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The Human genome: Deciphering the Code
The long-term goal of research in our lab is to use mathematical and statistical methods to identify functional elements in eucaryotic genomes, especially the genes and their control and regulatory elements. A genome is the program book of a life, genome research will lead to eventual decoding of the entire genetic language of life and its grammar. Driven by the Human Genome Projetc, our current interest is on two related problems: gene-finding and gene expression analysis. Since most of eukaryotic genes are split by intervening sequences (called introns), after transcription of a gene into a precursor mRNA, the introns have to be spliced out and the remaining fragments (called exons) have to be joined together as a mature mRNA before it can be translated into protein. Therefore, the key of gene-finding is to identify these exons. Constitutive coding exons are relatively easy to identify, the greatest challenge lies in the identification of end exons and alternatively spliced exons. Since this requires the study of many important control and regulatory elements for gene expression. This link between gene structure and function at the genomic level requires high-throughput functional studies. Detecting cis regulatory elements and modeling gene expression networks are becoming new challenges in the functional genomics era. Working closely with bench-scientists, our investigation will undoubtedly contribute to the understanding of genome organization as well as their control and regulation mechanisms, which will in turn have a profound impact on biology and medicine.