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NHGRI to Provide $90M to Renew Large-Scale Sequencing Centers

By a GenomeWeb staff reporter

NEW YORK (GenomeWeb News) –The National Human Genome Research Institute will use at least $90 million next year to extend and expand its Genome Sequencing and Analysis Centers program by funding up to three centers with up to $45 million per year.

NHGRI aims to fund state of the art large-scale genomic sequencing center efforts with respect to cost, throughput, and quality. The centers will continue to emphasize the role that DNA-based changes contribute to biological systems while supporting new project types that will "address the most compelling new questions," NHGRI said in a request for applications Friday.

Over the past five years the program has sequenced reference genomes of many organisms, continued cataloguing human variation through efforts such as the 1000 Genomes Project, discovered many genomic changes that underlie cancer, enhanced understanding of the human microbiome, and explored more creative avenues for genomics, such as RNA sequencing and studies of epigenetic modification.

NHGRI wants its large-scale program to fund flexible sequencing capacity that can be rapidly adapted to many different projects, to continue making strides in efficiency and scale, to take advantage of high-throughput sequencing power to tackle projects that are likely to be widely adopted in the future, to boost data analysis capabilities, and to lead the field of sequence-based biology in general.

Research institutes funded under the Genome Sequencing and Analysis Centers program over the next four years will build upon gains in efficiency and support new sequencing projects.

These efforts will likely center on medical sequencing and cancer sequencing, but also will involve cataloguing human variation and leading metagenomics studies of the human microbiome. They also will conduct and support organismal sequencing efforts in areas such as comparative sequencing, population genetics, eukaryotic pathogen and vector genome studies, sequencing model genomes for specific communities, and propose new areas that take advantage of high-throughput sequencing to answer basic biomedical questions.

Applicants for the program should have "a proven track record for producing high-quality genome projects"; have a potential throughput of around 8 Tb of sequence data per year; provide a production cost of $1 or less per megabase for whole-genome shotgun data; have a record of lowering costs and increasing efficiency; have the ability to assemble genomic data at all scales; be able to use multiple sequencing strategies; be able to integrate bioinformatics support; and have the capacities to analyze genomic sequence data, develop new technologies, and interact with other large-scale sequencing centers.

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