The National Human Genome Research Institute (NHGRI) has awarded Yale scientists a five-year, $15-million grant for human genome research.
The award is part of the NHGRI's new Centers of Excellence in Genomic Science (CEGS) program. The NHGRI awarded just three grants this year. The other two were given to the University of Washington.
"We are grateful to receive such generous support and we look forward to continuing our research into the functioning of the human genome," said principal investigator Michael Snyder, professor and chair of molecular, cellular and developmental biology at Yale, who will lead Yale's Center of Excellence in Genomic Science program.
Snyder said the goal of his project is to build on the pioneering advances he and his team made with their work on analyzing the functions of the yeast genome. They will develop new approaches to the study of the much larger and more complex human genome. The team will prepare thousands of small DNA segments from the human genome and use them to develop methods for discovering where key regulatory proteins bind throughout the genome. This will allow them to understand how hundreds or thousands of genes are regulated, which will be important for understanding human development and disease.
"Much of the human genome is comprised of DNA, whose function is not known," said Snyder. "Our team's methods will elucidate the functions of many of these regions for the first time, and as a result of these studies, we will emerge with a much more detailed understanding of the human genome and its regulation."
"The completion of the sequencing of the human genome opened up many new areas of study," Snyder added. "But in order for this information to be useful, scientists need to develop the research tools, approaches and capabilities necessary to take genomic research to the next step."
Each new CEGS grant supports teams of investigators from different fields working together to develop new, genomic approaches to address important biological and biomedical research problems. The new CEGS centers at Yale and the University of Washington will continue the NHGRI's practice of rapid data release, to provide the technologies, methods, data and programs they generate to the scientific community as quickly as possible. Each center will also include programs for training new investigators and bringing together established investigators from different disciplines to develop novel genomics tools and discoveries.
Snyder's team at Yale includes Sherman M. Weissman, M.D., the Sterling Professor of Genetics and professor of medicine and molecular biophysics and biochemistry and in the Yale Cancer Center; Richard P. Lifton, M.D., professor and chair of genetics and professor of medicine and molecular biophysics and biochemistry; Mark Gerstein, associate professor of molecular biophysics and biochemistry; and Perry L. Miller, M.D., professor of medicine and anesthesiology.