A&M Breaks Ground for Genomics Institute

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Texas A&M will soon house a facility designed to make Texas a focal point in life sciences. Officials broke ground Tuesday for The Texas Institute for Genomic Medicine. The non-profit institute was founded in 2005 and it should be completed in less than a year.

It was a symbolic ceremony for a very real facility.

"This is about people's quality of life, this is about making a real difference in people's lives," Governor Rick Perry said.

Tuesday men and women behind the concept of the Texas Institute for Genomic Medicine, broke ground.

"Today we both break ground on a state of the art facility that will hold the deepest and richest pool of genomic material in the world," District 8 Representative Kevin Brady said.

The facility, brings together the state, Texas A&M, and a world leader in genomic mapping, Lexicon Genetics.

The project merges a private sector with a public university focused on the future.

"We recognize that genetic research will lead to life saving techniques and therapies and treatments in the future," Perry said.

The primary goal of the institute is to create what's called a "knockout mouse." The mouse has a specific gene turned off so that scientists can learn how the gene works, then develop treatments for diseases and conditions like cancer and heart disease.

"All of us have loved ones or have had ourselves health care problems that we look to the hopefully near future when genetics may give us the answer that works better or faster or with fewer side effects or more permanently," Nancy Dickey President of Texas A&M's Health Science Center said.

A $50 million Texas Enterprise Fund grant backs the project. Lexicon will use $35 million. The rest will cover construction.

"History shows us that when government, industry, and the academic sectors join together to solve great challenges the possibility for revolutionary developments are limitless," Perry said.

Over the next decade, the facility will create 5,000 new jobs. And the project is already attracting attention from bio tech firms wanting to be closer to TIGM.

The building is scheduled to be completed in May 2007.