In the News

Bob Gotwals November 13, 2014 Bob Gotwals from the North Carolina School of Science and Mathematics earned the National Association of Biology Teachers Genetics Education Award for his work with the Center's Independent Studies in Computational Biology course. Sponsored by the American Society of Human Genetics and the Genetics Society of America, the Genetics Education Award recognizes innovative, student-centered classroom instruction to promote the understanding of genetics and its impact on inheritance, health and biological research. The award includes a $1,000 cash prize, a recognition plaque to be presented at the NABT Professional Development Conference and one year of complimentary membership to NABT.

Larry Jacobs August 20, 2014 Center student Larry Jacobs competed at the 2014 Japanese Super Science High School Student Fair along with 5,200 top student scientists from across Japan. Larry represented the first American school ever invited to this prestigious competition. He presented research on the genetics of obesity that he conducted in Independent Studies in Computational Biology, the Center's research course for talented high school students. Larry is currently a senior at Rockdale Magnet School for Science and Technology in Conyers, Georgia.

Chelse Steele and Larry Jacobs July 21, 2014 Five Center students took home awards from the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair. Chelse Steele and Larry Jacobs earned the a $1,000 Third Award for Medicine and Health Sciences for their research entitled Enhancing Pancreatic Islet Function in an Obese Mouse Model. Andrew Reilley, Roger Van Peski, and Abigail Harvey received a $500 Fourth Award for Medicine and Health Sciences for their research entitled Dnmt3l: A New Genetic Factor in Obesity. All students developed their research projects in Independent Studies in Computational Biology, the Center's research course for science and math magnet school students.
The Intel International Science and Engineering Fair is the world's largest international pre-college science competition, providing an annual forum for more than 1,700 high school students from over 70 countries, regions, and territories to showcase their independent research and compete for about $5 million in awards in 17 categories.

Students Center students win science fair awards and will compete at Intel International Science & Engineering Fair
March 28, 2014

Five students from the Center's Independent Studies in Computational Biology course earned top science fair awards and will compete at the prestigious Intel International Science and Engineering Fair in Los Angeles in May. Abby Harvey, Andrew Reilley, and Roger Van Peski from the Maine School of Science and Mathematics will compete at the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair, the world's largest international pre-college science competition, as will Chelse Steele and Larry Jacobs of the Rockdale Magnet School of Science and Technology.

Jasmine and Gabe Center students interviewed by NIGMS
February 13, 2014

Center students Gabe Vela and Jasmine Johnson attended the National Centers for Systems Biology Annual Meeting at the NIH campus in July of 2013. Each presented a poster at the meeting and both were interviewed by NIGMS staff. Read the Biomedical Beat blog and watch the video of their interview.

C57BL/6N and C57BL/6J jax mice All mice are the same, until they're not
January 3, 2014

CGD investigators Gary Churchill and Fernando Pardo Manuel de Villena are coauthors on a recent Science publication that describe how small genetic differences between the substrains C57BL/6J and C57BL/6N led to a significant difference in the response to cocaine.
[ Full Text of Paper in Science ]
Read the news in ScienceNews

New articles about the paper
"Research suggests new genetic target to treat cocaine addiction" in Science Spotlight of National Institute on Drug Abuse
"Common Lab Mice Differ" inTheScientist
"Researchers identify gene involved in response to cocaine" in Newsroom of UT Soutwestern Medical Center

2dscanHyper-1 Center wins AAAS award for computational biology educational module
May 30, 2013

BAR HARBOR - A 7-week instructional module from the Center's high school research course has won the Science Prize for Inquiry-Based Instruction from the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS).

Each month the AAAS, the world's largest scientific organization, recognizes an innovative educational program with the Inquiry-Based Instruction prize in its flagship journal, Science. The May 2013 winner, Quantitative Trait Mapping, grew from the Independent Studies in Computational Biology course, which gives students an immersion experience as systems biology researchers.

Instructional content from the Quantitative Trait Mapping module is freely available at Systems Genetics Online ( Module content includes lecture video, a suggested schedule, assignments, examples and more. This content can be implemented into undergraduate biology courses to integrate math and computing into these courses, and to give undergraduate students an authentic research experience.

White House Red RoomCenter student Jasmine Johnson recognized at White House Science Fair
April 22, 2013The National Center for Women & Information Technology (NCWIT) is pleased to announce that on Monday, April 22, two recipients of the NCWIT Award for Aspirations in Computing will be in Washington, D.C. to attend the White House Science Fair, hosted by President Obama. Jasmine Johnson, 18, from Conyers, Georgia, is a senior at the Rockdale Magnet School for Science and Technology; and Rian Walker, 17, is a senior at Ocean Springs High School in Ocean Springs, Mississippi. The young women will be accompanied at the White House by NCWIT member Dr. Quincy Brown of Bowie State University.

