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UW-Madison Geneticists Win National Research Contract


MADISON, Wisconsin, October 8, 2004 --/WORLD-WIRE/--
A Wisconsin team of molecular geneticists has won a $6.5 million contract for characterizing nonhuman primates to enhance the work of transplant biologists around the world.

David Watkins, a University of Wisconsin-Madison professor of pathology and laboratory medicine and senior scientist at the Wisconsin National Primate Research Center, has received a five-year contract from the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. The contract will allow him to expand and enhance his lab's proven, unique capability to characterize the primate major histocompatibility complex, or MHC.

"The MHC plays a central role in governing the immune response to pathogens and the acceptance or rejection of solid tissue transplants," Watkins says. "The contract will allow us to develop immune monitoring reagents and MHC typing technologies."

Watkins' team will collaborate with the Biomedical Primate Research Centre, directed by Ronald Bontrop, in Rijswijk, Netherlands. The researchers will work with the genomes of rhesus and cynomolgus monkeys at the Primate Center.

"I'm thrilled that the Watkins group has earned this award, which capitalizes on their international expertise in immunogenetics," says Primate Center Director Joseph Kemnitz. "Knowledge of MHC typing will enable investigators to design more precise and informative tissue transplant, HIV vaccine and other studies."

The research will be performed in a renovated 20,000-square-foot facility near campus. Approximately 45 people will work in the new lab. The new contract will employ five people in Wisconsin and three in Holland.

David Watkins, (608) 265-3380
Jordana Lenon (608) 263-7024,

NOTE TO PHOTO EDITORS: High-resolution images of Watkins and his lab are available at

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