WALNUT CREEK, Calif.--When the Joint Genome Institute opens its new production sequencing facility here this month, the 12-person bioinformatics staff will be working with the best tools from the combined US Department of Energy national laboratories--Lawrence Berkeley, Lawrence Livermore, and Los Alamos. The institute became the world's third most productive contributor to the Human Genome Project when the labs joined forces in 1997. Each contributes to bioinformatics performance, according to Chris Martin, the interim manager for the new sequencing facility. Martin said the labs already used many of the same bioinformatics software tools. But where there were differences, the group compared and chose the most efficient one, Martin added.
Some 100 employees will work three shifts at the new facility to keep the sequencing project running around the clock. Elbert Branscomb, the Joint Genome Institute's director, attributed the rigorous production schedule to the new facility's pricetag. "It's just too valuable not to use efficiently," he said. Branscomb added that he hoped the thrill of working on such an important project will keep workers alert through the night. "It is still seen as an important thing to do," he said. "It's a marvelous one-time scientific challenge."