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Studies of stickleback and yeast win new US government funding


Baker's yeast and two small fish are the focus of new research funded by the US government through its Centers of Excellence in Genomic Science (CEGS) program. The program supports multidisciplinary teams of investigators who are developing innovative genomic strategies for studying human biology and disease. The awards were made by the US National Human Genome Research Institute in Bethesda, Maryland.

One of the awards ($15 million over five years) has gone to William Talbot, a Stanford University developmental biologist. Talbot studies zebrafish and the three-spine stickleback, a species known for its tremendous variability in size, physiology, and behavior. His team will investigate how genetic changes in these animals produce the rainbow of forms they take and the many behaviors they exhibit. Scientists released a map of the stickleback genome late last year.

The second grant has been awarded to Roger Brent, scientific director and president of the Molecular Sciences Institute (MSI) in Berkeley, California. Brent leads a cadre of researchers—physicists, mathematicians, chemists, engineers, computer scientists, and biologists from several prestigious universities—who study a signaling pathway in baker's yeast, or Saccharomyces cerevisiae.

This particular biochemical cascade can be triggered by a sex pheromone called alpha factor, and Brent's group will use it as a model to build computer simulations of other signaling pathways. The researchers hope to open new windows on the genetic and biochemical machinery of single cells that may one day help treat human disease.

See related GNN article
»A genetic map of the three-spined stickleback

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NHGRI funds two new Centers of Excellence in Genomic Science. Press release, The National Human Genome Research Institute (NHGRI), Bethesda, Maryland (July 31, 2002).

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