Texas Tech Names Winner of $1 Million Research Grant Competition

A group of researchers working on sequencing the cotton genome has won the 2007 Texas Tech Research Development Fund Competition.

A group of researchers working on sequencing the cotton genome has won the 2007 Texas Tech Research Development Fund Competition.

Thea Wilkins, Bayer Crop Science Regents Professor in Genomics, leads a group of seven co-principal investigators on the project which won the $999,000 grant.

"It is vital that Texas Tech find ways to support its own researchers," said Dean Smith, vice president for research. "Texas Tech is making a major effort to increase its research capacity. By creating internal incentives such as this grant program, we are telling scientists that Texas Tech is serious about supporting our researchers and their projects."

The grant program is in its second year and is meant to enhance the research efforts of university scientists. Researchers from across the campus submitted 40 proposals requesting a total of $21.3 million in this year’s competition. Independent reviewers looked at the applications and made recommendations to Smith. The grant money comes from the Research Development Fund, which was created by the Texas Legislature to support research activities in higher education.

"I know that choosing among the many incredible research projects that were submitted was a difficult task for our reviewers," said Jon Whitmore, Texas Tech president. "Finding a genome sequence would be a major accomplishment for any researcher. Dr. Wilkins and her co-investigators are in a position to make great headway in this area."

The cotton genomics research team also includes from the Department of Plant and Soil Science: Eric Hequet, research associate professor; Noureddine Abidi, research assistant professor; Robert Wright, assistant professor; Dick Auld, Rockwell Professor of Plant and Soil Science; Randy Allen, professor; and Craig Bednarz, associate professor. Gregory May, program leader for the National Center for Genome Resources in Santa Fe is also a member of the team.

Texas Tech and the National Center for Genome Resources signed an agreement in September that will in part establish a framework for specific areas of cooperation in genome sequencing and genome analysis.

"The impact of having the cotton genome sequence cannot be overestimated," said Wilkins. "Once a genome sequence is found, we can take basic laboratory research and get new cotton varieties into the hands of growers at a significantly accelerated rate. This discovery would open the way for novel applications to utilize cotton as an important renewable resource for food, fuel and fiber."


CONTACT: Dean Smith, Texas Tech vice president for research, at (806) 742-3905 or via e-mail at dean.smith@ttu.edu.