For 50 years, the Waisman Center has been at the forefront of research into the causes, consequences, and treatments of intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD) and neurodegenerative diseases. The center’s work promotes the translation to basic research discoveries to clinical care applications. The Waisman Center has made numerous ground-breaking contributions to understanding and treating IDD and neurodegenerative diseases through seamless integration of research, training/education, outreach, and clinical service. Among these interactive components, research is the driving force to advance the core mission of the Center.
Recognizing the potential of genomics in brain research, the Waisman Center has created a Functional Genomics Faculty Cluster. The long-term goal of this cluster is to establish an effective and functional pipeline from genetic diagnosis to mechanistic discovery and patient-specific therapy. With three tenure-track faculty members physically located at the Waisman Center, this cluster will serve as a nucleus to integrate research, clinical service, and community outreach centered around brain abnormalities.
To sustain and amplify our initial success in paving a path into genomics research, four urgent needs must be addressed:
- Investment of new equipment to help adopt/develop innovative methodologies
- Secure adequate capacity (infrastructure and personnel) to process, store, compute, manage, and share data
- Establish more functional testing capabilities
- Biobanking and informatics infrastructure for acquiring and storing a large number of biological specimens and the corresponding electronic health records
The successful establishment and operation of this Genomics Sciences Core at the Waisman Center will have profound impacts on the future of the center. The new core will:
- Support currently funded and future projects both at the Waisman Center and across UW-Madison;
- Integrate rich multi-modal biochemical, molecular, stem cell, brain imaging, and behavioral data while leveraging machine learning expertise at the Waisman Center;
- Serve as a springboard to launch more groundbreaking genetics and genomics research at the Waisman Center, with the objective of enhancing outcomes for families and individuals affected by IDD.