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Germany Launches $20.1M Epigenomic Mapping Initiative

NEW YORK (GenomeWeb News) – The German Ministry for Research and Education (BMBF) plans to invest €16 million ($20.1 million) over five years into an initiative to generate epigenome maps, called DEEP, that will be a contributor to the International Human Epigenome Consortium (IHEC).

The DEEP project is comprised of 21 German interdisciplinary research groups including partners at the Max Planck Institute for Immunology and Epigenetics, the Max-Planck Institute for Molecular Genetics, Qiagen, and Saarland University. It intends to generate 70 reference epigenome maps of major cell and tissue types in normal and diseased states using next-generation sequencing.

The initiative seeks to create high-quality reference epigenomes that will be deposited in public libraries that are coordinated by IHEC, and it will involve functional model studies that use mouse and human cell systems to study molecular processes of complex systemic diseases.

The DEEP effort's disease studies are focused on metabolic diseases including obesity, fatty liver disease, bowel disease, and rheumatic arthritis.

IHEC's other supporting members include the National Institutes of Health's Roadmap Epigenomics Program; the European Commission; the Canadian Institutes for Health Research; South Korea's Center for Genome Science; and others.

IHEC aims to coordinate the production of reference maps of human epigenomes and coordinate distribution of data to the research community and accelerate translation of this new knowledge into health and diseases. It also intends to set up a structure to coordinate the international effort and help organize consortia and reduce redundancy in research efforts.

IHEC also will to interact with other projects, such as the International Cancer Genomic Consortium and the Encyclopedia of DNA Elements (ENCODE) project, and catalyze the development of new technologies.

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