Title : PR 93-55 Field of Molecular Evolution Advanced by New Joint Agreement Type : Press

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Title : PR 93-55 Field of Molecular Evolution Advanced by New Joint Agreement Type : Press Release NSF Org: BIO / IBN Date : July 15, 1993 File : pr9355 Cheryl Dybas June 28, 1993 (202) 357-9498 NSF PR 93-55 FIELD OF MOLECULAR EVOLUTION ADVANCED BY NEW AGREEMENT The National Science Foundation (NSF) and the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation today formally agreed to a joint cooperative program of awards to advance research in molecular evolution. The foundations have agreed to implement a postdoctoral fellowship program to be funded jointly; and to cooperate in the development and implementation of a young investigator program, to be funded by the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation. Molecular evolution is a relatively young area of science that has experienced remarkable advances over the past decade. For the first time, it is becoming possible to unravel millions of years of evolutionary history encoded within the genomes of living organisms and ancient DNA. Frederick Bernthal, acting director of NSF, said: "In establishing this joint postdoctoral program in molecular evolution between NSF (a federal agency) and the Sloan Foundation (a private philanthropic foundation), a new paradigm in science funding is being forged: cooperation between federal government and the private sector in funding very promising research in the biological sciences. We are concentrating our efforts on young scientists who have just received their doctorates in -more- -2- the rapidly developing area of molecular evolution. This area promises, through synthesis of the latest technologies in molecular biology and evolutionary theory, to revolutionize our ideas of how living organisms are related to each other. This field of research has already begun to reveal common developmental pathways in organisms as distinct and divergent as fruit flies and humans." Ralph E. Gomory, president of the Sloan Foundation, added "Molecular evolution is illuminating mechanisms and relationships using methods never contemplated by scientists like Darwin and Mendel. Molecular evolution enables biologists to focus their research upon particular regions of the genome that are critical to survival, and increasingly is benefitting biotechnology research into new pharmaceuticals and other biological products." Studies of molecular evolution cut across traditional scientific fields that range from molecular genetics to behavior, systematics and anthropology. They also bring together the powerful methods of molecular biology and applied mathematics. Molecular studies generate information that can most effectively be interpreted within the framework of evolutionary theory using methods that depend on recent advances in computation. Possible topics for study include: Studies of associated patterns in the genetic, biochemical, cellular, and developmental properties of organisms at the molecular level, which provide a greater understanding of the immense diversity of biological forms; and Studies of the underlying evolutionary relationships among the processes, mechanisms and patterns which shape organisms at the molecular level. -end- The National Science Foundation is an independent agency of the federal government established in 1950 to promote and advance scientific progress in the United States. NSF accomplishes its mission primarily by competitively awarding grants to educational institutions for research and education in the sciences, mathematics, and engineering. The Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, a philanthropic non-profit institution, was established by Alfred P. Sloan, Jr. in 1934. Its main interests and programs are concentrated primarily in four areas: science and technology; economic growth, industrial competitiveness and standard of living; education in science, technology and management; and selected national issues. This and other information is available electronically on STIS, NSF's Science and Technology Information System. For more information about STIS contact the Publications Section at (202) 357-7861 and request the "STIS Flyer," NSF Publication #91-10, or send an E-mail message to stisinfo@nsf.gov (INTERNET) or stisinfo@NSF (BITNET).

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