The National Human Genome Research Institute (NHGRI) and National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS), both part of the National Institutes of Health, announced a $5.3 million grant to understand at a fundamental level how genes and the environment interact to cause human disease. The collaborative project is led by Andrew Feinberg, professor in Molecular Medicine and director of JHU's Center for Epigenetics, and David Threadgill, director of the Institute of Genome Sciences and Society at Texas A&M University. The environment is perhaps the major contributor to human disease, yet its effect is virtually impossible to control for in human genetic studies. One example of how the team is circumventing this problem is by modeling in a highly genetically diverse set of mouse strains an extremely important exposure highly relevant to many human populations: exposure to lead and its relationship to adverse health outcomes. The team will use advanced genomic and mathematical methods and relate these directly to human disease population studies to understand how our individual genomes and individual exposures affect human health.

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