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NHGRI to Fund New Centers of Excellence in Genomic Sciences

NEW YORK (GenomeWeb News) – The National Human Genome Research Institute plans to fund new Centers of Excellence in Genomic Sciences, or CEGS, to create interdisciplinary teams that pursue innovative genome-based approaches to address biomedical problems and to understanding the basis of biological systems.

NHGRI, along with support from the National Institute of Mental Health, expects to provide up to $2 million per year for each of the new CEGS it funds, and plans to award up to four new awards each year.

Although these CEGS may pursue a wide range of research objectives, NIMH will support the program because it wants to fund research using novel genomic approaches that can accelerate the understanding of the genetic basis of mental disorders and the nervous system, NHGRI said on Friday.

The CEGS program was created to use the new knowledge and technologies that resulted from the Human Genome Project and subsequent genomics research to develop new tools, methods, and concepts that apply to human biology and disease.
CEGS grantees are expected to be innovative, to focus on a critical issue in genomic science, to use multiple investigators working under one leader, to work toward a specific outcome, and to tackle challenging aspects of problems that may have impeded previous research efforts.

Further, they are supposed to bolster the pool of professional scientists and engineers who are trained in genomics through offering educational programs, and they are expected to address the shortage of scientists from underrepresented minority communities by developing recruiting programs that encourage minority community members to become independent genomics investigators.

The technologies and methods the CEGS investigators develop should be applicable to a wide range of cell types and organisms, and they should be scalable and expandable so they may apply to other model systems, according to NHGRI's funding opportunity announcement.

Recent CEGS centers include Caltech's Center for In Toto Genomic Analysis of Vertebrate Development; Harvard University's Center for Transcriptional Consequences of Human Genetic Variation; Johns Hopkins University's Center for the Epigenetics of Common Human Disease; Stanford University's Center for the Genomic Basis of Vertebrate Diversity; Arizona State University's Microscale Life Sciences Center; Medical College of Wisconsin, Milwaukee's Center of Excellence in Genomics Science; The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill's CISGen center; The Broad Institute's Center for Cell Circuits; Yale University's Center for the Analysis of Human Genome Using Integrated Technologies; and Dana-Farber Cancer Institute's Center for Genomic Analysis of Network Perturbations in Human Disease.