Center Narrative: During the past decade, genetic studies marched into the genomics era mainly due to the phenomenal progress and development of cutting edge techniques, including (but not limited to) massive parallel sequencing (deep sequencing). Such techniques opened the way for genomics studies in many fields of genetics and medicine, but also introduced genomics to investigators of non-model organisms. Comparative studies of whole genomes and transcriptomes became more accessible for individual labs rather than large genomic centers. Studies of genome architecture enabled deciphering modes of regulation in health and disease. Finally, signatures of selection in genes and regulatory elements could be studied and be assessed at the genome level of many organisms, thus reducing the bias towards certain coding sequences and model organisms. All these comparative studies and approaches offered new meaning to the famous words of Theodosius Dobzhansky: “Nothing in Biology Makes Sense Except in the Light of Evolution".
The genomic era tore down the high conceptual walls that stood still for decades between studies of the whole organism and molecular biologists: suddenly there is common ground to exchange ideas and develop interdisciplinary research. Thus there is a need to establish a forum that will nourish such interdisciplinary interactions. This exactly underlines the motivation to establish a Center for Evolutionary Genomics and Medicine. Ben-Gurion University of the Negev has invested much effort in recruiting young outstanding faculty members that use genomics tools and concepts for their studies, and in collaboration with the more senior faculty researchers set the perfect grounds to establish such interactions.
Mission: The center will nourish academic interactions between life sciences scientists (and their students) with diverse expertise and research interest from several university departments that have one common interest: genomics and genetics approaches to study the biology of the organism at the cellular, tissue, organism and population levels. The research groups represent basic, applied and health sciences implications, thus further underlying the need for interactions. Systems studied include human and model organisms such as mice, zebrafish, drosophila, C. elegans, plants, and non-model organisms such as wild rodents, insects and marine invertebrates. The planed academic activities within the center will routinely include joint monthly seminars. The center plans also to host and organize nation-wide and international conferences in the fields of evolutionary genomics and medicine.
The center will also discuss, occasionally, infrastructure and equipment that will assist in advancing scientific research of the center members.