UConn Teams With JAX to Study Single Cell Genomics

Aug 27, 2015

The Jackson Laboratory is partnering with UConn to found a new center that will focus on what’s called single cell genomics. 

Jackson Lab’s arrival in Connecticut introduced many people to the concept of genomic medicine — the development of techniques that will allow medical treatments to be personalized to individual patients. And its a science that’s still rapidly evolving, said Dr. Rachel O'Neill of UConn’s Center for Genome Innovation.

"A lot of traditional medicine at the genomic level has looked at populations of cells or whole tissues.," O'Neill said. "And we’re finding, actually, a lot happens at single, individual cells that can be very different."

O’Neill  will be on one side of the partnership that will bring scientist together from UConn and JAX to propose and pursue research into what’s happening at the level of individual cells.

Dr. Paul Robson, JAX Director of Single Cell Genomics, said the applications are limitless, but an important one may be in cancer treatments.

"We can go in and take, say, a small biopsy from a primary tumor and apply these techniques, and understand what cells are actually there and what they’re doing," Robson said. "And with that information we can better understand how to treat the cancer."

Both O'Neill and Robson said Jackson Lab’s physical presence on the UConn Health Center campus in Farmington is key to this new collaboration. “A lot of this brings expertise together, it brings minds together," O'Neill told WNPR. "So that you can actually sit in a room and have a conversation with ten different people that are doing ten different things that may actually give you the next new, exciting idea."

The partners will invest $7.7 million in the center, their first cooperative facility.