The Department of Genetics at North Carolina State University was founded in 1958 and has established a long and esteemed record of contributions to quantitative genetics using model organisms. The Department of Genetics is housed in the four-story South Gardner Hall and occupies approximately 35,000 square feet on the second and third floors. Much of the space was renovated in 2007. The department has common facilities including a media kitchen, growth and storage chambers and adjacent small animal and greenhouse space to support a variety of research activities using multi-cellular model organisms including Arabidobsis thaliana, Caenorhabditis elegans, Drosophila melanogaster and Mus musculus. With the hiring of a new department head in 2008, a revitalization of the historical strengths in the department was begun with a focus on building a Research Core Center in Systems Genetics. The first targeted hires were for two population or quantitative geneticists. An open search was performed and seven candidates interviewed. Two outstanding candidates were selected but before offers could be finalized, hiring was frozen for lack of resources to adequately support start-up funding due to the worsening economy in the state of North Carolina. Consequently, the Department of Genetics and its Research Core Center in Systems Genetics is uniquely positioned to benefit from RFA-OD-09-005: Biomedical Research Core Centers to Enhance Research Resources, which will result in the hiring of one new Assistant Professor with a focus on population genetics. Additionally, a second position will be created and equipment purchased to support the new lab. This application is ideally matched with the goals of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009.
Model organisms have been essential in elucidating the genetics of basic biological processes that underlie human health and disease. This is particularly true for those traits and diseases with complex multi-genic control. The continued focus on quantitative and systems genetics of model organisms as they relate to human health and disease will provide important knowledge for future disease prevention and therapies.