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UK Groups Award £3M in Grants to Fund Epigenetics Research

NEW YORK (GenomeWeb) – England's Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) and Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) announced today that they have committed £3 million ($4.7 million) to fund eight epigenetics research projects throughout the UK.

The money, the groups said, will support interdisciplinary research between biological and social scientists to examine the interactions between social phenomena, human biology, and behavior.

"This innovative collaboration between biological and social scientists will help us to understand the impact of early life experiences on future health," Melanie Welham, BBSRC executive director of science, said in a statement. "Many big public health issues associated with ageing have significant sociological, as well as biological dimensions. By bridging the gap between disciplines, we will help build an excellent, multidisciplinary research community in the field of epigenetics."

Funded projects include research at King's College London into epigenetic responses to social and environmental cues throughout life, which received £619,994; a program at Durham University looking at epigenetic stability in stressful environments and its effect on reproduction, which was awarded £198,339; and a study at the University of Sheffield taking a biosocial systems approach to examine the epigenetic embedding of social stress responses, which received £249,703.

Also receiving awards are scientists at the University of Aberdeen, who were granted £446,636 to study imprinting methylation; investigators at the University of Bristol who received £249,391 to research epigenetic modification interactions with social exposures, and £834,323 to understand the role of epigenetic mechanisms in shaping development and health; a team at the University of Ulster that received £499,427 to study the effects of folic acid on epigenetics and children's psychosocial development; and a King's College London group that received £493,270 to look at epigenetics in biological responses to adolescent psychosocial stress.