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Belgian Genomics Centers Link up in New National Network

NEW YORK (GenomeWeb News) – Seven universities and institutes in Belgium have teamed up to create a network to support the nation's genomics research endeavors, filling a need for greater sharing of technologies and expertise, one of the partners, KU Leuven, said this week.

Along with KU Leuven, the new Belgian Genomics Initiative (BeMGI) includes partners in Antwerp and Ghent, and at The Catholic University of Leuven, the University of Liege, and both the French (ULB) and Dutch-speaking (VUB) universities that share the same name in English, the Free University of Brussels.

"There is the need for streamlined technical development across the various centres in Belgium," Gert Matthijs, a professor in the Department of Human Genetics and head of the laboratory for molecular diagnosis at KU Leuven, said in a statement.

"Genome analysis requires powerful and expensive equipment, and new developments in the field happen quickly. It is important to be able to share technology, especially bioinformatics technology. Cooperation can also occur on a clinical level – via genome comparisons, for instance," Matthijs said.

He added that the BeMGI network partners will aim to develop a "national consensus" on the ethical, legal, and social questions that confront the genomics fields. Developing a consensus on a number of issues related to genetic testing and other technologies could help inform the government, which makes decisions related to these matters, such as whether to reimburse genetics tests, Matthijs explained.