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NHGRI Awards $15M to Drive Development of Next-Gen Sequencing Technology

NEW YORK (GenomeWeb News) - The National Human Genome Research Institute has pumped over $15 million into 12 new grants to develop methods and technologies aimed at “dramatically” reducing the cost of genomic sequencing, with a target of lowering the price of sequencing individual human genomes down to $1,000.
The grants are part of NHGRI’s ambitious pursuit of “a future in which each person’s genome can be sequenced as a routine part of medical research and health care,” the institute said in a statement.
"Innovative sequencing technologies are critical to our efforts to move advances in genomic knowledge into the clinic,” said NHGRI director Francis Collins, because the “era of personalized medicine will demand more efficient and cost-effective approaches to DNA sequencing.”
The current round of next-generation sequencing grants were awarded to eight researchers who are working on developing technology to enable the $1,000 genome, and to three scientists who will try to develop sequencing technology that will sequence the human genome for $100,000 or less.
Today, it still costs as much as $5 million to sequence the roughly three billion base pairs of DNA found in humans and other mammals.
"The different approaches will likely result in several successful and complementary technologies,” said NHGRI program director for technology development, Jeffrey Schloss. Schloss said NHGRI will “monitor carefully to see how each technology progresses and which of them can ultimately be used by the average researcher or health care provider."
NHGRI awarded its “$1,000 Genome” grants to the following recipients:
Richard Fair
Duke University
$3,686,000 (three years)
“Continuous Sequencing-by-Synthesis, Based on a Digital Microfluidic Platform”
The team will use droplet-based microfluidics in sequencing-by-synthesis studies aimed at extending read length, minimizing reaction volume and increasing throughput to 10,000 reactions in “a very small area.”
Stuart Lindsay
Arizona State University
$877,000 (three years)
“Sequencing by Recognition”
This research team seeks to develop molecular wires that are sufficiently flexible and sensitive to allow for use in ‘sequencing by recognition’ methods involving nanopores.
Xinsheng Sean Ling 
Brown University
$820,000 (three years)
“Hybridization-Assisted Nanopore DNA Sequencing”
This group will use solid-state nanopores to find where DNA sequences attach by hybridization, which through repetition may allow determination of long strands of DNA.
Wlodek Mandecki
University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey
$1,672,000 (three years)
“Ribosome-Based Single Molecule Method to Acquire Sequence Data from Genomes”
The group will modify key ribosome components to read nucleotide sequences. By “sequencing” messenger RNA, DNA sequences could be determined, the group anticipates.
Andre Marziali
University of British Columbia
$746,000 (three years)
“Nanopore Array Force Spectroscopy Chip for Rapid Clinical Genotyping”
This team will develop solid-state, nanopore-based force spectroscopy to detect sequence variation. The team previously demonstrated the ability to detect sequences “at single base resolution using organic nanopore force spectroscopy.”
John S. Oliver
$498,000 (two years)
“Hybridization-Assisted Nanopore Sequencing”
These researchers will work with a group at Brown University to develop biochemical and algorithmic components for a sequencing-by-hybridization method.
Robert Riehn
North Carolina State University
$439,000 (two years)
“Sequencing DNA by Transverse Electrical Measurements in Nanochannels”
The team aims to stretch long DNA molecules by passing them through nanofluidic channels, then to fit nanoelectrodes into those channels to detect electrical signal of DNA bases.
H. Kumar Wickramasinghe
University of California, Irvine
$2,184,000 (three years)
“High-Throughput, Low-Cost DNA Sequencing Using Probe Tip Arrays”
The group will try to use nanoscale electrophoretic separation of DNA fragments on an atomic force microscope probe tip in an effort to speed up and scale down the Sanger sequencing method. Then it will implement these “very challenging separations” on a massively parallel sequencing platform that contains hundreds of probe tips.
NHGRI awarded “$100,000 Genome" grants to the following researchers:
Jeremy Edwards
University of New Mexico School of Medicine
$900,000 (three years)
“Polony Sequencing the Human Genome”
This group’s goal is to use polony genome sequencing technology to resequence the human genome “within a week for less than $10,000” by improving sequencing data and advancing the computational tools that are used in genome assembly.
Jingyue Ju
Columbia University (two grants)
$644,000 (two years)
“3'-O-Modified Nucleotide Reversible Terminators for Pyrosequencing”
The researcher will use the funds to design a library of synthetic molecular tools intended to optimize pyrosequencing.
$2,217,000 (two years)
“An Integrated System for DNA Sequencing by Synthesis”
The group will continue to develop and optimize a set of fluorescent nucleotide reversible terminators for sequencing-by-synthesis, and it will work to develop a new method for prepping DNA beads for attachment to a substrate.
David Schwartz
University of Wisconsin, Madison
$882,000 (three years)
“Sequence Acquisition from Mapped Single DNA Molecules”
This team will develop a system for analyzing large amounts of human genome data that connects the location of sequence elements to map information, and will include information about structural variations and aberrations that could be linked to other sequencing data.

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