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
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.
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
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