Centers of Excellence in Genomic Sciences and Minority Action Plan meetings held
Meetings of the NHGRI-supported Centers of Excellence in Genomic Science grantees and Research Training Advisory Committee with Minority Action Plan grantees were recently held at the HudsonAlpha Institute for Biotechnology. More than 100 principal investigators and researchers from around the country converged at HudsonAlpha in mid-October to share data and collaborate on issues and concerns that ultimately impact the integration of genomics with biomedical research.
The National Human Genome Research Institute, one of the 27 institutes and centers of the National Institutes of Health, supports a broad range of projects toward increasing understanding of the structure and function of the human genome and its role in health and disease. NHGRI is also committed to increasing the number of individuals from under-represented minority groups who choose career paths in genomic research and its ethical, legal and social implications.
Research Training Advisory Committee with MAP grantees – October 13-14
According to Dr. Bettie Graham, this was the seventh annual meeting of grantees supporting research and academic experiences for under-represented minorities at various career levels, as well as institutional training directors of graduate and postgraduate programs. Graham, the program director for genome research training and career development for the NHGRI’s division of extramural research, noted, “These meetings are designed to enhance interaction among the grantees, NHGRI staff and advisors to the program.”
During the meeting, information was disseminated about ways to recruit and retain minorities, and success stories of past participants who had transitioned to the next career phase were shared. “Discussions about how participants will be tracked long-term and how the program will be evaluated were also part of the group’s progress,” she added
According to the NHGRI Web site, genome research will affect all populations and thus all groups need to participate in setting the research agenda and examining the surrounding broader issues.
A series of efforts across the country is geared to increasing the enrollment of underrepresented minorities in the life sciences with many offering exciting, state-of-the-art research opportunities for graduate students, undergraduates and pre-college students. The MAP portal from the NHGRI Web site –http://www.genome.gov/14514219 — includes useful tools for program coordinators and students, including descriptions of supported programs.
Centers of Excellence in Genomic Science grantees – October 14 – 16
This was also the seventh annual meeting of the CEGS grantees, and according to Dr. Rick Myers, president and director of the HudsonAlpha Institute and a member of the CEGS research group led by Dr. David Kingsley of Stanford University, tremendous progress is being made in technology innovations. “Technology applications are rapidly evolving to address increasingly diverse questions. Advances in imaging, sequencing, synthesis– it was tremendously energizing to share the solid data along with many hypothetical ‘What if?’ questions,” remarked Myers.
Myers participated in one of the meeting’s many lightning talks – rapid-fire sessions that detail specific discoveries or aspects of a CEGS project. He outlined stickleback fish speciation research, noting chromosomal rearrangements in the stickleback genome that contribute to rapid evolution of traits. Such research spurs discussions of how species are defined. Dr. Greg Barsh, faculty investigator at HudsonAlpha, also gave a guest faculty presentation on color variation with model organisms and model systems.
Currently, NHGRI supports 10 centers of excellence located at the California Institute of Technology; Harvard University; John Hopkins University; Stanford University/HudsonAlpha Institute; Arizona State University; the Medical College of Wisconsin; the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill; Yale University; Dana-Farber Cancer Institute; and the University of Southern California.
The CEGS program, residing under the NHGRI’s division of extramural research, supports the formation of multi-investigator, interdisciplinary research teams to develop novel and innovative genomic research projects. Each CEGS conducts research designed to develop new concepts, methods or technologies to analyze data that will substantially advance genomic approaches to the study of a biological problem. Thus, CEGS research will ultimately foster the wider application of comprehensive, high-throughput genomics methods to the study of human biology and disease.
A CEGS also has two related training objectives. The first is the training of all center-associated investigators, and the broader research community at the institution, in the development and use of genomics approaches to the study of biology and medicine. The second is the training of minorities who are under-represented in genomics fields.
Holly Ralston McClain
The HudsonAlpha Institute for Biotechnology in Huntsville, Alabama, is the cornerstone of the Cummings Research Park Biotechnology Campus. The campus hosts a synergistic cluster of life sciences talent – science, education and business professionals – that promises collaborative innovation to turn knowledge and ideas into commercial products and services for improving human health and strengthening Alabama’s progressively diverse economy. The non-profit institute is housed in a state-of-the-art, 270,000 square-ft. facility strategically located in the nation’s second largest research park. HudsonAlpha has a three-fold mission of genomic research, economic development and educational outreach.