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Sanger Center Gets $430M, Five-Year Budget and a Name Change to Boot

NEW YORK, Oct. 18 - The Sanger Center of Cambridge, UK, has announced a five-year, 300 million pound ($434 million) program aimed at propelling the institute to the forefront of post-genomic research.

The center, which will receive the funding for the program from the Wellcome Trust, also said that it would now be called the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute.

The institute, which is credited with sequencing one-third of the human genome, said it would focus on applying the knowledge of the genome to advance scientific knowledge about cancer, polygenic diseases, and model organisms.

"The new funding will allow the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute to make a contribution to global science and medicine as significant as its contribution to the Human Genome Project,” Allan Bradley, director of the institute, said in a statement released earlier this week. 

“We will bring biology to the genome and translate the enormous amount of information encoded in our DNA into an understanding of gene function, providing the stimulus for real healthcare advances," he said.

Over the next five years, the institute will receive up to 36 million pounds to find and study genetic mutations that lead to common cancers, including breast, lung, colorectal, ovarian, and prostate cancer.

The Cancer Genome Project, which has so far found some 80 abnormalities linked to cancer, is expected to lead to more information about tumor suppressor genes. 

In the area of human health, the Sanger Institute is also launching a new project to identify genes on the X chromosome that give rise to a variety of disorders. The project will use techniques from the Cancer Genome Project to look for genes involved in primary or non-specific X-lined mental retardation.

The Institute will also focus on uncovering the basis of disorders that have multiple genetic contributions, including diabetes, asthma, and other allergies. This institute plans to work with other research groups to identify common SNPs in all exons of the genome and to develop a map of common haplotypes associated with each gene. By doing this, the institute said it believes it will be able to find links between particular haplotypes and diseases.

Over the next five years, the institute will also initiate a study of mouse models of disease. The institute, which is working with other international organizations to complete the mouse sequence in 2005, is responsible for decoding 20 percent of the genome.

The Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute will also continue sequencing other model organisms, including the zebrafish, yeast, and the round worm.

The institute will have a budget of 63.3 million pounds for the 2001-2002 fiscal year, one-third of which is earmarked for new projects. 

A spokesperson from the institute was not immediately available for comment.

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