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Insurance company money awarded to research projects

By Jeff Hansel

The Post-Bulletin

For the first time, the Minnesota Partnership for Bioscience and Medical Genomics has awarded money from a private company to partnership research projects.

The projects will focus on cancer and heart disease.

Gov. Tim Pawlenty announced during his State of the State address in 2005 that the Minneapolis-based insurance company Medica would offer $5 million to bolster the partnership, a collaboration involving the state, Mayo Clinic and the University of Minnesota.

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But how the money will be used wasn’t announced until Wednesday.

Three research projects will be funded by the Medica money:

  • Prevention of congestive heart failure.
  • Determining biomarkers of progressive colon cancer.
  • Using nanotechnology to advance cancer research.

The money will also "provide infrastructure support for ongoing research in two areas: bioinformatics and obesity research," according to a partnership statement.
Together, that brings the partnership’s number of current, ongoing research projects to 24. Only projects that neither institution could do alone are funded. Putting the Medica Foundation’s money to use illustrates hope that other companies will follow Medica’s lead.

"This joining of forces with other organizations is a keystone of the Partnership plan to make Minnesota a national leader in biosciences," Dr. Glen Forbes, Mayo CEO, said in a statement.

Dr. Frank Cerra, senior vice president for health science at the university, said support from the Medica Foundation "is further evidence that the private sector is able to leverage their investment and be a part of advancing collaborative research that changes people’s lives."

"We are committed to controlling health-care costs and improving efficiencies in the delivery of health care," said John Buck, chairman of the Medica board of directors.

Investing in the partnership, he said, "is an ideal way to do this because it brings together leading researchers who are working to find the most innovative and effective ways to improve care for these diseases while reducing costs, and that ultimately will benefit our members and the people of Minnesota."

For more on the Minnesota Partnership, go to postbulletin.com/weblinks.

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Minnesota Partnership

http://www.minnesotapartnership.info/index.cfm

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