Setting the Paradigm for Organizing All Knowledge of Human Biology
CSHL researcher Lincoln Stein, M.D., Ph.D. has been selected to lead the National Human Genome Research Institute’s (NHGRI) data coordination efforts in a $57 million initiative to identify all functional elements in the genomes of the fruit fly and roundworm. “This will open an unprecedented window to how the elements of the genome influence the development of roundworms and fruit flies and how they respond to the environment. I’m excited about what we can do to reveal modENCODE’s implications for understanding the human genome and the genes, proteins, and processes that underlie human medical conditions,” said Stein.
At the modENCODE Data Center, CSHL researchers will collect data on functional elements from modENCODE research consortium members with expertise in the biology of the fruit fly and roundworm from Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory; Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center; Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center; The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill; Duke University; New York University; Yale University; University of Washington, Seattle; and University of Chicago.
Stein’s lab at CSHL will lead a collaboration with computer scientists at University of Cambridge, UK, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, and University of California, Santa Cruz. His team will integrate the functional elements into a centralized database, combine the information with public information from other sources, and publish it on formats that are browsable and searchable on the Internet. Stein has built an international reputation in comparative genomics, data integration, and data visualization, making CSHL uniquely qualified for this ambitious NHGRI initiative.
“The modENCODE project will set the paradigm for the way we organize all knowledge of human biology. Lincoln Stein is a pioneer in the dissemination of genome-based information, making it readily available, without restriction, to not only the scientific community but to the general public,” said CSHL President Bruce Stillman.
The modENCODE project builds on the foundation of the ENCyclopedia of DNA Elements (ENCODE) consortium that is building a catalog of all of the elements in the human genome crucial to biological function. The modENCODE initiative is using the fruit fly and roundworm as model organisms, applying innovative methods and technologies to their smaller genomes which are more manageable than the human genome as subjects. Whereas the original ENCODE project is human-focused, the new modENCODE initiative allows researchers to conduct experiments in the flies and works that will help validate the biological relevance of the functional elements they identify.
With the help of the modENCODE Data Center at CSHL, researchers will be able to combine and compare data from worm, fly and human. NHGRI has designated modENCODE as a community resource project, which means that all data generated for this project will be deposited by the modENCODE Data Center in free, public databases as soon as they are experimentally verified.
For more information about NHGRI’s ENCODE project visit: www.genome.gov/ENCODE
About Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory
Founded in 1890, Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory has shaped contemporary biomedical research and education with programs in cancer, neuroscience, plant biology and quantitative biology. Home to eight Nobel Prize winners, the private, not-for-profit Laboratory employs 1,100 people including 600 scientists, students and technicians. The Meetings & Courses Program annually hosts more than 12,000 scientists. The Laboratory’s education arm also includes an academic publishing house, a graduate school and the DNA Learning Center with programs for middle and high school students and teachers. For more information, visit www.cshl.edu