Comparative genomics, once the poor relation of the human genome project, is seen as providing the key to unlock the DNA. According to this strategy model organisms like mouse, rat, Drosophila, zebrafish, yeast and C. elegans) will likely prove to be highly instrumental in identifying human disease genes. Europe has a leading position in the world for research in comparative genomics. In particular the study of some model organisms such as Zebrafish and C elegans was initiated by European Investigators. In more recent years the mouse ENU mutagenesis project way of originate and developed needs at GSF, Neuherberg, Germany and at MRC, Harwell, England. Such a level of excellence needs to be distributed as much as possible between senior and young researchers, thus motivating the need for training courses.
The dissemination of this knowledge is quite interesting from a scientific point of view and quite timely for European research in genetics and for the European biotechnology industry. Comparative genomics provides the key to functional analyse genes and their interaction which leads towards a better understanding of data from the Human Genome project. It requires an interdisciplinary and collaborative effort to cope with the needs of the present and future genome based research. Training young researchers in this field makes it necessary to present a broad spectrum of topics. This spectrum covers introduction of model organisms, phenotype, sequence and structure data analysis and includes such diverse areas as expression analysis and proteomics, metabolic and functional networks. A European effort to develop training programmes in the field of genetics requires a strong support for comparative genomics and the availability of training structures where both students and Faculty members will exchange ideas and strategies to be integrated into an interdisciplinary background. The centre of excellence of Sestri Levante seems to be ideally suited to this purpose.