The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill School of Public Health has been selected by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta as the site of one of the nation’s three centers of excellence for genomics and public health.

As a part of the recognition, the N.C. Center for Genomics and Public Health was awarded a three-year cooperative agreement for $895,208.

The center says its mission will be to provide technical assistance to the public health community through strategic planning, cost-benefit analyses and determination of how genomics can be incorporated into practice. The center will convene working groups to review current research, focusing especially on the area of cancer genetics. Research conducted at the center will be shared with public health practitioners and students through new courses and seminars delivered through traditional and distance-learning formats.

The CDC selected the School of Public Health, in part, because of recent commitments to research in genomics at UNC, including the Carolina Center for Genome Sciences headed by Dr. Terry Magnuson, Sarah Graham Kenan professor and chairman of the department of genetics.

The other two centers of excellence for genomics and public health were awarded to the University of Michigan and the University of Washington. Each center will focus on different diseases and their genetic influences. UNC’s center will concentrate on cancer prevention research, with much of its attention initially focused on colon cancer.

The center is part of a collaborative effort at UNC to be at the forefront of discussions on how genomic information will be used in the future to fight disease and affect other aspects of human life. UNC has committed at least $245 million over the next decade to this emerging field.

UNC School of Public Health: