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German Research Association to Spend $32M on Systems Bio Initiative

NEW YORK (GenomeWeb News) — The Helmholtz Association of German Research Centers yesterday said it has launched an initiative to study how genomics, proteomics, and other fields can help identify the causes of complex diseases and disorders.
The Helmholtz Association said its Initiative and Networking Fund will spend around €24 million ($32.3 million) on the initiative through 2011. It said it will also create a network of partners that will invest “similar sums from their own funds.”
The association said the program will systematically study cellular processes “to provide a better understanding of how, for example, cancer or diseases of the cardiovascular and nervous systems develop."
Specifically, it will study signal transmission processes in cancer cells; molecular bases of neurodegenerative and cardiovascular diseases; toxin influence on cell metabolism; non-coding RNA in regulatory networks; neuronal structure and function in the brain; and modeling of brain functions.
The aim is to “build a comprehensive picture of the processes on all levels, from genome to proteome, from organelles to the total organism,” said Otmar Wiestler, Helmholtz vice president for health and chairman of the management board and scientific director of the German Cancer Research Center.
Helmholtz President Jürgen Mlynek said the program “will benefit the diagnosis, prevention, and therapy of many widespread diseases [and] strengthen the position of systems biology in Germany as a whole.”
The Helmholtz Association contributes funds to solve “major challenges facing society, science, and the economy” in several research areas, and has an annual budget of around €2.3 billion spread around 15 research centers.