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BGI, University of Copenhagen Sign Accord for Genetic Research Cooperation

By a GenomeWeb staff reporter

NEW YORK (GenomeWeb News) — BGI and the University of Copenhagen have pledged to cooperate in future research about the role of genes in cancer, obesity, and type 2 diabetes, under an agreement signed Friday.

The agreement will lead to additional educational opportunities for Danish and Chinese students — including "brief and extended" stays by Chinese students at the university, and by Danish students in genetic research facilities in Beijing and BGI's headquarters in Shenzhen, BGI and the university said in a joint statement.

"We look forward to many years of research cooperation between BGI and the University of Copenhagen, concentrating on generating new and ground-breaking knowledge about hereditary diseases in animals and humans," BGI Founder and President Jian Wang said in the statement.

The agreement formalizes a cooperative partnership that has been in place for several years. During that time, the university and BGI have collaborated on such projects as the sequencing of an ancient human, published in Nature in February, and the sequencing of gut bacteria from 124 individuals as part of the Metagenomics of the Human Intestinal Tract, or MetaHIT, project.

BGI joined last year with the University of Copehnagen — as well as Aarhus University, Southern Denmark University and other research institutions — to open at BGI Shenzhen the Sino-Danish Breast Cancer Research Centre, supported by the Danish National Research Foundation. The U of Copenhagen already has a collaboration agreement with BGI on PhD education, and students from the university are working at BGI Shenzhen.

Last May, officials from China and Denmark signed an agreement creating a $10 million European headquarters for BGI in Copenhagen, where it plans to eventually hire up to 150 scientists and support employees.

At present, BGI — founded in 1999 as the Beijing Genomics Institute — and the university are working closely on the sequencing of the porcine genome, Dean Per Holten-Andersen of the university's faculty of Life Sciences said in the statement.

The agreement was signed at Expo 2010 Shanghai, where companies, research institutions, and universities from China and Denmark were among participants.