Middle East Regional Genome Endeavor (MERGE)
Computational Genomics is a new branch of science that bridges biology and genetics with information and computer sciences. An important momentum for this development is provided by the world Human Genome Project. . The Weizmann Institute and the Hebrew University of Jerusalem now harbor a national laboratory for Genome technologies. Its capacities, combined with the collaborative spirit of the Middle East Regional Genome Endeavor (MERGE), allowed us to create new knowledge and distribute novel and crucial genome-related information among the collaborating parties. Much of the future progress in biotechnology, medicine and agriculture is depend on innovative and computer-intensive whole-genome methods for studying many genes in parallel. This allows physicians and biotechnology developers to create and utilize tools for studying, diagnosing and eventually treating inherited diseases, as well as inherited and somatic mutations that underlie malignancy, and congenital risks to develop such diseases. Equally important, Genome technologies allow a frontal attack on the major public health problems – common multigenic diseases such as hypertension, diabetes and heart failure. Genome technologies form the basis for novel diagnostic methods that will allow one to “fingerprint” a very large number of traits in an individual. Such methods are particularly adept to study the highly diverse populations of region, with their variable, distinct origins and, sometimes high, consanguinity rate. The same technologies made it possible to do the typing of pathogens, as well as normal and aberrant tissues. Finally, the agriculture of this new millennium will be strongly dependent on Genome infrastructures, and our strong link through MERGE forms the needed network that is provides the necessary information that all connected parties can benefit from.