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National Academies Report Calls for Polar Genomic Science Initiative

NEW YORK, Feb. 10 - An upcoming report from the National Academies' Polar Research Board argues for the National Science Foundation to create a "Polar Genomic Science Initiative" to apply genomic technology to the study of Arctic and Antarctic organisms.


The report, sponsored by the Office of Polar Programs and the Directorate for Biological Sciences at the National Science Foundation, contends that the application of genomic methods, in combination with other existing technologies, could help explain how life in polar regions adapts to extreme cold. The research could provide a unique opportunity to study evolution, biomedical applications, and the effects of global change, according to the authors of the report.


Among a number of recommendations, the report calls for the creation of a "virtual genome science center" to provide a technology infrastructure for individual polar researchers without access to such resources, as well as a mechanism to facilitate technology transfer among participating scientists.


William Detrich of Northeastern University chairs the NSF Committee on Frontiers in Polar Biology. Other committee members include Jody Deming of the University of Washington; Claire Fraser of the Institute for Genomic Research; James Hollibaugh of the University of Georgia; William Mohn of the University of British Columbia; John Priscu of Montana State University; George Somero of Stanford University; Michael Thomashow of Michigan State University; Diana Wall of Colorado State University; and study director Evonne Tang of the NSF Polar Research Board/Board on Life Sciences.


A pre-publication version of the report, called "Frontiers in Polar Biology in the Genomics Era," is available here.

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