At the request of the National Science Foundation, the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine will appoint an ad hoc planning committee to organize and convene a workshop on research needs to advance the field of functional genomics over the next 10–20 years. The workshop will draw on information and ideas from experts in this new field and others. They will represent, primarily, the biological sciences, with additional input from genomically relevant environmental sciences, bioinformatics, and data sciences, and other pertinent communities. Speakers and attendees will be asked to discuss goals, strategies, and technical needs to allow functional genomics to contribute to the advancement of basic knowledge and its translation into applications that would benefit society (e.g., conservation, evolutionary studies, agriculture, energy, defense, human health, and other sectors). The workshop will delineate the current state of the science, what lessons have been learned thus far, what impediments there are to further progress, and areas where additional investments could help move the field forward. Presentations and discussions may explore the following topics and questions:
- Case studies of success and failure in functional genomics research on a variety of intensively studied model organisms, such as E. coli and C. elegans. What are the results of these projects? What obstacles did the investigators encounter and could they or could they not surmount them? What tools did the investigators use that produced high-quality results and what tools did they need that were not yet developed and readily available for use?
- Whether there are universal “rules of life” behind resilience, adaptation, and other emerging properties to guide the development of key baseline and comparative questions for research across the realms of microbes, animals, and plants.
- Ideas for short- and medium-term research and knowledge goals and potential strategies, pathways, and needs to achieve these goals.
- Research strategies to examine the interplay of genetic, epigenetic, and environmental factors to determine which factors or combinations of factors may be most influential for determining phenotype.
- Key considerations for selecting experimental systems (model organisms, “non-model” organisms, in vitro versus in vivo methods, computational models, etc.) and research approaches (e.g., convergence and research networks) to leverage the full range of disciplines that could contribute to research in future studies of functional genomics.
- The advantages and limitations of available research tools and databases, the potential for using emerging tools and databases that are not yet widely available, and the need for the development and dissemination of these new tools to the research community.
- The training needs for future genotype-to-phenotype research and how to attract the best research talent into the effort.
The workshop presentations and discussions will be documented in a workshop proceedings authored by rapporteurs in accordance with National Academies guidelines.