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NIGMS to Award $10M for Systems Biology Centers

NEW YORK (GenomeWeb News) – The National Institute of General Medical Sciences expects to award $10 million next year to fund the creation of two to four centers that will pursue and support systems biology research programs.

The institute plans to provide up to $2 million per year, and more in some cases, to help investigators buy the equipment required to ramp up operations and create these National Centers of Systems Biology.

The aim is to support centers that will facilitate research, training, and outreach programs into fields that fall under NIGMS's mission, including genetics, molecular and cell biology, computational biology and bioinformatics, pharmacology, biochemistry, and other a range of other areas.

As a field, systems biology is continuing to develop and it has benefited in particular from advances in high-throughput omics, microfluidics, imaging, and related technologies. These and other tools are enabling researchers to adopt a systems approach to a wide array of research areas, but there still are "significant conceptual, technological, and cultural challenges in systems biology research ," NIGMS said in a new funding announcement. These Centers of Excellence are a response to those challenges, the institute said.

The scope of research programs these centers will undertake and support is broad, and includes studies of genetic variation as a contributor to better understanding complex phenotypes and their evolutionary and environmental context; of the fundamental mechanisms of cellular processes, such as transcriptional and translational regulation, apoptosis, host-symbiont interactions, and others; of complex systems of behavior, such as altruism, dynamic social networks, or migration, that are relevant to basic biomedical sciences; and efforts to design and build synthetic biological systems to better understand the underlying organizational principles of biological networks.