Jasmine will be presenting a research project she conducted on genetics and sleep. She got hooked on the topic in 11th grade after she took a computational biology course through the Jackson Laboratory, where she conducted bioinformatics research studying the relationship between fat and sleep deprivation. After narrowing 28,000 potential genes down to seven, Jasmine connected these genes with various neurodegenerative diseases, body mass, metabolic function, and RNA processing, Her research has developed models for study into the relationship between sleep and the different diseases and functions of the body. "With a nation suffering from the effects of sleep deprivation," she says, "studies focused on the possible underlying mechanisms of it all can lead to greater understanding of sleep and physiological effects as well as personalized medicine." Jasmine's project earned semifinalist status in the Siemens Competition for Math, Science, & TEchnology and currently she is planning to attend college at Stanford, Princeton, Brown or Yale.

Magnet students named semifinalists in national competition
Nov 29, 2012CONYERS -- Two Magnet School students helped contribute to school history by being named semifinalists in a national research competition.

The Seimens Foundation recently announced that two students from the Rockdale Magnet School for Science and Technology were among the 322 high school students nationwide selected as semifinalists for its annual math, science and technology competition. They are seniors Jasmine Johnson and Gabe Vela.

Summer Research Trip‘Life changing’ Summer Student Program offers hands-on science education
September 2012Distance learning program at The Jackson Laboratory allowed two Georgia students to improve their science education at our acclaimed Summer Student Program.

What happens when two bright Atlanta-area high school students leave the big, hot city behind for The Jackson Laboratory’s Summer Student Program in scenic Bar Harbor, Maine? For Jasmine Johnson, the experience was “life-changing.” For Gabriel (“Gabe”) Vela, it got him to change his college plans.

Summer Research TripMagnet seniors return from summer research trip
Aug 30, 2012School has been in session for a few weeks, but two students at the Rockdale Magnet School have just started their senior year. Jasmine Johnson and Gabe Vela recently returned to school from a summer fellowship at the Jackson Laboratory in Maine.

The lab is the world's leading expert in mouse genetics; it began in 1924 after being founded by a University of Maine president. The students were selected for the summer student program and also given a grant from the National Institutes of Health to participate in it.

Collaborative CrossCenter investigators describe a new mouse collaborative cross resource which promises new cures and treatments for diseases
Feb 16, 2012A new genetic resource from an international research consortium is expected to accelerate the development of new cures and treatments for a wide range of human diseases. This project, called the mouse "Collaborative Cross" (CC) resource, will increase the likelihood that experiments conducted in mice will advance our understanding of human biology. The mice in the CC have 90 percent of the genetic diversity present in laboratory mice, which mirrors the genetic diversity in humans. This will enable researchers to study traits and human diseases of complex origins in an appropriate model system.

Read the special issues of Genetics and G3: Genes|Genomes|Genetics.

GeniverseDrakes: A Mythological Model Organism
June 27, 2011 With the aid of Web-based programs that use dragons and a related mythological organism, high school students are learning about complex concepts and gaining an appreciation for how science is really done - all while having fun. And guess what? The dragons get to be the good guys for once. Read the entire article and watch a video interview.
[ Article ] [ Video Interview ]

What is a laboratory mouse? Jackson, UNC researchers reveal the details
May 29, 2011 Mice and humans share about 95 percent of their genes, and mice are recognized around the world as the leading experimental model for studying human biology and disease. But, says Jackson Laboratory Professor Gary Churchill, Ph.D., researchers can learn even more "now that we really know what a laboratory mouse is, genetically speaking."

Churchill and Fernando Pardo-Manuel de Villena, Ph.D., of the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, leading an international research team, created a genome-wide, high-resolution map of most of the inbred mouse strains used today. Their conclusion, published in Nature Genetics: Most of the mice in use today represent only limited genetic diversity, which could be significantly expanded with the addition of more wild mouse populations.
[ Highlight in The Scientist ] [ Full Text of Paper ]

Collaborative CrossCollaborative Cross Paper Highlighted in Nature Reviews Genetics
April 18, 2011 Complex traits: Mice line up for success
Recombinant inbred lines (RILs), which are generated by crossing individuals with polymorphic genotypes followed by several generations of inbreeding, are valuable resources for studying the genetic basis of complex traits. Given the track record of mice for improving our understanding of human disease, there is great hope for what could be achieved with the extensive panel of mouse RILs that is being developed in the Collaborative Cross (CC). The first experiments with partially inbred CC lines (pre-CC lines) have now been reported and demonstrate the power of this emerging genetic resource.
[ Highlight in Nature Reviews Genetics ] [ Full Text of Paper ]

