The Center for Genome Dynamics

Why Create a Center for Systems Biology?

The Center for Genome Dynamics is one of ten National Centers for Systems Biology supported by the National Institute of General Medical Sciences (NIGMS). The primary mission of these Centers is to promote institutional development of multidisciplinary research, training, and outreach programs that focus on systems-level studies of biomedical phenomena within the NIGMS mission.

Understanding the Dynamics of the Mammalian Genome

Investigators within the Center for Genome Dynamics previously used inbred mice to show that mammalian genomes contain extensive, regional domains of functionally related elements that coalesced over evolutionary time to promote the coinheritance and survival of compatible sets of alleles at functionally related genes, and that domains on separate chromosomes interact in a distinctly non-random manner, forming scale-free networks. In effect, the mammalian genome is a dynamic system which varies spatially in its organization and expression and temporally in its evolution and inheritance.

Performing Multidisciplinary Research

Using a team of computational biologists, molecular biologists and geneticists, the Center is extending these studies of genome dynamics as an integrated system from an evolutionary perspective. This requires using computational approaches on large data sets generated by the Center to describe the interactions between genome organization, gene expression, phenotype determination and the impact of recombination hotspots in determining inheritance of co-adapted sets of alleles. By developing detailed maps of these interactions we can evaluate the underlying principles. We are housed at The Jackson Laboratory and at The University of North Carolina, with collaborators at The University of Wisconsin-Madison and Oakridge National Laboratory. Gary Churchill is the Principal Investigator of the Center.

Promoting Education and Outreach

We have developed training and outreach programs to make Center information and tools available to the research community at large and initiate efforts to promote the development of this research area, taking advantage of The Jackson Laboratory's sustained programs in related efforts. To promote the long-term growth of this field of endeavour, in addition to the established faculty that have come together to pursue this program, we are supporting several younger faculty so that their related efforts can flourish and develop over time.

Discovering the Mechanisms Underlying Human Health and Disease

Center projects are designed to enhance our research capabilities for discovering the molecular mechanisms underlying human health and disease. Recent advances in genomic sciences have made it clear that reaching these understandings is a powerful step forward in developing improved prevention and therapy for our most common ills, including cancer, heart disease, and disorders of the immune and neurological systems.