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Epigenetic plasticity of the Genome


In this 'post-genomic' era, advances in epigenetic research represent a new frontier that is predicted to yield novel insights for gene regulation, cell differentiation, stem cell plasticity, organismal development, human diseases, cancer, infertility and aging. A central emerging concept proposes that there is an 'epigenetic code', which considerably extends the information potential of the genetic code. Thus, one genome can generate many 'epigenomes' as the fertilised egg progresses through development and translates its information into a multitude of cell fates. Research into epigenetics touches on many topics of key interest to the general public, including embryonic and adult stem cells, and is anticipated to have far-reaching implications for medicine and the understanding of the basic processes of cell fate determination. The resulting developments will undoubtedly impact academic and industrial research communities and will form an important knowledge base for policy makers and public bodies that contribute to the socio-economic future of our 'post-genomic' society. Europe has many world leading laboratories in epigenetic research. This network of excellence proposes to follow a progressively expanding strategy. For its initial establishment, 24 teams with a proven record as leaders in their field, will constitute a 'virtual core centre' to combine their expertise and resources. An immediate structuring role is provided by the concentration of these 24 teams around 8 established centres of epigenetic research. In defining a coordinated joint programme of activities, this NoE will assimilate existing synergies for building a structure that can feed three important needs: to advance scientific discoveries, integrate European research and establish an open dialogue. To achieve these three goals, the core NoE will make £ 50% of the grant available for network development and the durable shaping of a coherent European Research #'

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