This issue of Genome Research presents new results, methods, and tools from The ENCODE Project (ENCyclopedia of DNA Elements), which collectively represents an important step in moving beyond a parts list of the genome and promises to shape the future of genomic research. This collection sheds light on basic biological questions and frames the current debate over the optimization of tools and methodological challenges necessary to compare and interpret large complex data sets focused on how the genome is organized and regulated. In a number of instances, the authors have highlighted the strengths and limitations of current computational and technical approaches, providing the community with useful standards, which should stimulate development of new tools. In many ways, these papers will ripple through the scientific community, as those in pursuit of understanding the "regulatory genome" will heavily traverse the maps and tools. Similarly, the work should have a substantive impact on how genetic variation contributes to specific diseases and traits by providing a compendium of functional elements for follow-up study. The success of these papers should not only be measured by the scope of the scientific insights and tools but also by their ability to attract new talent to mine existing and future data.
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