Lexington, Ky. – Dr. Jayakrishna Ambati and his research team at the University of Kentucky Department of Ophthalmology and Visual Sciences have been awarded a $2.4 million grant to study the genetics of a new source of DNA they discovered.
The John Templeton Foundation, a philanthropic organization devoted to rigorous scientific research and scholarship, awarded the three-year grant.
The human body is made up of trillions of cells, with their own complete set of genetic instructions. This set of instructions is known as our genome and is made up of DNA. Within this DNA is a unique chemical code that guides human growth, development and health.
The Ambati lab discovered a new ecosystem of genetic information that is separate from the traditional, well-known DNA in our genome. They plan to study the function and heritability of these newly discovered DNA molecules in this project.
“We are hopeful that these studies will shed new light both on organismal development and diseases of aging, such as Alzheimer’s disease and macular degeneration,” Ambati said.
Research in genetics was a long-standing interest of Sir John Templeton, the organization’s founder. Templeton saw the extraordinary potential for explaining the deepest principles of life’s evolution and for providing large-scale, transformative breakthroughs in fields like medicine and agriculture. He was particularly interested in how major advances in genetics might serve to empower individuals, leading to spiritually beneficial social and cultural changes.