Lauren ReaginCenter Student Wins Special Award at the 63rd Georgia Science and Engineering Fair
April 2, 2011Lauren Reagin has won a Biomedical and Health Sciences Institute supported award at the 63rd Georgia Science and Engineering Fair (GSEF) held from March 21- April 2, 2011. Lauren is a student at Rockdale Magnet School for Science and Technology in Georgia and participated in the Center for Genome Dynamics High School Course, Independent Studies in Computational Biology. Her winning project was titled “Isolating Candidate Genes Affecting Diabetes Using a Mouse Model Data Set.” Lauren was also selected to advance to the International Science and Engineering Fair in Los Angeles in May 2011.

President ObamaObama Praises Educational Technology
March 8, 2011President Obama praised the virtues of educational technology during a March 8 visit to TechBoston Academy, one of six schools in the New England area piloting the Geniverse software developed through a partnership between The Concord Consortium, The Jackson Laboratory, Maine Mathematics & Science Alliance, BSCS and TERC. The Geniverse software was derived from Center for Genome Dynamics work on the Dragon Genome and the Dragon Genome Browser. [ Press Release ]

Matt HibbsUsing Computer Algorithms to Predict Disease Candidates - Understanding the language of our genes
February 28, 2011How do our genomes affect our health? Center for Genome Dynamics investigator Matt Hibbs is in the business of figuring that out.

Tissue Survey from Center highlighted on BioGPS
May 21, 2010This week in the BioGPS Spotlight series of blog posts, the Center for Genome Dynamics Tissue Survey is highlighted. Check out the plugin in the plugin library, and read all about this new resource.

Petko PetkovCenter investigators find protein responsible for "hotspots"
January 1, 2010 Genetic recombination, which occurs during reproduction and ensures genetic diversity, appears to happen mainly in certain "hotspots" on chromosomes. Jackson scientists have found a protein that appears to control these hotspots.

Randy Smith and a DragonMapping the Dragon Genome
Fall 2009As part of the GeniQuest Educational Program, Scientists at The Jackson Laboratory have successfully mapped the genome of the dragon, pinpointing the genetic factors behind such traits as forked tails, webbed wings and the ability to breathe fire.

Embrace diversity! Systems genetics-enabled discovery of disease networksNovember, 2009Obesity and its associted comorbidities provide powerful examples of the complexity of gene-environment interactions in which the multiplicity of phenotypic responses that result from environmental challenges are significantly influenced by underlying genetic variations ... Using genetically controlled animal models, Shockley et al. have exploited a set of 10 inbred strains with established differences in atherogenic and obesogenic responses to a Western-style high-fat diet and here have profiled diet-induced changes in hepatic gene expression. [ Commentary ] [ Original article ]

Diversity ArrayMethods for constructing revolutionary mouse genotyping array
August 9, 2009In early 2009, The Jackson Laboratory began offering services using the JAX® Mouse Diversity Genotyping Array, the most advanced high-density mouse genome-wide profiling array available. The array was designed by Fernando Pardo-Manuel de Villena Ph.D., University of North Carolina, and Gary Churchill Ph.D., The Jackson Laboratory, both of The Center for Genome Dynamics, in cooperation with Affymetrix, and was funded by the National Institute of General Medical Sciences. [ Press Release ]

Watch an interview of Professor Churchill answering the following questions:

Collaborative Cross Diversity Outbred and Collaborative Cross Mice to Offer Maximum Allelic Variation
Summer 2000In its quest to provide even more powerful genetically distinct mouse resources, JAX is developing a population of Diversity Outbred (DO) mice, designed to maximize allelic variation throughout the genome. Each DO mouse will be genetically unique, and groups of them will approximate the genetic diversity found in human populations.

Diversity ArrayMouse Diversity Genotyping Array Service launched utilizing array developed by Center researchers
February 12, 2009BAR HARBOR, Maine - The Jackson Laboratory now offers a new Mouse Diversity Genotyping Array Service utilizing an innovative genotyping microarray. Designed for high-density, genome-wide profiling of single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs), the array was developed in the laboratories of Drs. Fernando Pardo-Manuel de Villena (University of North Carolina) and Gary Churchill (The Jackson Laboratory), both of The Center for Genome Dynamics. This cutting-edge research tool, produced and sold by Affymetrix, provides more than 100 times the SNP coverage than any other available mouse array, permitting high resolution mapping and genomic analysis.

