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Functional Genomics Research Team (AAM-612-GEN)

Our Research Focus
The Functional Genomics Research Team investigates human factors related to aviation safety from a gene expression viewpoint. In collaboration with researchers around the world, the group is interested in determining how human factors change gene expression and correlating changes in gene expression to human performance thereby improving aviation safety.

Factors we are currently investigating are alcohol use, fatigue and cosmic radiation. Other factors we intend to investigate include hypoxia. Our end goal is to have unique sets of molecular markers for these factors that are generally applicable across the broad human genetic spectrum with a high degree of specificity for the factor of interest.

Nucleic acid analysis
The lab is equipped with state of the art equipment like the BioAnalyzer from Agilent Technologies, Inc. for nucleic acid analysis. This instrument has proven to be invaluable for analysis of total RNA integrity and target RNA before microarray hybridization.

In this picture researchers complete an analysis on the instrument. The inset shows an electropherogram from a single sample. Note the two distinctive peaks from the ribosomal RNA and the low signal intensity throughout the rest of the graph indicating that this material is of high quality.

Microarray analysis
Microarray analysis is performed on an Affymetrix system. This system was chosen for its ease of use, consistent performance, and appropriate throughput. Each array determines the expression level of over 54,000 genes from a single sample.

In this photo a researcher is seen placing a chip in the scanner for analysis. In the inset is a colorized picture of a chip. One can see from this picture the individual features on the chip and the relative signal intensities after hybridization to sample. Blue indicates no or low signal, white is high signal intensity.

Quantitative Polymerase Chain Reaction
Quantitative Polymerase Chain Reaction is used for validation of microarray results. This method allows us to confirm our microarray results with the same samples that were used in the original microarray experiments. Furthermore, we are able to inexpensively extend the study to samples that were not originally tested by microarray analysis and determine the robustness of the markers across a broader range the genetic spectrum.

This photograph shows a researcher placing a reaction tube in the Quantitative Real-Time Polymerase Chain Reaction instrument. In the inset, the lines on this graph show how different expression levels can be detected by this assay. Each line on this graph is for a single reaction. The further a reaction is shifted to the left, the higher the expression level of the gene of interest in comparison to the other reactions.

Please send us an email for further information regarding Functional Genomics Research.

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