PALM SPRINGS, Calif., Jan. 31 - The US Department of Energy, riding on the success of the Human Genome Project, is moving ahead with the equally ambitious goal of unlocking the biology of life at the systems level.
The program, called Genomes-to-Life, was in danger of dying or being delayed because of proposed DOE budget cuts talked about in March. But, at least for the time being, it is back on track, according to Ari Patrinos, director of biological and environmental research at the DOE.
The Genomes-to-Life program, which had its official kick-off at the beginning of the government's fiscal year, last October, is currently budgeted at $19.5 million for its first year.
The DOE's scientific advisers would like the program funded at $100 million to $200 million annually, according to Patrinos, who spoke at the LabAutomation conference which ended here on Wednesday. However, "achieving these levels depends on many things including the budget climate, scientific community acceptance of the program, and recognition of the value of this program to the missions of the Department of Energy," Patrinos said in an e-mail reply to a reporter's questions.
Genomes-to-Life takes up where various sequencing projects end. The program to build the DNA sequence information from microbes and higher organisms, including humans, in order to understand the mechanisms governing the biology of life, said Patrinos.
Research proposals are being solicited by the DOE. Statements showing intent to apply are asked to be delivered by Jan. 31, and formal proposals are due by April 2, according to the DOE. Submission information may be accessed at http://www.sc.doe.gov/production/grants/LAB02_13.html.