, the unemployed, residents without college degrees, and seniors in Lowell and Merrimack Valley. It is estimated to serve more than 10,000 existing or new broadband subscribers. As part of the program, UMass-Lowell students will work in local computer centers with at-risk youth and seniors to develop appropriate training and outreach materials.

Finally, the Massachusetts Broadband Institute (MBI) has already received $2 million under the Broadband Data Improvement Act to develop or update broadband coverage mapping for the state to determine. MBI estimates the mapping project will be complete by February.

Electronic Health Record Grants

Recovery Act funding of up to $36 billion has been set aside for health information technology (health IT) projects. $34 billion of these funds offer Medicare and Medicaid incentives to help physicians and hospitals acquire electronic health record (EHR) technology. The additional $2 billion from the Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health Act will promote a nationwide health IT infrastructure, facilitate the creation and dissemination of health IT standards and policies, and create regional health IT extension centers. Award announcements will begin this year.

Of the ARRA allocated health IT funds, Massachusetts could receive up to $500 million for initiatives for the creation of electronic patient records. State money will be used for the development of a secure network for statewide health information exchange, allowing authorized health care providers to share electronic health records. While protecting patient privacy, expanding the use of electronic health records will improve health care delivery and coordination, reduce unwarranted treatment variation and help facilitate chronic disease management and promote transparency.

Additionally, physicians and hospitals already using EHR technology will receive funding in the form of reimbursements. Physicians who have implemented the technology could receive up to $44,000 in reimbursements each over four years. Partners Healthcare and its member hospitals Brigham and Women's and Massachusetts General, which have already implemented an electronic records system, could also receive substantial awards. Massachusetts, which has nearly twice the national average of doctors using EHR technology, will likely see above-average federal reimbursements. In addition to its cost-saving and efficiency benefits, EHR technology may also create private-sector jobs among vendors installing the systems.

National Institute of Health Grants

In 2009, Massachusetts was second in the nation for National Institute of Health (NIH) grants awarded with a total of 1,294 recovery-act grants funded by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA).

Over $500 million in NIH ARRA grants have been awarded to Massachusetts hospitals, universities, and educational, scientific, and medical research groups, to support cutting edge research. Unlike previous NIH grants, ARRA investments aim to create and retain jobs in the short term, in addition to accelerating scientific achievement.

Research institutions in the Commonwealth have received grants to conduct research on a wide range of medical topics, from genetics to cardiology, from cancer to human behavior. Brigham and Women's Hospital is one of the largest recipients in Massachusetts, having received over $58 million in grants. The Broad Institute in Cambridge received a $9 million award to perform research on genome sequencing. Tufts Medical Center was awarded over $8 million that will support, among other things, cutting-edge research in heart disease and leukemia treatment.

A total of $10.4 billion has gone to the NIH for funding to support economic growth through advancement of scientific research, and Massachusetts' share totals more than 5 percent of all awards granted nationally. Only California, with 1,785 ARRA NIH awards, has received a higher number of NIH ARRA awards than Massachusetts. (Following Massachusetts are New York with 1204 grants, Pennsylvania with 843, and Texas with 698.)



Created January 29, 2010. Information provided by the Recovery & Reinvestment Office.