Thanks to media attention to the Human Genome Project, the public is beginning to have a broad understanding of the promise of genomic sciences. Put simply, genomics is the study and mapping of DNA and the genes that determine health, behavior and physical characteristics in humans, plants, animals and microbes.

NC State finds itself in a position to be a leader in the field of genomic sciences—but in a unique niche. Cutting edge research in veterinary medicine, agriculture and forestry puts NC State’s faculty on the front lines generating some of the earliest true benefits of genomics: crop improvement, food safety, animal health, forest bioengineering, disease and pest control, and waste remediation.

A major strength in bioinformatics has put NC State among the top universities in the world in handling and analyzing extremely large sets of genomic data. With the largest bioinformatics degree program in the country, NC State takes the lead in educating the new bioinformaticians who will enable functional genomics scientists to understand the results of their work. Equally important is the advent of advanced degree programs and fellowships in functional genomics, as well as training programs in biotechnology and bioethics. Comparative biomedical research at the College of Veterinary Medicine and the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences puts NC State in an important contributing position for advances in human health as well. Using animals as models, researchers are working on cures for human diseases such as muscular dystrophy, degenerative myelopathy and HIV.

Grant support for 130 faculty doing genomic sciences research at NC State has averaged $26 million per year for the past two years, and is growing as new facilities open. Between 1998 and 2004, NC State will have invested more than $130 million in buildings and renovations that serve genomics research and education. This has been made possible by state appropriations, university borrowing, grant overhead and, most importantly, the University Improvement Bonds referendum passed by North Carolina voters in 2000.

In this issue of RESULTS, and the next, are stories of some of the most successful of NC State’s genomic sciences programs to date.