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Survey Says: Chimp Top Choice

NEW YORK, March 8-First man, then mouse-those decisions probably weren't hard to make. But which among the 2 million animal species known to science should come up next on the genome sequencer's list? The angleworm? The seahorse? The three toed sloth?


Anxious genomicists can rest assured that there is a government committee now grappling with the issue. Last fall, the National Human Genome Research Institute issued an open call for species nominations in order to decide which genome should next get the backing of federal resources and public money.


A National Advisory Council for Human Genome Research subcommittee will sift through the suggestions and select the animal or animals coming up next.


More impatient types, though, can look to the results of a survey now being conducted by the Science Advisory Board, a membership website for researchers and clinicians. Their poll of life sciences professionals revealed a clear frontrunner among the beasts: the chimpanzee.


Of 394 survey responses so far, 69 percent chose the chimp. The cow  was picked by 16 percent, and the honeybee by 15 percent.


These results may mystify genome scientists, who might have expected more lab-friendly creatures like fungi, rabbits, or rhesus macaques to make the cut. "We can't have that many choices in an instant poll," explained Tamara Zemlo, scientific and medical communications director for the Science Advisory Board.  "We picked the ones we thought were most important in terms of human health or economic impact."

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