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NHGRI Launches ENCODE Guide

By a GenomeWeb staff reporter

NEW YORK (GenomeWeb News) – The National Human Genome Research Institute has taken a step toward making its Encyclopia of DNA Elements (ENCODE) program more accessible and user-friendly for a wider research audience with the publication of a new user's guide and tutorial.

Published in the April 19 issue of PLoS BIology, the guide to using the ENCODE catalog is an effort to enable researchers who are not specialists in genomics and molecular biology to use the latest knowledge about the human genome in their own studies.

Launched in 2003 with a focus on 1 percent of the genome and expanded to the whole genome in 2007, the ENCODE project has aimed to identify all of the functional elements in the human genome.

The new user's guide and tutorial is designed to work in tandem with online training materials at the ENCODE Portal, developed by Open Helix and the University of California, Santa Cruz, which serves as the ENCODE Data Coordinating Center.

"With release of this guide and tutorial, ENCODE has taken an important step toward making its data more accessible to a wider range of researchers who are focused on the biology of human disease," NHGRI Director Eric Green said in a statement. "This is an essential step towards making fundamental genomic discoveries about the causes of disease and eventually developing treatments."

The publication describes data that is being generated on the whole human genome and provides examples of how these data are already being used to address important biological questions, such as interpreting associations between how single nucleotide-level differences in individuals are involved in human diseases.

The guide includes data and related information about protein coding genes, non-coding genes, chromatin structure features, histone modifications, DNA methylation, and transcription factor binding sites.

"This project requires collaboration from multiple people all over the world at the cutting edge of their fields, working in a coordinated manner to figure out the function of our human genome," said Richard Myers, president and director of the HudsonAlpha Institute for Biotechnology and one of the 25 principal investigators of the ENCODE project.

"The importance extends beyond basic knowledge of whom and what we are as humans and into understanding of human health and disease," Myers added.

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