In June 2011 I did a post about genomics and its growing importance both for science and society. The stem cell field has a very rapidly accelerating genomic component as well. I went so far as to call it a revolution and I still believe that is not an exaggeration.
CIRM has rightly recognized the critical importance of genomics for understanding stem cell biology and applying that technology to the clinic. This past week CIRM approved funding for an initiative on genomics that would fund, according to the CIRM PR, one or two centers of excellence doing research in this area. This is very exciting.
Areas of stem cell genomics research could include whole genome sequencing of stem cells of various types including iPS cells. We know that both iPS cells and ES cells have some unusual genomic and so-called epigenomic characteristics, but more work needs to be done in this area to more clearly understand the importance of these characteristics.
While CIRM will not release an RFA for this funding mechanism for a few more months you can read more about CIRM’s thoughts about this in their concept statement here as well as an interesting article by CIRM (DeWitt et al in Nature Biotechnology). These are PDFs.
CIRM is wise to fund genomics research. Whether you are a scientist, patient advocate, or anyone else interested in health care, you should not “miss the boat” on the genomics revolution. It will change your life.