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Celera s Myers Says India Should Focus on Bioinformatics

NEW DELHI, May 4 - India should focus its genomics program on a few well-chosen research areas and tap its software industry to intensify bioinformatics research, Celera's vice president of informatics Eugene Myers said Friday during a visit to the country.

"Focus resources and talent on a small number of projects," Myers advised a New Delhi audience.

Myers was in India to deliver the 37 th founder memorial lecture at the Shriram Institute for Industrial Research, a leading private sector contract research center in New Delhi. During the five-day visit Myers also met Indian scientists and policy makers involved in genomics and bioinformatics.

This visit follows last month's pledge by India's science funding agencies to invest $85 million in genomics research over the next five years. The funds may be distributed between at least 40 research teams and will go into functional genomics, pharmacogenomics, and the search for genes linked to diseases.

During the address, Myers said there is a "tremendous opportunity" for researchers in India to contribute to the unfinished task of interpreting the human genome. "Many discoveries may be made by individual investigators through the cleverness of the human mind," Myers said. 

While some investigators can focus on pathways and signaling cascades, the next immediate goal is to develop a nearly perfect annotation of the genes of the human genome, their regulatory signals, and to capture as many functions as possible, he said.

Myers said India should also try to exploit its software base to strengthen bioinformatics research. India has over 400,000 software professionals and exported $4 billion in software last year.

In presentations, Indian scientists told Myers that the country's large population, its multiple racial groups, its close clusters of families, and dozens of isolated tribes constitute a major resource in the search for disease-linked genes.

While in India, Myers also visited the Center for Cellular and Molecular Biology and the Center for DNA Fingerprinting and Diagnosis in Hyderabad, as well as the Center for Biochemical Technology in New Delhi. 

Responding to a question of whether Celera would consider collaborating with researchers in India, Myers said: "I'd say the potential exists."  
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