Researchers at the Broad Institute of Harvard and MIT announced today that they have received a grant from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to map the epigenomes of a variety of medically important cell types, including human embryonic stem cells. The five-year, ~$15M grant, part of the NIH Roadmap for Medical Research, designates the institute as one of four Reference Epigenome Mapping Centers nationwide that will aim to transform the understanding of an exquisite control system a code of so-called "epigenetic" cues that specify when and where in the body genes are made active. To systematically decipher and analyze these controls, researchers from across the Harvard and MIT communities will come together to study at least 100 distinct types of human cells using the latest methods in stem cell biology, genomics, technology, computation, and production-scale research.
"The human epigenome is arguably the next frontier of genomic research," said co-principal investigator Alex Meissner, who is an associate member at the Broad Institute and an assistant professor in the Department of Stem Cell and Regenerative Biology at Harvard University. "Bolstered by recent technological advances, this award will enable us to create comprehensive epigenomic maps of a variety of human cells and to share that data with the worldwide scientific community."
"Epigenomics lies at a key intersection point between genome biology and human disease," said Bradley Bernstein, a co-principal investigator as well as a Broad Institute associate member and an assistant professor at Harvard Medical School and Massachusetts General Hospital. "By glimpsing the normal epigenome at unprecedented breadth and depth, we will lay the critical groundwork for future insights into the epigenetic basis of a variety of diseases, including cancers."
An overarching question in human biology is how cells in the body, with the exact same DNA, adopt such distinct forms and fun
|Contact: Nicole Davis|
Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard