Area of interest
Development and use of the Collaborative Cross platform. I have been involved in the project since its inception and I currently serve a director of the project at UNC, where the US Collaborative Cross population resides. There are numerous common diseases, including cancer, interconnected through complex networks of genetic, biological and environmental interactions. A new paradigm is needed to understand the interactions between genes and the environment that lead to changes in disease susceptibility. This new experimental model must support mathematical models of highly complex mammalian biological systems that predict future disease susceptibility. This concept, which we call ?Systems Genetics,? combines novel biological tools with innovative computational and statistical analyses. The UNC systems genetics program is based on the use of a new and revolutionary platform in mammalian genetics called the Collaborative Cross. The Collaborative Cross is a large panel of mouse recombinant inbred lines designed to overcome the limitations of existing platforms and to support the development of systems genetics approaches to the study of complex traits. I am particularly interested in conducting proof-of-principle experiments to test the concept of predictive biology by which mathematical models of susceptibility to common diseases are tested in a population with new genotypes but related genotypes. This idea is particularly appealing in the context of complete knowledge of the whole genome sequences of each one of the Collaborative Cross mice tested. The Collaborative Cross, systems genetics and predictive biology are three of the main concepts that underlie our recently NIH funded Center of Excellence in Systems Genetics (CISGen).
Awards and Honors
I serve as director of the Systems Genetics program that has the mission of completing the Collaborative Cross resource and to popularize its use among investigators worldwide. I also work with Gary Churchill (The Jackson Laboratory) on the development and release of the mouse diversity array (reported in Nature Methods). This critical and long awaited tool contains 620,000 single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) and over 900,000 invariant genomic probes (IGPs). It will permit the transition of mouse genetics from Mendelian traits to genome wide association studies. I am the PI of the Center for Integrated Systems Genetics (CISGen), a NIH funded Center of Excellence in Genomic Sciences. CISGen will join the nine other funded centers whose mission is to conduct highly innovative research designed to develop new concepts, methods, technologies, that will substantially advance genomic approaches to biological problems