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Researchers expand efforts to explore functional landscape of the human genome
Date:10/9/2007

The National Human Genome Research Institute (NHGRI), part of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), today announced grants totaling more than $80 million over the next four years to expand the ENCyclopedia Of DNA Elements (ENCODE) project, which in its pilot phase yielded provocative new insights into the organization and function of the human genome.

Based on ENCODEs early success, we are moving forward with a full-scale initiative to build a parts list of biologically functional elements in the human genome, said NHGRI Director Francis S. Collins, M.D., Ph.D. The ENCODE pilot, which looked at just 1 percent of the human genetic blueprint, produced findings that are reshaping many long-held views about our genome. ENCODEs effort to survey the entire genome will uncover even more exciting surprises, providing us with a more complete picture of the biological roots of human health and disease.

While the sequencing of the human genome was a major scientific achievement, it was just the first step toward the ultimate goal of using genomic information to diagnose, treat and prevent disease. In recent years, researchers have made major strides in using DNA sequence data to help find genes, which are the parts of the genome that code for proteins. The protein-coding component of these genes, however, makes up just a small fraction of the human genome -- about 1.5 percent. There is strong evidence that other parts of the genome have important functions, but very little information exists about where these other functional elements are located and how they work. The ENCODE project aims to address this critical goal of genomics research.

In June, the ENCODE research consortium published a set of landmark papers in the journals Nature and Genome Research that found the organization, function and evolution of the genome to be far more complicated than most had suspected. For example, while researchers have traditionally focused on studying g
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Contact: Geoff Spencer
spencerg@mail.nih.gov
301-402-0911
NIH/National Human Genome Research Institute
Source:Eurekalert

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