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Institute for Genomic Biology, School of Integrative Biology receive major NSF training grant
Date:10/3/2011

The National Science Foundation has awarded the Institute for Genomic Biology (IGB) and the School of Integrative Biology a $3.2 million training grant. NSF's Integrative Graduate Education and Research Traineeship (IGERT) is a highly regarded grant program that was founded in 1998 and has, thus far, provided interdisciplinary research training to approximately 5,000 graduate students.

The University of Illinois grant, Vertically Integrated Training With Genomics (VInTG), will provide support for as many as 30 graduate students over the next five years. Students will learn ways to both ask and answer the big research questions of the coming decades, says principal investigator Andrew Suarez, associate professor of Animal Biology and Entomology and IGB affiliate.

VInTG will address two "grand challenges" in biology: How do genomes interact with the environment to produce biological diversity? and How are biological systems integrated from molecules to ecosystems? Answering these questions will help both science and society determine how to maintain food security under climate change; how to integrate genetics and ecology to study emerging infectious diseases; and how organisms' responses to climate change influence biodiversity and ecosystem function.

"We think this vertically integrated approach will shed light on these kinds of grand challenges," says Suarez.

VInTG will focus on what Suarez calls "back to the future" approaches. Over the past several decades graduate training and scientific research generally has become highly specialized. This approach resulted in major advances, particularly in the genomic and bioinformatics fields. As a result, with hundreds or even thousands of animal and plant genome sequences becoming available, nearly all levels of biological inquiry are becoming "genome-powered." Consequently, Suarez and his co-PIs, Gene Robinson (Department of Entomology), Carla Cceres (Department of Animal Biolo
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Contact: Nicholas Vasi
nvasi@illinois.edu
Institute for Genomic Biology, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Source:Eurekalert

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