UCSD Receives $30 Million for DNA Research Centers

The National Institute of Health announced this week that it will grant UCSD approximately $30 million under its 4D Nucleome Program. These grants will fund research centers that aim to determine how the structure of DNA is organized.

The program will also research ways of visualizing and gathering information about the miniscule and dynamic structures inside of the nucleus. Scientists hope that this information will help them understand the roles of gene regulation in order to learn more about human health and diseases.

The initiative involves six interrelated groups that involve granting 29 awards to 24 different institutions in the United States. UCSD will receive one quarter of the total funding for the program and will lead the administrative infrastructure of the program as well as lead two research initiatives of its own.

There are two major components of this initiative that UCSD researchers are involved in. The first is the 4D Nucleome Organizational Hub, which covers many of the organizational aspects of the entire program and collaborates with other initiatives to serve as a resource tool.

The second initiative that UCSD is participating in is called Nuclear Organization and Function Interdisciplinary Consortium, and this initiative of the NIH program will work toward developing and testing new technologies and methods.

Shu Chien, a bioengineering professor at UCSD, discussed how UCSD’s leading position in multiple disciplinary fields is part of the reason why it was selected to be a large part of this project.

“The funding of the organizational hub to UCSD through rigorous peer review is a recognition of the leading position of our university in this multidisciplinary field and our ability to coordinate the team research throughout the country,” Chien said to the UCSD Guardian. “UCSD has a well-established interdisciplinary structure to pursue team research, e.g., the Institute of Engineering in Medicine to which the award is made. UCSD was chosen not only as the organizational hub, but also to perform two other initiatives under this NIH Program.”

NIH Program Leader Patricia Labosky told the UCSD Guardian that the research is expected to reveal important material on the subject of nuclear architecture and future advancement.

“Collectively, we anticipate that the researchers within the 4DN program will elucidate important biological principles of nuclear architecture,” Labosky said. “The novel technologies developed by the NOFIC […] will catalyze research within the program and in the broader biomedical research community.”

The NIH and awardees will be meeting later this month to discuss the specifics of the program, but Labosky and her colleagues expect the next five years to be very rewarding for their research.

“The NIH and all the awardees will be gathering on the NIH campus later this month to establish the consortium and begin to work together as a group.” Labosky said. “We anticipate some very exciting science over the next five years of the program.”