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Wellcome Trust Launches Ad Campaign for Public Databases

CAMBRIDGE, UK, May 8 – Britain’s Wellcome Trust has launched a print advertising campaign to promote the public human genome databases, including the UK-based Ensembl database, after a survey revealed that only half of the biomedical scientists were aware of the freely available offerings.

The Wellcome Trust, which provides the majority of the funding for Ensembl, said the campaign is designed to drum up interest in public genome data in order to help spur advances in medical research.

“After our large scale investment in the Human Genome Project, it is incumbent upon us to ensure that the public resources are fully utilised, in order to deliver the health benefits that will undoubtedly flow from the use of this information,” said Mike Dexter, director of the Wellcome Trust.

The advertising campaign, a first for the Wellcome Trust, follows a survey that revealed that only 50 percent of biomedical researchers using genome databases were familiar with the services provided by Ensembl and other freely accessible databases. Scientists in industry and academia throughout the world will be targeted through advertisements in publications such as Nature and Science.

The Trust has invested 8 million pounds ($11.4 million) to set up and run Ensembl, a software system that produces and maintains automatic annotation on eukaryotic genomes. The current release claims to cover 90 per cent of known human genes. The Trust also provided UK research on the Human Genome Project with 210 million pounds.

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