After the completion of human genome sequencing, it became clear that most of its information (90%) does not satisfy the dogma: one gene-one protein; rather most of it is noncoding, yet essential for life.
Indeed, the DNA‐centered dogma for genetic information is now evolving into a much more complex and flexible dimension provided by the discovery of the epigenome. This comprises specific structural and topological chromosome components that by complementing the DNA-based information determine genome functional organization and cell specific genetic programs.
The epigenome constitutes the chromosomal molecular interface that allows the genome to interact with the environment. In this context, the epigenome enables cells to learn, remember and maintain their functional states throughout life and enables organisms to integrate environmental signals.
Epigenetics research uses integrated approaches to advance our understanding of genome function, the complexity of phenotype expression to explain development, cell identity, memory, plasticity, reprogramming and biodiversity and all implications for potential applications to improve human health, nutrition and treatment of diseases.
The newly established KAUST Environmental Epigenetics Research Program aims at stimulating groundbreaking, interdisciplinary and technologically innovative research projects among KAUST laboratories, Centers and Core Labs to unravel the fundamental epigenetic mechanism by which cells and organisms adapt to environment at large.
KAUST Environmental Epigenetics Research Program’s activities will also benefit particularly from the integration with other disciplines present on campus including Mathematics, Computational Sciences, Bio-imaging, Chemistry and Engineering, as well as international collaborations with other Epigenetics centers, consortia and corporate partners contributing to expand KAUST’s educational offer and to foster industrial development.