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US-China Partnership to Advance Biodiversity Research

NEW YORK (GenomeWeb News) – The China National Genebank (CNGB-Shenzhen) and the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History in the US today announced an agreement to promote biorepository and genomics research in order to advance biodiversity research.

The collaboration also encourages the exchange of experience in resource collection and sharing, infrastructure construction, and information management.

Under the terms of the deal, the partners will engage in scientific collaborations to create laboratory and data standards, data management, and training and education. CNGB-Shenzhen will provide high-throughput digitization and informatics analysis as well as manage advancing applications, the partners said.

In a statement they said that while biodiversity is "critical to human life," urbanization, global deforestation, climate change, and other factors threaten genetic diversity within species as well as diversity within entire regions and ecosystems.

Because NMNH has more than 126 million species of plants, animals, fossils, minerals, rocks, meteorites, and human cultural artifacts and supported research through their collections, it is a "natural [leader] in the support of genomic research … to preserve the genomic diversity of life on earth," the partners said.

"Together we intend to support biodiversity genome science, to advance dramatically collection-based bioinformatics, to build the virtual, global biorepository, and to train the next generation of genomic scientists," Jonathan Coddington, associate director of research and collections at NMNH, said in a statement. "We believe synoptic collections of genome quality samples will be essential science infrastructure to address pressing human needs."

CNGB-Shenzhen was created by BGI-Shenzhen to collect, preserve, and leverage genomics resources in order to foster collaborations on biodiversity conservation and genetic resource use.