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HGP, Celera to Meet June 6 to Compare Sequencing Methods

BETHESDA, Md., May 21 – Representatives of the publicly funded Human Genome Project and Celera Genomics will hold a long-awaited workshop next month to compare their assembly strategies, Francis Collins, director of the National Human Genome Research Institute,   said Monday. 

The meeting is set for June 6 at the headquarters of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute in Chevy Chase, Maryland, said Collins, who was speaking at a meeting of the National Advisory Council for Human Genome Research.

Since the simultaneous publication in February of draft human genome sequences by the publicly-funded Human Genome Project and Celera Genomics, researchers have been talking about the possibility of holding a meeting to compare the sequencing methods of the two projects head-to-head. Although each has adopted elements of the other’s methods, Celera is known for its whole-genome shotgun approach, while the Human Genome Project has favored a map-based technique.

The public-private workshop was first planned for April, but postponed when neither group felt it was ready. The June meeting will focus on annotation needs, sequencing and assembly methods for eukaryotic genomes, and procedures for ensuring fruitful collaborations when projects are split between institutions. 

Discussion will be general in nature, according to a source at NIH, rather than the head-to-head comparison of HGP and Celera sequencing methods originally envisioned. Neither is the workshop expected to tackle issues such as recent concerns raised by Stanford researchers about the accuracy of Celera's Drosophila  sequence.

“Negotiations have been delicate, as you might imagine,” the source said.

Celera representatives were not immediately available for comment.

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