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NIH to Fund Collaborative Genomics, Behavioral Science in Animals

By a GenomeWeb staff reporter

NEW YORK (GenomeWeb News) – The National Institutes of Health aims to support collaborative studies that use genomics in behavioral science, and plans to fund partnerships between multidisciplinary scientists using animal models, the agency announced this week.

Funded by the National Institute of General Medical Sciences and the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, the R01 grant program is intended to fund collaborations that will address questions about the molecular aspects of behavior that 'omics and behavioral psychology studies could not pursue alone.

These studies would enable the researchers to share information about their respective fields, and would give genomics and molecular biology scientists some experience in behavioral analysis. Molecular and genomics approaches could be used to expand knowledge about behavior, but there is a lack of behavioral scientists with training in these areas, according to NIH.

"There is a paucity of animal models for many aspects of normal and abnormal human behavior, and some existing models are suboptimal," NIH explained in a request for applications.

Researchers may pursue studies on any non-human vertebrate or invertebrate animals, so long as the animals are amenable to molecular and genomic analysis. The model animal may be an established model for some aspect of human behavior that has not yet been characterized at the molecular level, or it also may be one that has potential as a model for some aspect of human behavior for which there are currently no good models.

NICHD is interested in supporting research into normal and abnormal development, including but not limited to investigations of how maternal behaviors might interact with genetic processes associated with development of offspring in the short-term, or over the offspring's lifespan; use of animal models to study genetics and environmental interactions and how they affect behavior and cognitive development; use of animal models of specific syndromes associated with developmental disability to investigate behavioral and genetic influences on development from conception through young adulthood; and studies of gene-brain behavior associations that use genomic analysis and neuro-imaging techniques in conjunction with behavioral assessment.

NIGMS wants to use the program to fund research that addresses questions related to non-developmental aspects of behavior, or to developmental aspects aside from those that are of interest to NICHD.

The total number of awards and the money issued under this program will depend upon the availability of funding and the submission of a sufficient number of meritorious applications, said NIH.

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