Less than 2% of our genome is protein-coding DNA. The vast expanses of non-coding DNA make up the genome's “dark matter”, where introns, repetitive and regulatory elements reside. Variation between individuals in non-coding regulatory DNA is emerging as a major factor in the genetics of numerous diseases and traits, yet very little is known about how such variations contribute to disease risk. Studying the genetics of regulatory variation is technically challenging as regulatory elements can affect genes located tens of thousands of base pairs away, and often, multiple distal regulatory variations, each with a very small effect, combine in an unknown way to significantly modulate the expression of genes. At the Center for Synthetic Regulatory Genomics (SyRGe) we directly tackle these problems in order to systematically elucidate the mechanisms of regulatory variation underlying human disease.

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