Intellectual Merit: A two-day workshop to be held on April 1 and 2, 2011 in St. Louis, Missouri will bring 20-25 invited scholars from diverse fields to address how investments in genome resource development (genome sequencing and annotation, genetic and physical mapping, gene expression datasets, mutant collections, proteomic and various other "omics") can be leveraged and further developed in the emerging field of "Phenomics", the study of phenotypes. Four keynote speakers will deliver presentations on the broad topic of Phenomics to set the tone of the meeting and catalyze discussion. All participants will have ample opportunity for conversation on key questions and issues in brainstorming sessions immediately following each keynote talk, through breakout groups specifically oriented to the identification of grand challenges, and through participation in the production of a White Paper as a recorded, published outcome of the workshop. The fundamental purpose of the workshop is to encourage substantive and timely cross-disciplinary dialog such that new formulations of priorities for Federal funding may emerge. The workshop will include participation from researchers using "top-down" (phenotype to genotype) and "bottom-up" (genotype to phenotype) approaches. These scientists represent areas of research ranging from relatively simple single species studies through complex multi-organism systems. Participants were invited from a diverse set of fields using a range of systems and organisms, including plant breeding, microbiololgy, metagenomics, bioinformatics and systems biology.
Broader Impacts: The White Paper from the workshop will outline grand challenges that lie ahead in integrating phenotypic with genomic information in a tractable and productive manner. The Paper will articulate what benefits could arise from increased integration and coordination; identify current gaps in knowledge, infrastructure, and disciplinary interactions; and recommend directions in research and funding. Clarification and enumeration of short- and long-term goals will be of benefit to researchers and government agencies spanning a range of interests and expertise from computer science to agriculture. It is expected that the White Paper will seed cross-disciplinary dialog and collaborations to establish Phenomics as a vibrant discipline encompassing the full range of genotype by environment interactions that underpin phenotypic variation. Additionally, the workshop will include scholars from diverse career stages, institutional types, geographical locations, gender and ethnic backgrounds.
The question of how genetics and environment interact to influence the phenotype of an organism is at the heart of modern Biology. Recent advances in DNA sequencing and technologies to rapdily and inexpensively measure the development, gene expression patterns and metabolism of organisms ranging in complexity from bacteria to humans have transformed Biology. Large datasets of phenotypic information, or phenomics data, allow the study of how genetic instructions from a single gene to the whole genome translate into the full set of phenotypic traits of an organism. This workshop focused on future approaches to analyze phenotype rapidly and less expensively. Participants discussed similarities and differences in approaches for microrganisms, animals and plants. A full report is available at: www.nsf.gov/bio/pubs/reports/phenomics_workshop_report.pdf. Several recommendations are at the heart of the report, and they integrate scientific merit and broader impacts. 1. Phenomics should be deployed to solve a variety of practical problems across simple and complex biological systems. 2. Strength should be maintained in discovery and application oriented science. 3. Mechanisms should be supported to enourage communication and collaboration between researchers working on fundamental research and those translating research into products. 4. Because it is inherently large scale, phenomics research will greatly benefit from investment in new data storage and analysis capabilities. 5. Training in computational thinking and working across disciplines should be supported.