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Innovative efforts target epigenetics, molecular imaging

BETHESDA, Md., Mon., June 28, 2004 - The National Human Genome Research Institute (NHGRI), part of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), today announced it has awarded two new grants to establish Centers of Excellence in Genomic Science (CEGS) at Harvard Medical School in Boston and the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine in Baltimore.

The Harvard and Johns Hopkins centers, like the seven other centers funded through NHGRI's CEGS program since 2001, will assemble interdisciplinary teams of scientists to make critical advances in genome science. The Harvard center will strive to develop new technologies for genomic molecular imaging, while the Johns Hopkins center will be devoted to advancing the emerging field of epigenetics.

"These centers represent two more key building blocks in our effort to lay the groundwork for new genomic approaches to the study of human biology and disease," said NHGRI Director Francis S. Collins, M.D., Ph.D. "As the newest participants in our CEGS Program, they are part of our effort to pull together researchers from different disciplines in a way that will foster extraordinary collaborations that will advance not only the field of genomics, but biomedical research as a whole."

At Harvard, a team led by George Church, Ph.D., will address the biomedical research community's need for better and more cost-effective technologies for imaging biological systems at the level of DNA molecules (genomes) and RNA molecules (transcriptomes). The center will receive $2 million annually in CEGS funding for five years.

Specifically, the Harvard center plans to further develop polymerase colony sequencing technologies for studying sequence variation in biological systems. In this highly parallel method of nucleic acid analysis, a sample of DNA is dispersed as many short fragments in a polyacrylamide gel affixed to a microscope slide. Researchers then add an enzyme called DNA polymerase, which copies each DNA fr
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Contact: Geoff Spencer
spencerg@mail.nih.gov
301-402-0911
NIH/National Human Genome Research Institute
28-Jun-2004


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