NEW YORK (GenomeWeb News) – The University of Arizona will use a $1.4 million grant from the National Institutes of Health to create a program that will give student researchers in several disciplines the chance to study how genetic and environmental factors interact to affect human health.
The University said on Wednesday that the Human Genes and the Environment Research, or HuGER, program will involve 17 faculty members in six departments and will initially recruit four graduate students and three post-doctoral students by 2009.
"By unraveling the interplay between genes and the environment, we're unraveling a piece of a puzzle that can help improve human health," UA pharmacology and toxicology professor Terrence Monks said in a statement.
UA said the aim of the HuGER program, which is being conducted through the school’s cross-disciplinary collaboration group, the BIO5 Institute, is to “build upon the established knowledge in exposure biology and high-throughput genomics” to create new scientists “who are equally at home with genomics and the environmental health sciences, and who can seamlessly interact with scientists from both areas.”
Monks said that now that the human genome has been sequenced, the information needs to be incorporated into the mainstream.
"The question is, how do we use that knowledge?” he asked. “How can it improve our diagnosis and prevention of disease?"
The program will teach students “to frame the correct questions by giving them a background in all the right disciplines,” Monk explained, “and then training them to weave those disciplines together so they can apply the strengths of each to large populations-based and patient-based studies.”
The five-year program was funded by a grant from the National Institute of Environment and Health Sciences and the National Human Genome Research Institute
The UA colleges of Agriculture and Life Sciences, Medicine, Science and Public Health, Engineering, and Pharmacy all are participating in the program.