click to enlarge
Morgan Giddings, Ph.D., left, and Xian Chen, Ph.D., right. Photo by Courtney Potter.
Their effort will be part of a consortium of investigators studying the human genome blueprint, titled the “ENCyclopedia Of DNA Elements” (ENCODE). The consortium’s overall goal is to assemble a comprehensive catalog of functional elements in the human genome.
Ever since the first genome sequence was published in 2001, scientists have been working to figure out what the sequence means. An analogy is walking across a desert and finding a large book in a language you don't know, then trying to figure out what the book is saying.
“In the case of the human genome, the book is a blueprint to building cells—and ultimately—the whole human. But we don't yet understand its language,” said, associate professor of microbiology and immunology and of biomedical engineering at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
Giddings and UNC colleague, associate professor of biochemistry and biophysics, have been developing methods for decoding the human blueprint by studying the things the blueprint produces: proteins. They relate the proteins back to the blueprint itself, to further decode the language of the genome blueprint.
Giddings and Chen have been awarded a $1.6 million 2-year “Grand Opportunities” (GO) grant from the National Human Genome Research Institute to accelerate this research. Their effort will be part of a consortium of investigators studying the human genome blueprint, titled the “ENCyclopedia Of DNA Elements” (ENCODE). The consortium’s overall goal is to assemble a comprehensive catalog of functional elements in the human genome.
With their GO grant, Giddings and Chen will generate, analyze, and release to the public large-scale data sets that allow linking of the protein products in cells to their genomic blueprints. According to Giddings, “this will significantly promote our understanding of the language of the human genome, enhancing efforts to solve pressing human health issues like heart disease and cancer by understanding how errors in the blueprint lead to disease, and how we might fix those errors.”
Giddings is a member of the, and Chen is technology development director for the . The new grant will bring 4-6 new high-tech jobs to the Triangle.
NHGRI has awarded approximately $22 million of American Recovery and Reinvestment Act 2009 funds to support research aimed at identifying and understanding the genome’s functional elements.
Media contact: Les Lang, (919) 966-9366 or
- Faculty News
ASBMB Today highlights Henrik Dohlman as a new JBC associate editor
Learn more about Henrik Dohlman, professor and vice chair of biochemistry and biophysics, from his profile highlight in ASBMB Today's December 2013 issue.
Sharon Campbell organizes the ASBMB Special Symposia Series to be held July 2014
Learn more about the event "Translating the Biophysics of Molecular Switches: Signaling Mechanisms and Inhibition of Ras and Rho GTPases"
New findings from the Carter lab challenge assumptions about origins of life
Dr. Charles Carter, Jr., Professor of Biochemistry and Biophysics resurrect “molecular fossils” to conduct experiments that undercut the predominant scientific theory of how life began on Earth.
Congratulations to Greg Wang, Assistant Professor of Biochemistry and Biophysics, who was awarded a Jefferson Pilot Fellowship from UNC School of Medicine to further his research mission searching for better ways to shut down cancer cells.
- Postdoc & Scholars News
2013 Retreat Winners
Scott Rothbart receives a 2013 UNC Pagano Award for a best first-author postdoctoral paper
Congratulations to Dr. Scott Rothbart, a postdoctoral fellow in Dr. Brian Strahl's lab who is one of the recipients this year of a Joseph S. Pagano award
Shobhan Gaddameedhi receives CEHS-2013 Pilot Project Award
Congratulations to Dr. Shobhan Gaddameedhi, postdoctoral fellow in Dr. Aziz Sancar's lab, received $25,000 from the Center for Environmental Health and Susceptibility 2013 Pilot Project Award.
Rothbart receives a 2013 Postdoctoral Award for Research Excellence
Congratulations to Dr. Rothbart, postdoctoral fellow in the lab of Dr. Brian Strahl, Associate Professor of Biochemistry and Biophysics, who received a 2013 Postdoctoral Award for Excellence in Research at UNC.