The University of Michigan has a strong tradition in genetics. The Medical School has the first Human Genetics Department in the United States, which evolved from the Heredity Clinic over 50 years ago. Several of the clinical departments have physician scientists who are leaders in medical genetics research. In addition, many scientists in the School of Public Health and College of Literature, Science and Arts are well known for their contributions to genetics research because of their strengths in epidemiology, biostatistics, evolutionary biology, and model organisms. The availability of complete genome sequences of many species, including humans, has revolutionized biomedical research and has the potential to substantially change the practice of clinical medicine.
The "genomics era" presents us with remarkable opportunities for improving diagnosis, prevention and treatment of human genetic diseases and for teasing out the risk factors for common, complex diseases with both genetic and environmental components such as diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and cancer. To capture the potential of current developments in genetics the University of Michigan Medical School Endowment for the Basic Sciences has identified Genetics and Genomics as an important cross cutting initiative for future growth.
Previous investments by the EBS that have enhanced our capabilities in genetics and genomics include funding appropriations for:
- High throughput genotyping and sequencing
- Center for Chemical Genomics
- Center for Integrative Genomics
- Advisory visits by high profile scientists in genetics and genomics.
In support of the Genetics and Genomics Initiative, the EBS has approved funding for:
- Recruiting faculty whose research is centered in genetics and genomics
- Development of supporting core services including
- Lentiviral Inhibitory RNA (RNAi) libraries for human and mouse genes
- Bacterial artificial chromosome (BAC) engineering
- Pilot proposals in genetics and genomics
Planning for future enhancements is currently underway. The establishment of this initiative is very timely with respect to the greatly increased emphasis on interdisciplinary teams and translational research because Genetics and Genomics draws together scientists and clinicians from over 21 different units at University of Michigan, representing three different schools.