NEW YORK (GenomeWeb News) — The University of California, San Diego has received a $16.6 million grant from the National Institutes of Health to help support a center that will study modifications that affect and alter genetic behavior across the human genome.
The five-year grant, awarded under the NIH's $190 million Reference Epigenome Mapping Center program, will fund interdisciplinary studies to comprehensively map elements of the human genome, UCSD Tuesday.
"Just as the Human Genome Project provided a picture of the sequence of genomes, our work [with the reference epigenome mapping center] will help create a map of the processes that impact gene regulation — what turns genes on and off — in order to improve our understanding of what drives human development and disease," explained lead investigator Bing Ren, who heads the Laboratory of Gene Regulation at UCSD's Ludwig Institute for Cancer Research.
Our hope is that understanding how and when epigenetic processes control genes throughout our lives will lead to more effective ways to prevent and treat disease," Ren added.
Researchers at UCSD will generate genome-wide profiles of histone modifications and will they will create a 'map' of DNA methylation.
Ren's team will study aspects of epigenetics that drive differentiation in embryonic stem cells, including the mechanisms that determine cellular renewal, and they will grow and collect human primary fibroblast cells, which are found in skin and other connective tissue that is easily grown in cell culture.