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UK Opens Norwich Genomics Center

NEW YORK (GenomeWeb News) – The United Kingdom has officially opened a new center for genomics research in Norwich that will conduct research on plants, animals, and microbes for medical, bioenergy, and livestock applications, the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council said on Friday.

The Genome Analysis Center is funded with £13.5M ($21.8 million) that was invested by BBSSRC, the The East of England Development Agency, Norfolk County Council, South Norfolk Council, Norwich City Council, and the Greater Norwich Development Partnership.

"This project goes to show that partnership is the key to success — the new centre will help to advance vital research as well as stimulate economic development and generate new jobs," UK Minister of State for Science and Innovation Paul Drayson said in a statement.

The specific projects that The Genome Analysis Center (TGAC) will tackle will be decided by an independent advisory board.

Likely research projects could include studying livestock genomes in order to better understand diseases that threaten food supplies and farmers' earnings, discovering how and why some plants have been associated with reduced incidence of certain cancers, and developing compounds to exploit that potential, and sequencing the genomes of plants such as ryegrass in order to increase yield.

TGAC also will become a national center of excellence in bioinformatics to handle the data from sequencing projects, according to the BBSRC.

The genome center, which will be a part of the Norwich Research Park, also will use its discoveries for commercial applications and will make its facilities available to UK industry.

"By concentrating on specific organisms and problems we will develop an understanding of the genetic makeup of economically important crops and livestock animals," TGAC Director Jane Rogers said.

Rogers also said that "the genomic analysis of microbes will be a major focus, not only because they infect both animals and plants, but because they are already a source of drugs for the treatment of bacterial and fungal infections and therefore they have the potential to provide new, superbug-beating antibiotics."

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