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NHGRI to Expand ENCODE Funding This Fall

NEW YORK (GenomeWeb News) – The National Human Genome Research Institute plans to expand its Encyclopedia of DNA Elements (ENCODE) project by funding new research to further catalog functional elements in the human and mouse genomes, and to a lesser extent in the flatworm and fruit fly genomes.

NHGRI said this week that it plans to publish funding announcements this fall for the new ENCODE research, data analysis, and data coordinating centers. The notice follows the decision in May by the National Advisory Council for Human Genome Research (NACHGR) to set aside $123 million to expand the program with a new emphasis on human and mouse genomes.

NHGRI said it sent out the notice early to give researchers ample time to "develop meaningful collaborations and responsive projects."

The expansion is aimed at creating as complete a catalog as possible by supporting ways to store, display, and release ENCODE data, and by funding grants to expand the pool of researchers who are analyzing all of these data, GenomeWeb Daily News reported in its coverage of the May meeting.

One of the solicitations will fund researchers studying the human and mouse genomes, as well as C. elegans and D. melanogaster, but NHGRI said that it expects to begin to phase out research focused on these latter two models. These studies should use high-throughput genomics approaches to expand these catalogs, and they will participate in a single collaborative research network consortium. The research may include approaches involving functional genomics, genomic data analysis, model organisms, and bioinformatics.

A second program will support analyses of the functional genomic data being generated by the ENCODE research network. These activities could include developing new methods to improve on analysis and interpretation of these data or to improve on analysis of disease mapping studies to identify causal variants.

The third prong of the program will fund development of data coordination activities that will develop, house, and maintain databases to track, store, and provide access to these ENCODE data. NHGRI is encouraging investigators to apply for this program who have expertise in bioinformatics and computational biology and who will collaborate in data management, as well as in genomic and statistical data analysis studies.