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Genomics Collaborative Advises Singapore Gov t in New DNA, Tissue Bank

NEW YORK, Dec. 3 - Genomics Collaborative has parlayed its strong relationship with the Singapore government into a chance to help it create a nationwide DNA and tissue-sample repository.


Over the next three years, Genomics Collaborative will advise officials at the nascent Singapore Tissue Network how to recruit staff and physicians, and how to collect, track, process, store, and retrieve tissue samples, a company spokeswoman told GenomeWeb today.


Genomics Collaborative will also advise government officials how to collect data and generate a database, and offer pointers on software-systems management, integration, and operation, said the spokeswoman, Sara Moorin. The government will also use Genomics Collaborative's own software, she explained.


The infrastructure for the nonprofit databank, which will be funded by a three-year, S$8.7 million grant from the Singapore government, will be "fully developed" within six months, Moorin said in an e-mail message. She would not disclose how much Genomic Collaborative stands to gain financially from its involvement, which was formally enacted in July.


The move to recruit Genomic Collaborative is the latest manifestation in a relationship begun more than three years ago when company CEO and President Mike Pellini met a few members of the Singapore government. It turned out the government wanted to launch a national tissue databank and liked the way Genomics Collaborative ran its Global Repository, according to Pellini.


Soon, the Economic Development Board of Singapore became an investor in Genomics Collaborative, participating in its two of its most recent financing rounds. Then, a little more than a year after the Genome Institute of Singapore was established in 2001, the Singapore Tissue Network was born.


Today, the tissue bank holds samples from 150 individuals--50 each from Singapore's Chinese, Malay, and Indian ethnic groups--which are housed in the National University of Singapore, according to The Straits Times' online edition today. It will move to its permanent headquarters in the Biopolis, in Buona Vista, when that complex is ready in one or two years.


The repository itself, overseen by Theresa Chow, is linked to a phenotypic database from the country's National Disease Registry Office and will initially be used to study certain cancers, Moorin said. Physicians from the National University Hospital and the National Cancer Centre will provide samples beginning next year, the paper said.


Ultimately, researchers who want to use the data will have to apply with the government and pay a "small fee," according to the paper. Hospitals and researchers who participate in it can get the data free, Edison Liu, executive director of the Genome Institute of Singapore, said in a press conference there yesterday.

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