Skip to main content

The temporal dimension in functional Genomics

Final Report Summary - PROUST (The Temporal Dimension in Functional Genomics)

The project had the overall objective to raise concern and foster interest into 'time' as a key aspect in different aspects of functional genomics, in health and disease.

The work performed by the PROUST project was aimed to foster European competitiveness on the standardisation of tools devoted to the analysis of 'timing', by gathering data and fostering discussion on the temporal dimension of functional genomics.

Through PROUST activities, European scientists had unique opportunities in researching interactions in an innovative emerging multidisciplinary field of research. They also actively exchanged scientific information relevant for biomedical technology developments, for patients' care, for drug development and discovery, with 'timing' parameters in the focus of the activities. In particular, the PROUST project has focused on common denominators (common genes and gene-products, common signal transduction pathways) in functional genomics in relation to time.

Based on a consortium of partners with complementary expertise, linked to a highly interdisciplinary panel of experts, to obtain its goals, PROUST has structured activities by arranging two workshops, one conference, and two training courses.

The kick-off meeting was held at the premises of a project partner in Tartu, Estonia, 3 February 2007. During this meeting, the project activities were planned, the Consortium Agreement and budget issues were set, and the project dissemination, including the setting-up of the website, was thoroughly planned. Special attention was also paid to the organisation of research training course 1, which had to be held in June 2007.

Workshop 1 was held in Paris, France, 14 May 2007, with consortium partners and experts. The meeting focused on: critical temporal parameters / dimensions in different fields of investigation, temporal range of such parameters / dimensions, expectations from taking time into consideration, technical / theoretical / conceptual limitations/drawbacks encountered in evaluating temporal parameters / dimensions.

The PROUST conference 'Genes at work on time' was held in Turin, Italy, 16-18 October 2008. The program included:
- symposia with presentations by speakers from different disciplines;

- plenary review lectures;
- poster presentations.

The participants included junior and senior investigators from academia, pharmaceutical industries and small-medium sized enterprises. In planning the conference, the sessions were organised to allow extensive discussions which were to follow each symposium and pinpoint priorities and open issues to be highlighted in a future position paper. Two chairs and discussion leaders were invited for each symposium of the conference.

Knowledge on regulatory genes and mechanisms for their expression along time scales is undergoing rapid progress, and the 'time' dimension turns out to represent a common denominator in various systems studied in different disciplines. It is now of primary importance to bring together the array of expertise available on time scales in different biological systems to develop novel concepts, approaches and frameworks, and coordinate endeavours. The dynamic association of networks of genes, as well as of genes and proteins need to be unravelled, encouraging the development of tools for the investigation of time series in these networks. The PROUST project has conveyed reflections and discussions on these themes throughout its activities.

The PROUST project has also debated the issue that the temporal dimension is crucial for drug development and discovery, as well as personalised medicine. Therapeutic approaches to different diseases will increasingly rely on novel approaches by which the potential of the genome will move beyond individual genes and proteins to identify candidate drugs acting on common intracellular signalling pathways. The element of time - across lifetime, gender and diseases - needs to be taken into account in such novel approaches.

The experience gathered in the research training courses has also brought up to recommendations for the training of young investigators in the highly interdisciplinary domain of the temporal dimension of functional genomics. These recommendations have also been included in the position paper.

Related documents