Understanding the Genetic Basis of Biological Diversity
Genetic variation underlies the vivid diversity of our own human species and of all other organisms on Earth. Understanding the mechanisms of genetic diversity and how they lead to observable variations of an organism’s physical or biochemical characteristics continues to be an intriguing and fundamental question in life science research and has invaluable implications in medicine and agriculture.
The advent of genome sequencing and functional genomics technologies, as well as the availability of genome sequences for an ever-increasing number of species, has brought in a golden age for genetics research. By means of computational and experimental comparative genomics approaches, a comprehensive survey of inter- and intra-species genetic diversity now becomes possible, and their functional impacts can be assessed using functional genomics methodologies.
As Canada Research Chair in Genomics and Bioinformatics, Dr. Ping Liang is particularly interested in a class of genetic components called transposable elements, which exist in abundance and evolve actively in the genomes of most organisms, including humans. Liang has already made significant contributions to this field by developing several computational comparative genomics methodologies and the database of Retrotransposon Insertion Polymorphisms in humans (dbRIP).
In his current program, Liang’s research team will undertake frontier research devoted to comprehensive surveys and the documentation of genetic diversity derived from transposable elements and studies of their impact on gene function and phenotype using human and grapevine as models. His research employs an integrated approach, combining the use of computational and experimental comparative and functional genomics technologies.
It is anticipated that Liang’s research will bring significant advancement to our understanding in human and plant genetics and will generate knowledge and technologies with important applications in medical genetics, forensic sciences and viticulture. This research program also provides participants with training on the state-of-art bioinformatics, genomics and genetics research skills that are essential for future biomedical discoveries.