A long term objective of IHEC is to understand the extent to which the epigenome has shaped human populations over generations and in response to the environment.
On a more detailed level IHEC pursues the following goals:
- Coordinate the production of reference maps of human epigenomes for key cellular states relevant to health and diseases. To have a substantial coverage of the human epigenome, the IHEC sets the ambitious goal to decipher at least 1000 epigenomes within the next 7-10 years. To reach this goal, the consortium will use robust and validated technologies to generate:
- very high resolution maps of informative histone modifications
- high resolution DNA methylation maps
- landmark maps for transcription start sites of all protein coding genes
- entire catalogue of and expression patterns of non-coding and small RNAs
- comparative analysis of epigenome maps of model organisms relevant to human health and diseases
- IHEC will focus on key cellular states such as stemness, immortality, proliferation, differentiation, senescence, and stress, thereby generating new knowledge that will catalyse progress in health research and regenerative medicine.
Surveys of individuals, pedigrees and genetically identical twins will be used to determine the relationship between genetic and epigenetic variation worldwide.
- Coordinate rapid distribution of the data to the entire research community with minimal restrictions, to accelerate translation of this new knowledge into health and diseases. IHEC will coordinate the development of common bioinformatics standards, data models and analytical tools to organize, integrate and display whole epigenomic data generated from this important international effort.
- IHEC will set up the efficient structure that will coordinate this international effort so that the interest and priorities of individual participants, self-organising consortia, funding agencies and nations are addressed. IHEC will encourage the minimal amount of redundancy between the different epigenetics efforts around the world. IHEC will also interact and coordinate its efforts with other international projects, such as the International Cancer Genomic Consortium (ICGC) and ENCODE.
- Catalyse the development of new and robust technologies that will facilitate the characterisation and functional analysis of the epigenome in health and diseases thereby driving substantially down the costs of epigenome mapping.
- Support the dissemination of knowledge and standards related to new technologies, software, and methods to facilitate data integration and sharing between epigenetic researchers around the globe.