New center will study the complex genomics within individual cells

The Center for Sub-Cellular Genomics, supported by the National Institutes of Health, will focus on the abnormalities involved in diseases such as autism, schizophrenia, and Alzheimer’s.

Junhyong Kim, chair and Patricia M. Williams Professor of Biology in the School of Arts and Sciences, and James Eberwine, Elmer Holmes Bobst Professor of Systems Pharmacology and Translational Therapeutics in the Perelman School of Medicine, have been awarded a National Institutes of Health (NIH) Centers of Excellence in Genomic Science program grant supported jointly by the National Human Genome Research Institute and the National Institute of Mental Health

Junhyong Kim

The five-year, $10.5 million grant from the NIH is the first CEGS awarded to Penn, and funds the creation of the Center for Sub-Cellular Genomics (CSG). Kim and Eberwine now lead a multi-disciplinary team developing new state-of-the-art technologies to measure genomics elements at the scale of sub-cellular structures in single cells. 

Such cutting-edge research techniques, focused on the function and dysfunction of neurons, may enable new insights into the basis of neurodegenerative and neuropsychiatric conditions such as autism, depression, Alzheimer’s disease, and more.

The Center’s mission is to develop technologies that enable the dissection of complex genomic interactions within a single cell. Specifically, CSG will be developing new methods to target DNA and RNA analysis at sub-cellular resolution in live and fixed cells, quantify biological processes in single cells, conduct high-throughput isolation and microfluidics chemistry for sub-cellular fractions, achieve sub-cellular resolution mass-spectrometry, and utilize computational tools for analysis of sub-cellular genomics data. 

James Eberwine

The technologies developed by CSG will help generate a comprehensive atlas of genomic signatures of sub-cellular compartments in the mammalian neuron system and, more importantly, to connect these signatures to cell function and dysfunction. 

In this age of personalized medicine, the ability to assess the genomics of single cells and their subcellular structures aims to provide the ultimate in patient-specific therapeutics by facilitating highly selective drug targeting. 

Kim and Eberwine are also co-directors of the Penn Program in Single Cell Biology, and will leverage its infrastructure to facilitate CSG’s efforts in disseminating, training, and carrying out outreach activities in sub-cellular genomics.

This is an interdisciplinary effort requiring experts in genomics, neurosurgery, neuroscience, nanotechnology, informatics, and mass spectrometry. Co-investigators involved in this project include Penn Medicine’s Ron Anafi, M. Sean Grady, Jai-Yoon Sul, and John A Wolf; Penn’s School of Engineering and Applied Science’s David Issadore and Daeyeon Lee; Jonathan V. Sweedler of the University of Illinois; and James Y. Zou of Stanford University.

More information can be found on the CSG website: http://csg.sas.upenn.edu