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Celera s Publication Site Draws 3,000 Registered Users in First Five Days

NEW YORK, Feb 16 - Celera said Friday that 3,000 unique users had logged onto Celera's Consensus Human Genome website in the first five days since it was made available.

The site requires users to register and to sign a lengthy agreement to access the site only if they qualify as “academic users” and are using the site for non-commercial purposes. Users can download a maximum of one megabase of sequence information per week.

Users who want to download more data have to contact Celera and the researcher and an authorized representative of the researcher's institution must sign a formal agreement stating that the downloaded data will be used for research purposes and will not be distributed. Any researcher who does not qualify as an academic user must also contact Celera to obtain proper terms and conditions for access to the Celera Data.

While all a person who qualified has to do to get to the data is fill out a quick online form and click “I accept” button to search the data, the limits of these registration terms has kept some researchers away.

“I have been reading the Celera announcement [and] on the surface it looks OK,” Petri Auvinen, a genomics researcher at the University of Helsinki Institute of Biotechnology in Finland, said in an e-mail sent to GenomeWeb. “There is however one line that hits us all: Individual researchers have kind of free access to the data but one cannot download more than 1 [megabase] week. With this speed it will take little less than 60 years (without vacations that we tend to spend here in Europe). This is, of course slow for persons who would like to freely use the whole genome.”

Still, other researchers acknowledge that anyone who is doing gene-by-gene analysis might find Celera’s data very useful. 

“If you’re mostly looking at things a gene at a time it probably makes sense to look at Celera’s data too,” said James Kent of University of California Santa Cruz, who developed the public project’s Golden Path whole genome browser. ”I’m sure that they must have some things we do not."

He noted that the public project is now refining its maps and assembly algorithms as data continues to flow into the databases and the mouse sequence approaches completion.

Earlier in the week, the Mouse Sequencing Consortium announced it had sequenced 66 percent of the mouse and would begin a draft assembly in April.Celera already has an assembled mouse genome in its database that allows comparison across genomes, but this is not accessible through Celera's publication site. 

To make mouse-human genome comparisons publicly and freely available when the Mouse Consortium's sequence is completed, the public project is currently ramping up the compute farm for golden path from 100 to 1000 CPUs so its programs can do comparative analysis between mouse and human, Kent said. 

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