Funding is requested to support a comprehensive training program in Vertebrate Developmental Genomics. The program will be conducted under the umbrella of Cornell University's Center for Vertebrate Genomics (CVG), an administrative unit with University-wide faculty representation. This proposed program will focus on training, at any one time, three predoctoral students who have chosen a thesis advisor and have finished one mandatory semester of teaching assistantship. The program will emphasize multidisciplinary and comparative approaches to studying developmental genomics. Accordingly, seventeen experienced faculty, who adhere to these tenets, will serve as trainers. They represent a gamut of expertise, including classical developmental biology, functional genomics, developmental genetics, complex traits, statistical genetics, and computational genomics. Their research concentrates primarily on vertebrate organisms, including mice, zebrafish, dog, horse, and humans, but also represented are C. elegans and Drosophila. They also provide expertise in several important areas of vertebrate development and disease, including neurobiology, reproductive biology, stem cells, organogenesis, heart disease &function, chromatin structure &function, early postimplantation development, intrauterine fetal development and disease, aging, evolution of development, epigenetics, nutritional genomics, as well as cancer. In preparation for an NIH supported program, the training paradigm and infrastructure has been developed by the CVG with University seed support. Graduate students in their 2nd year and beyond will be selected from several existing graduate fields across campus. Selection will be based upon academic and research promise of the student, with a preference for those conducting collaborative or multidisciplinary research. Trainees will be required to obtain a minor degree in Genomics, and participate in several activities related to the training theme, including the student/fellow-organized Vertebrate Genomics Journal Club;the Developmental Biology Journal Club;the "VERGE" (Vertebrate Genomics) research series;the annual CVG symposium;the annual CVG electronic poster session;as well as relevant external conferences and courses. Selection of students and monitoring of their progress will be overseen by a training committee, in addition to their thesis committee. This proposed program will take place in the context of Cornell University's new Life Sciences Initiative, the largest effort in its history. Coupled with an exceptional tradition of dedication to training academic researchers and targeted Institutional support for Vertebrate Genomics, this program will provide an outstanding environment for trainees.
Critical to the understanding of disease and birth defects is a solid comprehension of the underlying molecular and genetic mechanisms of development. These basic mechanisms have been elucidated through the study of many powerful model organisms and extrapolated to humans. This program will provide trainees with a comprehension and appreciation of the important problems in animal development, and experience in using state-of-the-art genomics tools to address new frontiers in this area.
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