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To Make a Genome

The researchers of the Genome Project-Write are meeting again to get their synthetic biology effort underway, though ScienceInsider points out that it is lacking in funds.

News of the project, which aims to synthesize human genomes from scratch, trickled out a year ago. Stanford University's Drew Endy and Laurie Zoloth drew attention to the invitation-only project meeting when they criticized it in an essay. "Pluralistic, public, and deliberative discussions are instead the best appropriate way to frame paths forward," they wrote at Cosmos.

The project organizers, which include Harvard Medical School's George Church, New York University Langone Medical Center's Jef Boeke, and Andrew Hessel from the software company Autodesk, said that they wanted the meeting to be private so that researchers could speak freely. They soon thereafter outlined their plan for the project in Science.

At the new meeting, which is to take place today, ScienceInsider says the organizers hope to highlight the seriousness of their project as well as note that the pilot projects contribute to the field even if the target of synthesizing human genomes isn't actually sought or reached.

However, GP-W hasn't raised the $100 million in funds that it had hoped to get in 2016, ScienceInsider says. It adds that Autodesk contributed $250,000 to the effort last year and reports that Labcyte has made a three-year financial commitment. Instead, researchers wanting to take part in the project have turned to funds from elsewhere to fuel their efforts, it says.

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