Make a Contribution
Laying the Groundwork
Since the beginning of 2001, approximately $300 million from a combination of public and private funds have been committed to genomics research at UNC. Significant and tangible progress has been made including the recruitment of 14 new CCGS faculty and the completion of two new buildings, the Bioinformatics Building and the Medical Biomolecular Research Building. Substantial investments have also been made to several core facilities on campus that are critical for genomics research, most notably the establishment of the Genomics Core Facility and the Michael Hooker Proteomics Core Facility (made possible through a generous gift by an anonymous donor). In addition, several new training programs have been established to encourage the next generation of basic scientists and clinicians to make novel discoveries and applications in genomics. A new Program in Human Genetics was recently established with a generous donation from two UNC alumni, Vaughn and Nancy Bryson. The overall goal of this program is to translate breakthrough discoveries in basic genetics and genomics research into clinical applications for patients. This is one of many programs we hope to establish with continued support from the public and private sector.
Although considerable progress has been made since the inception of the CCGS, we need to build on this momentum to realize all the fruits of the post-genome era. There are several key areas that we are currently developing in our campus-wide genomics initiative:
Faculty-driven research and training is at the heart of UNC’s growing genomics community. However, attracting and retaining talented faculty is a difficult task in today’s job market since other universities, as well as pharmaceutical and biotech companies have become increasingly interested in genomics. We would like to enhance our recruiting edge by offering more competitive salaries, better start-up packages, faculty awards and endowed professorships. These elements are essential for attracting both talented junior faculty at the beginning of their careers, as well as senior faculty with more experience and established reputations.
Equipment & Facilities:
Genomics research is a rapidly evolving, technology-driven field that requires the most current, state-of-the-art equipment and facilities. Financing for these needs are often beyond the scope and budgets of individual faculty grants and other conventional funding mechanisms. Furthermore, plans have been approved for two additional buildings to house genomics efforts in the College of Arts and Sciences and the School of Medicine. Although these plans are in progress, additional funding is required to make both projects a reality.
Due to the highly interdisciplinary nature of genomics research, traditional academic programs are often inadequate in addressing the unique training needs of genomic scientists. New interdepartmental programs such as the Bioinformatics and Computational Biology Training Program have been created by the CCGS to fill these gaps. Although these programs have enthusiastic support from faculty and students, little or no funding has been committed thus far to maintain or expand them. Financial support for these programs is essential for establishing a vibrant research community that fosters creativity and innovation. Contributions for these programs go toward sponsoring student scholarships, post-doctoral fellowships, seminar speakers, scientific meetings and other important activities.
One of the most exciting aspects of the post-genome era is the remarkable way in which basic research can affect our everyday lives. The recent explosion of genomic information from a variety of species including our own has the potential to revolutionize the way drugs are developed, crops are grown, and public policy is made. It is important not only to recognize this potential but also be proactive in shaping how discoveries at the bench are interpreted and used by society. To this end, the Translational Genomics group was recently formed within the CCGS to tackle some of these issues. This group is comprised of faculty with backgrounds in law, sociology, medicine, education and ethics. Funding for their efforts go toward public outreach, education, genetic testing/counseling, shaping public policy and many other important activities.
How To Contribute
For additional information about the CCGS or to learn how you or your organization can contribute, please contact:
Jason Lieb– Director
phone: (919) 962-4439
Jennifer Brennan – Associate Director for Research
phone: (919) 843-6367