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Functional Annotation of ANimal Genomes (FAANG) Project
— A coordinated international action to accelerate Genome to Phenome

News from genomic consortium meeting

by Taking Stock Contributor
Source: American Society of Animal Science web site

Oct. 22, 2015 - The Functional Annotation of Animal Genomes (FAANG) consortium, which seeks to map the functional elements in the genomes of domesticated animals, took the first steps toward an open collaboration among animal scientists who specialize in genomic study.

More than 100 scientists, administrators and representatives from commodity groups and funding agencies, met this month in Washington, D.C. to discuss recent advances and jointly explore new opportunities for genotype-to-phenotype research using domesticated animal species. The workshop was sponsored by the National Science Foundation (NSF), U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), Illumina Inc. and Iowa State University.

It included presentations from leaders in the genomics field - John Stamatoyannopoulos, University of Washington; Christine Wells, University of Glasgow; and Paul Flicek, European Bioinformatics Institute - who described the latest in genome function analysis in the human and mouse species. A recurring theme of these presentations was that the domesticated animal community is well-positioned to exploit the knowledge gained in human and rodent projects through adapting technologies, data analysis and in comparative analyses across vertebrate and invertebrate species.

"These experts did an excellent job in describing to the animal science research community what is possible in understanding genome function," said Chris Tuggle, Iowa State animal scientist and a workshop organizer.

Videos of the workshop's sessions are available on-line at www.faang.org. Further information on the FAANG consortium, including its recent white paper published in Genome Biology, also are online.

Reports on pilot FAANG projects in the U.S. and France included information on the collection and initial analysis of selected tissues and the development of plans for bioinformatic pipelines to collect, share and analyze data. Breakout sessions were held to plan specific approaches to data creation and analysis, with an emphasis on collaboration and sharing.

"All working groups participated at the workshop in setting community-wide experimental goals," said Elisabetta Giuffra, another organizer from the French National Institute for Agricultural Research. "These successful first steps are critical to move forward as a global community through leveraging previous investments that developed these technologies to study the human and mouse genomes."

Funding agencies from several countries also presented their perspective on FAANG. Representatives of the NSF, USDA, the Canadian Genome Enterprise, the National Institutes of Health, the Research Councils of the United Kingdom, as well as the European Commission presented information on relevant research opportunities for FAANG projects. Several representatives also suggested mechanisms to create new opportunities for research funding, including international research consortia that would organize the research enterprise, and potential joint funding opportunities in which funding agencies would partner to sponsor new competitive grant programs.

"The funding agencies were extremely engaged and helpful in identifying new and existing opportunities to support FAANG research", indicated Debora Hamernik (University of Nebraska-Lincoln) and President-Elect of the American Society of Animal Science. "The FAANG scientists realize that collaboration, sharing of resources and data, and using technology developed in the human and rodent genome projects are all needed to advance genomics research in livestock and poultry to ensure a sustainable supply of meat, milk and eggs to provide food security for Americans and people throughout the world."

Contact: Chris Tuggle (Cktuggle@iastate.edu)


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