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NCBI Says Interim Funds Will Support SRA through October; Exploring Options for Long-Term Backing

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The National Center for Biotechnology Information has reversed a decision it made earlier this year to phase out the Sequence Read Archive.

While NCBI announced in February that it planned to phase out the SRA and other database resources as a result of reduced federal research dollars (BI 02/18/2011), the center has recently determined that it has enough funds to maintain the resource in its current form until Oct. 1, 2011.

According to a statement on SRA’s website, the National Institutes of Health has committed interim funding that will be used to maintain the resource through October. In addition, NCBI said it has been "working with staff from other NIH Institutes and NIH grantees to develop an approach to continue archiving a widely used subset of next-generation sequencing data" after the Oct. 1 cutoff.

"After studying the costs of various kinds of submissions, we determined that we could handle some of the most widely used datasets within our budgets," Lipman told BioInform via e-mail this week.

In February, Lipman told BioInform that there was funding available to run the SRA for "a number of projects," such as the Cancer Genome Atlas, "for at least eight months and maybe 12 months." During that time, he said, "we will be making arrangements with staff at the other institutes as to what happens for longer-term access to it."

The organization now believes it has enough funding to continue handling sequencing data associated with RNA-sequencing, ChIP-sequencing, and epigenomic studies that are submitted to Gene Expression Ominibus; genomic and transcriptomic assemblies that are submitted to GenBank; genomic assemblies to GenBank/WGS; and 16S ribosomal RNA data associated with metagenomics that are submitted to GenBank.

NCBI is currently exploring approaches to continue archiving the data beyond October as well as for handling other next-generation sequencing data associated with specific large-scale studies.

It also plans to continue to provide access to existing SRA and Trace Archive data.

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