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Number Boost

The Mind the Gap initiative plans to sequence individuals of South Asian descent to boost their numbers in scientific research, NBC News reports.

Lakshmi Maithel, the Mind the Gap program director at GenomeAsia 100K, tells NBC News that South Asians make up about a quarter of the global population, but only 1 percent of genetic data. That underrepresentation, she says, could mean that South Asian won't benefit as much from genetic research and that questions of why South Asians are prone to certain disease could go unexplored.

To address that, her program aims to sequence 100 individuals from Sri Lanka, India, Nepal, Pakistan, and Bangladesh. The broader GenomeAsia 100K, meanwhile, plans to sequence 100,000 individuals from 28 countries and make that data available to academic and commercial researchers, NBC News adds.

"With Map the Gap, we think there are South Asians in India and the rest of South Asia and abroad who want to support this research and realize the importance of the data — not only for people with rare diseases but for the improved care of all South Asians dealing with chronic conditions and other conditions as we age," Maithel tells NBC News.