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NHGRI Awards $15 Million for Stanford Stickleback Science

NEW YORK, Aug. 7-Developmental biologists at the Stanford University School of Medicine have won a federal grant worth roughly $15 million from the Center of Excellence in Genomics Science program.


With this funding, Stanford researcher William Talbot will lead a project to probe the genomics of vertebrate diversity, using the three-spine stickleback and the zebrafish as model organisms.


Biologists are interested in sticklebacks because they vary greatly in form, behavior and physiology. Stanford researchers have been working to tie these phenotypic variations to underlying gene changes in an effort to understand the processes of evolution and speciation. Many stickleback species also apparently diverged very recently, making it possible to crossbreed in the laboratory species that won't breed in the wild.


Talbot, working with colleagues David Kingsley and Richard Myers, will seek to identify genes responsible for the variability in the fish, and subsequently study those genes in zebrafish to understand their function.


The grant was announced July 31 by the National Human Genome Research Institute, which simultaneously awarded a similar grantto the Molecular Sciences Institute. NHGRI has funded a total of five of these CEGS projects since 2001, and plans to make approximately five more grants.