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Home > ARRA Stories > $1M NIH Grant Funds Jackson Laboratory Gene Ontology Project
$1M NIH Grant Funds Jackson Laboratory Gene Ontology Project

November 12, 2009

Bar Harbor, Maine — A $1 million federal research grant to Jackson Laboratory Associate Professor Judith Blake, Ph.D., will provide additional funding for an international project to provide structured, controlled vocabularies (ontologies) for use in biomedical research.

Over the years, scientists working with various model organisms have accumulated species-specific terms for genes, proteins and other biological structures, functions and processes. Yet despite the millions of years of evolution that divide a yeast cell from a mouse, and a mouse from a human, these features are remarkably uniform across species. The Gene Ontology (GO) Consortium, based at The Jackson Laboratory, helps scientists around the world use a consistent vocabulary to communicate, integrate and interrogate their findings.

Dr. Blake notes that the GO has already been widely adopted by the international research community, and the work of the GO community has instigated the broad use of bio-ontologies — and annotations using these ontologies, for the representation of biological knowledge. The new grant from the National Human Genome Research Institute will, she says, "support the Consortium's work to ensure both the accuracy of the ontologies as well as consistency and quality of annotations, so that these resources may be reliably used to draw logical inferences and to make biological predictions. In particular, this grant will support the development of standardized vocabularies for cell types."

She adds, "comprehensive integration and standardization of biomedical and genomics information is an essential component of advancing the understanding of the molecular systems underlying human health and disease outcomes."

The award is part of the federal government's economic stimulus initiative known as the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA). The new grant brings The Jackson Laboratory's share of ARRA funding to more than $8.3 million, including grants for research in cancer, diabetes, HDL cholesterol and neurological diseases. Details about all ARRA-funded grants are available on the NIH website.

This article originally appeared on the The Jackson Laboratory website. Reposted with permission.

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