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University of Iowa News Release

Oct. 14, 2003

UI Bioinformatics Center Signs $150,000 Contract With Alcon Research, Ltd.

The Center for Bioinformatics and Computational Biology (CBCB), a joint enterprise of the University of Iowa College of Engineering and the Roy J. and Lucille A. Carver College of Medicine, has signed a $150,000 contract with Alcon Research, Ltd. of Ft. Worth, Texas, a leading ophthalmic pharmaceutical research company, to help scientists better understand glaucoma, a leading cause of blindness.

The new contract is in addition to a five-year, $1.5 million contract the CBCB signed with Alcon earlier this year for two glaucoma research projects.

Thomas Casavant, CBCB director and professor of electrical and computer engineering and biomedical engineering, says that the two contracts represent an interdisciplinary effort to identify the genetic causes of glaucoma, leading to better diagnosis and treatment.

Part of the UI glaucoma research involves developing a novel bioinformatics system to identify potential glaucoma therapeutic targets and to accelerate mutation screening of glaucoma candidate genes. Another part of the research involves gene transfer to discover and characterize pathways involved in human glaucoma. The work has the potential to help form the basis for future human glaucoma gene therapy.

The relationship between the UI and Alcon Research, Ltd. dates back to a 1993 collaboration with the UI's Molecular Ophthalmology Laboratory (MOL), directed by Dr. Edwin Stone, which was extended in 1998 to include the Coordinated Laboratory for Computational Genomics (CLCG).

The CBCB is a high-performance computational and informational resource uniquely designed to help researchers learn about the molecular and genetic bases of human disease. In addition, the CBCB is working to facilitate development of interdisciplinary programs of study to teach professionals the skills of biomedical problem solving using modern computational methods. The center includes researchers from the colleges of engineering, medicine, liberal arts and sciences, public health, business, pharmacy, dentistry, nursing and the Graduate College. It also works with other units, including the UI Carver Center for Comparative Genomics and the UI Center for Macular Degeneration and other research support units such as Information Technology Services Research Technologies and the Carver College of Medicine's DNA Core Facility.

Alcon Research, Ltd. is an affiliate of Alcon, Inc. (NYSE: ACL), the world's leading eye care company. Alcon, which has been dedicated to the ophthalmic industry for more than 50 years, develops, manufactures and markets pharmaceuticals, surgical equipment and devices, contact lens care solutions and other vision care products that treat diseases, disorders and other conditions of the eye.

STORY SOURCE: University of Iowa News Services, 300 Plaza Centre One, Suite 301, Iowa City, Iowa 52242-2500.

MEDIA CONTACT: Gary Galluzzo, 319-384-0009, gary-galluzzo@uiowa.edu