Newswise — St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital has received a National Science Foundation grant to integrate biology and engineering at the molecular level to tackle childhood disease.

The $2 million grant is one of four the foundation awarded for Emerging Frontiers in Research and Innovation related to chromatin and epigenetic engineering, which focuses on how DNA is packaged and deciphered in cells. This marks the first time St. Jude has received this award from the National Science Foundation.

“The work will draw on the strengths of St. Jude faculty and provide them with a new chemical and engineering toolbox to address pediatric diseases caused by the breakdown of how genes are switched on or off by cells,” said the study’s principal investigator, Aseem Ansari, PhD, who chairs the St. Jude Department of Chemical Biology and Therapeutics.

St. Jude has nearly 50 faculty members whose research is related to gene regulation. The faculty meet every other week for discussion and debate in a new forum co-organized by Ansari and Charles Roberts, MD, PhD, executive vice president and director of the St. Jude Comprehensive Cancer Center. Disrupted gene regulation is associated with childhood cancer and multiple other diseases.

The transdisciplinary award for Emerging Frontiers in Research and Innovation will also engage colleagues from the University of California, San Francisco and the University of Wisconsin-Madison.