Bed RaceThe Quick and the Bed – Center researchers second in Bar Harbor competition
November 22, 2008BAR HARBOR, Maine — Bed might sound like a good place to spend a snowy Saturday morning. But racing in that bed down Cottage Street? That’s even better — and silly, slippery fun.

Summer StudentsCenter High School Mentorships Praised
November 20, 2008
If hands-on is the way to teach science, hands-on in a real scientist’s lab has got to be the ultimate, right? More programs think so, and they are finding ways to make in happen for high school students.

RandomizationRandomization in laboratory procedure is key to obtaining reproducible microarray results
November 14, 2008
The quality of gene expression microarray data has improved dramatically since the first arrays were introduced in the late 1990s. However, the reproducibility of data generated at multiple laboratory sites remains a matter of concern, especially for scientists who are attempting to combine and analyze data from public repositories. We have carried out a study in which a common set of RNA samples was assayed five times in four different laboratories using Affymetrix GeneChip arrays. We observed dramatic differences in the results across laboratories and identified batch effects in array processing as one of the primary causes for these differences. When batch processing of samples is confounded with experimental factors of interest it is not possible to separate their effects, and lists of differentially expressed genes may include many artifacts. This study demonstrates the substantial impact of sample processing on microarray analysis results and underscores the need for randomization in the laboratory as a means to avoid confounding of biological factors with procedural effects.

Ken PaigenCenter Professor Ken Paigen receives Fulbright Senior Specialists Award
October 7, 2008
Kenneth Paigen, Ph.D., professor and executive research fellow at The Jackson Laboratory, has been selected for a Fulbright Senior Specialists project in France at Pasteur Institute during November 2008, according to the United States Department of State and the J. William Fulbright Foreign Scholarship Board.

Strains of laboratory mice more varied than previously thought
July 29, 2007
CHAPEL HILL - A collaborative study by scientists at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and The Jackson Laboratory in Bar Harbor, Maine, has found that the genetic variation in the most widely used strains of laboratory mice is vastly greater than previously thought.

Lab-Mouse FactoryInside the Lab-Mouse Factory
May 22, 2007
How do complex networks of genes control obesity, cancer, and heart disease? The unique inbred rodents of the Jackson Laboratory may hold the answer.

High BMIHigh BMI doesn’t always spell obesity, Center researchers show
July 20, 2006
Bar Harbor, Maine - For years doctors have used the body mass index (BMI), a ratio of height and weight, to characterize the clinical weight status of their patients. The lower the number, the presumption goes, the leaner the person, and anyone with a BMI above 30 is characterized as obese and at high risk for the associated complications. But the BMI has come under scrutiny lately, and other techniques that measure how the weight is distributed on the body are thought to provide a better way to assess risk. Now a study in mice by scientists at The Jackson Laboratory indicates that the usefulness of the BMI is suspect even at the genetic level.

NIGMS Announces New Systems Biology Centers
March 30, 2006
Two new multidisciplinary centers have joined an ongoing effort supported by the National Institute of General Medical Sciences to develop new strategies and tools for studying the complexity of biological systems. The centers will integrate experimental and computational approaches into research, technology development, and outreach programs. The findings from these projects will advance our understanding of basic biological processes and the role they play in human health.

Jackson Laboratory awarded $15.1M federal grant for new, "systems" approach to genetics researchMarch 30, 2006 Bar Harbor, Maine - A $15.1 million National Institutes of Health (NIH) grant has been awarded to a team of Jackson Laboratory researchers with a new, "systems" approach to studying the genetics of health and disease. The National Institute of General Medical Sciences (NIGMS) is awarding the five-year grant for $15,073,585 under a "National Centers for Systems Biology" program. The new center's goal: to understand how the 30,000 or so genes every human is born with interact to develop a healthy individual or lead to diseases.

Center Student Recognized at White House Science Fair

White House

On April 22, 2013 Center Student Jasmine Johnson, visited Washington, D.C. to attend the White House Science Fair, hosted by President Obama.

Jasmine Johnson, 18, from Conyers, Georgia, is a senior at the Rockdale Magnet School for Science and Technology, and recipient of the National Center for Women & Information Technology Award for Aspirations in Computing.

Jasmine presented a research project she conducted on genetics and sleep. She got hooked on the topic in 11th grade after she took the Center's Independent Studies in Computational Biology course, where she conducted bioinformatics research studying the relationship between fat and sleep deprivation.