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Univ. of Illinois Wins $3.2M for Integrated Genomic Research Training

NEW YORK (GenomeWeb News) – The Institute for Genomic Biology (IGB) and the School of Integrative Biology at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign will use a $3.2 million grant to fund interdisciplinary genomics research among graduate students.

The grant was awarded through the National Science Foundation's Integrative Graduate Education and Research Traineeship (IGERT) program, and will support as many as 30 graduate students over the next five years.

These graduate students in the IGB-led program Vertically Integrated Training with Genomics (VInTG) will use the funding to study how genomes interact with the environment to produce biological diversity and how biological systems are integrated from molecules to ecosystems.

The researchers will study organisms at genomic, ecological, evolutionary, and behavioral levels. They will engage in fieldwork, benchwork, and bioinformatics in order to put the research into a "broad, species-specific context," the university stated.

"We don't want to train students to generate huge amounts of data without knowing what questions they are really asking," principal investigator Andrew Suarez, associate professor of animal biology and entomology, said in a statement. "We want to train field biologists who know how to collect data with the genomic resources available in their mind and to train bench scientists and bioinformaticians to know about their organism."

Students will be able to apply for two years of funding under the program. They will work in teams, and they will take courses in vertical integration of research.

The Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute will support the VInTG project by hosting students at its research facility in Panama.

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