New NASA Astrobiology Institute

Posted on 08.23.2015

University of Illinois researchers are going back to the beginning of life on Earth, thanks to a five-year $8 million award to establish a NASA Astrobiology Institute (NAI) on the Illinois campus. The newsletter of the College of Arts and Sciences has a more detailed article.

Bruce Fouke, U of I professor of geology and microbiology, says the research program is founded directly upon Woese’s work, which suggests that the first stage of life was a “RNA world” where the free sharing of genetic information led to the creation of primitive entities—proto-cells that were radically different from modern-day cells.

Fouke is a member of the team receiving the grant as well as about a dozen other U of I faculty.