The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA)—a research entity with the U.S. Department of Defense—has awarded Mount Sinai researchers a contract worth up to $27.8 million over four years.
Crain’s New York Business reports the contact is awarded as part of DARPA’s new Epigenetic Characterization and Observation, or ECHO, program. It will be employed to find so-called gene expression signatures in blood that identify exposures to infectious agents, chemicals and radiation, which could be associated with weapons of mass destruction.
The Mount Sinai team have formed academic and industry partners for this endeavor and plan on utilizing the epigenome. The epigenome determines how a person’s genes are expressed over time. An individual’s DNA doesn’t change over time, but the environment may leave marks on DNA that change how genes are expressed.
Dr. Stuart Sealfon, director of the Center for Translational Systems Biology, Ichan School of Medicine