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NIH announces new initiative in epigenomics
Date:1/24/2008

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) will invest more than $190 million over the next five years to accelerate an emerging field of biomedical research known as epigenomics.

"Disease is about more than genetics. It's about how genes are regulated -- how and when they work in both health and disease," said NIH Director Elias A. Zerhouni, M.D. "Epigenomics will build upon our new knowledge of the human genome and help us better understand the role of the environment in regulating genes that protect our health or make us more susceptible to disease."

The NIH is making this a priority in its research portfolio, taking it on as an NIH Roadmap initiative. Grant applications are now being accepted for research on epigenome mapping centers, epigenomics data analysis and coordination, technology development in epigenetics, and discovery of novel epigenetic marks in mammalian cells.

Epigenetics focuses on processes that regulate how and when certain genes are turned on and turned off, while epigenomics pertains to analysis of epigenetic changes across many genes in a cell or entire organism.

Epigenetic processes control normal growth and development. Diet and exposure to environmental chemicals throughout all stages of human development among other factors can cause epigenetic changes that may turn on or turn off certain genes. Changes in genes that would normally protect against a disease, as a result, could make people more susceptible to developing that disease later in life. Researchers also believe some epigenetic changes can be passed on from generation to generation.

The Epigenomics Program is a trans-NIH effort led by several NIH institutes including the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders, the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, the National Institute of N
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Contact: Karen Silver
silverk@mail.nih.gov
301-435-2435
NIH/Office of the Director
Source:Eurekalert

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