The Vermont Genetics Network (VGN) is funded by the National Institute of General Medical Sciences (NIGMS), and is part of a National Institutes of Health (NIH) initiative called IDeA Networks of Biomedical Research Excellence (INBRE) to build biomedical research infrastructure in a variety of ways. We identify the need for and develop facilities at the University of Vermont (UVM), our lead institution.
Because we are concerned with future generations of research scientists, we support student and faculty research at our Baccalaureate Partner Institutions (BPIs): Castleton University, Johnson and Lyndon State Colleges, Middlebury College, Norwich University, Saint Michael's College and Green Mountain College. The support that we provide to our BPIs is intended to make the faculty competitive for extramural funding in order to sustain their research and encourage undergraduates to choose biomedical careers. To inspire Vermont undergraduates outside our BPIs, we provide Outreach in the form of visits from VGN staff and faculty, who work closely with students and college faculty to implement cutting edge experiments in their course settings.
All of these activities invest in the Vermont biomedical research infrastructure, including physical and human resources, in order to bring about sustainable changes in how we in Vermont carry out research and educate our next generation of scientists and doctors.
The Vermont Genetics Network (VGN) is funded by a five-year, $16.5 million award from the National Institue of General Medical Sciences (NIGMS), and is part of a National Institutes of Health (NIH) initiative called IDeA Networks of Biomedical Research Excellence (INBRE). Under the direction of Dr. Judith Van Houten, the VGN, which links scientists at Castleton University, Green Mountain College, Johnson State College, Lyndon State Colleges, Middlebury College, Norwich University and Saint Michael's College to resources at UVM, is designed to provide funding for research, equipment and technology necessary to enhance competitiveness for national funding for genetics research. Other aims of the project include increasing the number of undergraduates who go on to biomedical careers from the baccalaureate colleges, to provide and support bioinformatics capability in the state, and to increase the diversity of biomedical scientists.
There is also an Outreach Core of the VGN, which provides a team of faculty and staff (and the necessary equipment) to visit colleges to share microarray experiments. Originally funded by the $6 million Biomedical Research Infrastructure Network (BRIN) grant received in 2001, the UVM Microarray Facility allows researchers to look at as many as 15,000 genes simultaneously and zero in on specific genes, such as those involved in a disease process. Dr. Tabitha Finch is the Director of the Outreach Core. This program also allows faculty and undergraduate students from UVM and the VGN partner colleges the opportunity to enhance networking opportunities through the annual VGN Career Day and Retreat.
Another key piece available through the VGN is the Bioinformatics Core, a constantly evolving information network used to gather, store, analyze and integrate biological and genetic information gained from the microarray process and other kinds of experiments and turn it into significant conclusions about how cells function. Dr. Bryan Ballif is the Director of the Bioinformatics Core.
Our over-arching goals are to continue to be a resource to genetics researchers and clinicians throughout Vermont and to be as inclusive as possible.
The Vermont Genetics Network office is located at the University of Vermont in the Marsh Life Science Building. Office staff consists of: Christine Dornbierer, Program Manager; Karen LaBelle, Business Support Generalist; Rachel Stewart and Marianne Baggs, Program Assistant.
For more information, call (802) 656-4087 or email