Genome grants given to two Stanford researchers

School of Medicine researchers have received almost $16 million as part of an expanded effort by the National Human Genome Research Institute to survey and understand the human genome.

The NHGRI gave out $80 million in grants to 16 research groups as part of the second phase of a project called ENCyclopedia Of DNA Elements, or ENCODE, which aims to understand the function, organization and evolution of the human genome.

Richard Myers, PhD, professor of genetics, received $14.6 million, the largest single grant, to identify regions of the DNA that regulate which genes are turned on or off, and to locate molecular changes.

Howard Chang, MD, PhD, assistant professor of dermatology, received $1.3 million to develop high-throughput methods of studying the role a molecule called RNA plays in regulating genes. "The RNA that's made has a lot of regulatory function but we don't have any idea what that role might be," Chang said.

ENCODE started as a pilot project in 2003 with Myers an initial grant recipient. The pilot phase concluded in June with papers in Nature and Genome Research. The new round of grants scale up the project, which only surveyed 1 percent of the genome.