The Common Fund's Epigenomics Program includes a series of complementary initiatives that have generated new research tools, technologies, datasets, and infrastructure to accelerate our understanding of how genome-wide chemical modifications to DNA regulate gene activity without altering the DNA sequence itself and what role these modifications play in health and disease.
The Roadmap Epigenomics program issued its first round of awards in 2008. The program issued 77 awards and produced 111 reference maps of epigenomic modifications in a variety of healthy human cells and tissues, as well as other resources and tools that are extensively used by the biomedical research community. The Roadmap datasets are available through the Roadmap Epigenomics Mapping Consortium website and the Baylor Epigenome Atlas. The Roadmap Epigenomics program became a founding member of the International Human Epigenome Consortium (IHEC) in 2010. Roadmap Epigenomics awardees have published over 800 peer-reviewed articles. An integrative analysis paper, together with more than 20 companion papers, was published in a 2015 special edition of Nature. Program funding ended in 2017.
There are many types of epigenomic modifications and their occurrence across the human genome has not been well-characterized. Therefore, one component of the program was mapping these modifications across the entire genome of many different human cell types. These include stem cells and a range of primary cell types and tissues (e.g. cells and tissues from blood, lung, heart, gastrointestinal tract, and brain). These epigenomic maps are available to the entire scientific community for use in their own research projects through the National Center for Biotechnology Information at the NIH (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/epigenomics). More can be learned about the Epigenomics mapping effort, including the relevant protocols used to obtain data and the numerous publications generated thus far, through the Common Fund Roadmap Epigenomics Program Website .
The generation of these epigenomic maps for different cellular states is beginning to allow scientists to: (1) identify which epigenomic modifications are the most informative to map; (2) predict the functions of particular regions of the genome; and (3) provide a glimpse of how the epigenomes of distinct cell and tissue types differ. These data sets can also be used to help identify genetic loci and epigenomic changes associated with different diseases.
The Epigenomics Program also supported individual research projects examining the role of epigenetic regulation in a wide variety of diseases and conditions (see the Funded Research for specific research projects under initiative RFA-RM-08-017). In addition, the program supported the discovery of new epigenetic modifications that may play a role in human health, as well as new technologies that permit enhanced epigenetic analyses, including the imaging of epigenetic changes in vivo.
The NIH Roadmap Epigenomics Program is a member of the International Human Epigenome Consortium (IHEC), a growing international effort to coordinate worldwide epigenome mapping and to disseminate experimental standards for epigenome characterization. Read more about IHEC at: http://ihec-epigenomes.org/.
This page last reviewed on February 22, 2018