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$100,000 Grant for Genomics Undergraduate Research -- College of Charleston

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Published on Dec 11, 2013

College of Charleston and MUSC researchers will use a $100,000 grant to train a new generation of genomics-enabled scientists to advance the future of biology. The 12-month grant funds research positions for four undergraduate students, starting in summer 2013. The project is a collaboration between the College of Charleston Departments of Biology and Computer Science, and the MUSC Center for Cancer Genomics.

"We are now entering a new era of life sciences where the comprehensive genetic information of any individual organism can be readily obtained, so it is vital the next generation of students can think critically about issues that may arise," explains Andrew Shedlock, biology professor, and grant co-investigator. "Genomics will impact our ability to develop effective public policy and responsible business based on biology. We'll train students to utilize the literature and online resources generated by genome science, to analyze genome-scale information computationally and to creatively apply genome technology to a broad cross section of innovative research in the life sciences."

Shedlock will lead the molecular biology, vertebrate genome science, and data production aspects of the project. Co-investigator Paul Anderson, computer science professor and director of the College's Data Science Program, will lead the computational methods development, software training and computing infrastructure components of this project. Co-investigator Dr. Dennis Watson, associate director for education and training for the MUSC Hollings Cancer Center, will provide access to next-generation high-throughput parallel DNA sequencing technology via the newly established Illumina diagnostics platform based in the Genomics Core at Hollings Cancer Center.

The students will work cooperatively between Shedlock's biology lab, Anderson's computer science lab and the MUSC Genomics Core facility to became fully functional in the experimental design, data production, data analysis, and results synthesis for high-throughput, next-generation comparative genomics research.

The grant is sponsored by an NIH-funded partnership with South Carolina called EPSCoR IDeA, which stands for the Experimental Program to Stimulate Competitive Research (EPSCoR) and Institutional Development Awards (IDeA). Specifically, this grant falls under GEAR: CI, which stands for Grants for Exploratory Academic Research: Cyberinfrastructure.

Shedlock explains the importance of genomics, "In particular we need to better understand not just what genes are shared among individuals, but how those genes are regulated, differentially expressed, and to what extent this gene activity explains organismal complexity, biodiversity, inheritance, resistance to disease, and the dynamic relationships between individuals and the environment."

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