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Research

The faculty in the Institute for Systems Genomics (ISG) are engaged in a wide range of research activities in which genomics is a common thread. Our current research activities are focused on the following areas: cancer genomics, genome-wide identification of functional elements, the genomics of model and non-model organisms, RNA biology, microbiome and metagenomics, stem cell genomics, the development of novel genomic technologies, and computational and systems biology. Institute faculty are leaders in various fields including mouse genetics, cancer genomics, and the ENCODE project. We are also actively engaged in entering new fields of research. For example, we are establishing a data visualization initiative to develop novel approaches for visualizing large genomic datasets and the development of a next-generation genome browser.

New Research Pilot Projects

The ISG is developing a world-class program for research and training in Genomics and in Personalized Medicine by mobilizing the strengths of UConn, the Jackson Laboratory (JAX), Connecticut Children’s Medical Center and other partner institutions. In order to foster interdisciplinary genomics research, the ISG launched the Affinity Research Collaborative (ARC) program. The goal of the ARC program is to encourage cross-disciplinary and cross-institutional research programs. Winning Affinity Research Collaborative Projects:

  • Early Life Physiological and Psychosocial Stress Imprints Gut Microbiome in Preterm Infants: Premature infants subjected to stressful early life experiences develop an altered gut microbiome increasing risk for neurodevelopmental morbidity and gastrointestinal (GI) dysfunction. Using state-of-the-art analytic and computational methods, the researchers will investigate the linkage of early life stress with the brain-gut-microbiota mechanism in human preterm newborns.
  • Use of Diversity Outbred Mice to Study Cardiotoxicity of Chemotherapeutic Agents: Toxic side effects of chemotherapy are major causes of mortality and morbidity among cancer patients. Genetic factors play an important role in determining individual susceptibility. The researchers’ aim is to discover genetic variants, biomarkers, and mechanisms of drug toxicity using animal models, which will ultimately lead to new and better-tolerated therapies.
  • Chromatin Interactions, Epigenomics, and Transcriptional Response to Drug Induction: Drug-drug interactions are a significant clinical concern, especially for people over the age of 50 who may take more than one medication a day. The research goal is to better understand the molecular mechanisms involved, and to better predict the therapeutic efficacy and potential adverse drug reactions when patients take multiple drugs together.
  • Neuronal Synaptic and Circuit Dysfunction in the Autism Spectrum Disorders: Autism spectrum disorders (ASD) affect 1 in 88 children and are the fastest-growing serious developmental disability in the U.S., but little is known about the neuronal deficits that lead to the behaviors that characterize ASD. The research goal is to acquire new information about neuronal dysfunction in ASD and develop an integrated approach for the use of stem cell and mouse models to study this serious developmental disorder of children.

Bioscience Innovation Fund: The Connecticut Bioscience Innovation Fund seeks to drive innovation in the biosciences throughout Connecticut by providing focused financial assistance to start-ups, early-stage businesses, non-profits, and accredited colleges and universities. Connecticut Innovations will manage the $200 million fund, which will make investments over the next 10 years in the form of grants, equity investments, loans, and loan guarantees to foster innovation. The fund will provide the means to speed bioscience breakthroughs with commercialization potential to market.