Newsmaker: Dekker, Weng talk to Telegram about ENCODE

By Jim Fessenden

UMass Medical School Communications

October 03, 2012

Job Dekker, PhD, professor of biochemistry & molecular pharmacology and co-director of the Program in Systems Biology, and Zhiping Weng, PhD, professor of biochemistry & molecular pharmacology and director of the Program in Bioinformatics and Integrative Biology, talked to the Worcester Telegram and Gazette about the Medical School’s participation in the ENCyclopedia Of DNA Elements (ENCODE) project. A massive consortium of more than 400 scientists, the group published findings last month showing that 80 percent of the human genome—the majority of which was once considered genetic junk—performs fundamental biological functions that control when and how genes are activated.

Dr. Dekker told Brian Boyd at the Telegram and Gazette that UMMS recognizes how important the fields of bioinformatics and systems biology are to unraveling the inner workings of the human genome. As a consequence, it has emphasized and invested in those areas accordingly. “With the establishment of Program in Systems Biology and the Program in Bioinformatics and Integrative Biology, the university has positioned itself in a very competitive way in this new field that I would say is on the cutting edge of science,” Dekker said.

Read the full Telegram and Gazette story here: UMass Med professors are sleuths of the genome