Despite the past century witnessing considerable advances in our understanding of genetics, the success of genome-wide association studies (GWAS) in detecting putative causal variants has been tinged with disappointment as the effects found have been modest. Epigenetics promises a novel biological foundation of a new way of looking at common diseases because it responds to the environment and governs gene expression – thus potentially mediating a path from environmental effects to gene expression to behavior. The primary objective of the “EpiTrain” Research Training Network is to promote integrative training-through-research in the field of epigenetics, especially of young researchers, both pre- and post-doctoral level, within the frame of high quality international collaborations. By integrating academic and private institutions with specializations in technological, analytical and computational aspects of epigenetic research, the training program will not only provide insights into research techniques and paradigms complementary to the individual projects, but will also strengthen professional skills and enhance the career prospects of the fellows.
Main Objectives: The scope of EpiTrain is to develop a broad scale understanding of epigenetic processes in common disease. The goal of the proposed network is to provide open training facilities for the next generation of researchers in the field of medical epigenetic research across a wide spectrum of research and develop synergies between the different research disciplines. The proposed network will also develop an open-access data management strategy to enable data storage and dissemination. The EpiTrain training program will increase the international competitiveness of European research in Epigenetics. We will integrate epidemiological, genetic and molecular techniques to study the molecular consequences of the gene-environment interactions on a large scale across a range of common diseases. Our efforts will focus on the following broad thematic areas:
1. A Systems Biology Approach: Integrating epigenetic and genetic whole genome information to understand the aetiology of common diseases.
2. Epigenetic Epidemiology: The use of disease-discordant identical twins as a tool for evaluating the influence of epigenetics on common disease phenotypes.
3. Epigenetic Technologies: Development and application of novel biological assays to characterize the epigenome
4. Computational Epigenomics: Development of novel analytical approaches to quantify and analyze epigenetic variation.
To address these aims the EpiTrain ITN has assembled a group of world leading scientists with cross-disciplinary expertise and research capabilities. The group integrates academic and private institutions with specializations in technological, analytical and computational aspects of genetic epidemiology and epigenetics. By promoting integrative training-through-research programs EpiTrain will offer both pre- and post-doctoral training within the multidisciplinary framework of leading international collaborations and cutting-edge methodologies.
EpiTrain MARIE-CURIE ITN
This project has received funding from the European Union’s Seventh Framework Programme for research, technological development and demonstration under grant agreement no 316758.