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NHGRI Pledges $10M to Investigate Secrets of Gene Regulation

NEW YORK (GenomeWeb News) – The National Human Genome Research Institute has announced plans to provide research funding to support scientists delving into the role of genomic sequence in the regulation of gene networks.

One of the largest obstacles blocking scientists from gaining a broader understanding of how the human genome works is a lack of knowledge about the functional elements that regulate gene expression, NHGRI said in a funding opportunity announcement posted to the National Institutes of Health's website today. The institute plans to pump $10 million into new projects in fiscal year 2014 that seek to find out more about how these regulatory processes work.

A better understanding of how gene expression is controlled by regulatory elements might give researchers a much better picture of how variation in non-coding functional elements can cause abnormal gene regulation, and of how basic biology, cellular function, and animal development are governed.

To tackle these questions, the new Genomics of Gene Regulation program will fund five to eight projects that will use genomic approaches to understand just what roles genome sequences play in the regulation of gene networks.

Eventually, this knowledge would enable investigators to predict the expression patterns of genes in a given cell by using information found in the genome.

NHGRI expects that investigators funded under the GGR program will work together to form a collaborative network.

These partners will work together to develop and apply analytical methods, share knowledge about how to use a genomic approach to understand gene network regulation, and coordinate use of functional genomics data.

NHGRI said each GGR project should result in a detailed understanding of the gene regulatory network on which it focuses, and by supporting several such projects at the same time it will help the GGRN members "decipher the grammar" of gene regulation.