Genetics, genomics and bioinformatics

The fields explored by the “Genetics, genomics and bioinformatics” ITMO encompass the genetics and genomics of all living organisms from viruses, microorganisms and plants right up to humans.

These disciplines are based on fundamental research addressing the basic problems associated with the organization, stability and variation of genetic matter, DNA replication and repair, regulation of expression and evolution of genomes and finally population genomics. Fundamental knowledge of these mechanisms in all organisms would shed light on their consequences in evolutionary terms.

Inter-individual and inter-species comparisons of genomes are key to understanding the complex links between genotypes and phenotypes, so as to grasp at the molecular level the processes in play in evolution and biodiversity. The cognitive and applied (agronomy and medicine) prospects are immense.

Scientific and medical challenges

The regulation of gene expression and epigenetic controls, omnipresent in the world of the living organism, is crucial for understanding the interactions between genes and environment, the links between genotype and phenotype and the molecular functions of cellular physiology. The possibility that certain characteristics acquired via epigenetic mechanisms may leave a trace in organisms that can be passed down through several generations changes our present picture of heredity. The discovery of interfering RNAs, the importance of which is not limited to gene regulation mechanisms, opens up new prospects as a powerful tool for fundamental research and a promising one in therapy.

It is important to point out that genetics and genomics are central themes for all disciplines touching on the living organism, none of which can ignore them. They are essential for developing knowledge as they offer openings in the fields of health, drugs, the food industry and biotechnologies in general.

Over recent years, the development of mass sequencing coupled with bioinformatics has revolutionized the entire disciplinary field, equipping it with powerful technological levers that are overturning and reviving thought processes.
The necessary development of bioinformatics and problems tied in with mass data management shall have to be addressed as swiftly as possible to enable coordinated research in this Institute to be carried out unhampered.