The University of Maine together with The Jackson Laboratory and the Maine Medical Center Research Institute, has initiated an interdisciplinary, inter-institutional degree program in Functional Genomics, supported by an interactive faculty from the three institutions.
Functional Genomics is the field of unraveling the information encoded in the human and other genomes. It includes, but is not limited to, determining the function of all coding units within the genome, the relationship between primary amino acid sequence and protein structure, the identification of specific DNA sequences that control gene expression, and understanding the role of the three-dimensional structure of the nucleus plays in gene expression. Many times the strategy for answering functional genomics questions are based on technologies that allow for genome-wide scanning of sequence and structure rather than the study of individual genes. These types of experiments rely in large part on the development of high-throughput technologies and the ability to do large-scale computational analysis in a short time. As a consequence, the field of Functional Genomics requires a greater level of interdisciplinary interaction between the biological, physical and computational sciences than previously seen with other disciplines, although it is likely to become true for all biomedical/biological sciences in the near future. The increased need for interdisciplinary research in turn requires scientists trained to work interactively in multiple disciplines. In response the Interdisciplinary Ph.D. in Functional Genomics is a new educational paradigm developed to train students who can move freely among the disciplines needed to investigate genome function. The students move from a base curriculum giving coverage in the biological, physical and computational sciences to an interdisciplinary thesis project requiring two mentors from two different disciplines. Throughout this process students are in constant contact with other students and with faculty, learning to communicate easily in the different “languages” scientists use. Finally, the degree program provides the bridge linking a set of “virtual” interdependent research Centers of Excellence in: genetics/genomics; cell/molecular biology; biophysics/bioengineering; and computational biology/bioinformatics.
Major research areas:
Control of development in model organisms
- genetic and molecular mechanisms controlling mouse and zebrafish development
- stem cells
- mouse models of human disease
- molecular aspects of angiogenesis
- gene-gene interactions in complex traits
Computational sciences, bioinformatics and biostatistics
- statistical genetics and mathematical modeling of complex traits
- genome-wide scanning for cis-acting sequences in regulatory networks
- automated extraction of spatial information from digital imagery
- information management and display concepts applied to genome data
- systems for data integration
Surface science and biosensor development
- new methods for imaging of the nuclear architecture
- quantum dots and nanoparticles and the development of new molecular probes
- microsensors,biosensors and instrumentation and their fabrication
- surface,interfacial,and thin film properties of materials
- analysis of complex molecules by mass spectrometry
For more information
This program supported by a grant from the National Science Foundation - Integrative Graduate Research and Education Traineeship Program (IGERT). Current stipends for incoming students are $30,000 per year plus tuition, fees, insurance.