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UNIST Kicks Off Effort to Sequence 10,000 Korean Genomes

NEW YORK (GenomeWeb) – Ulsan National Institute of Science and Technology (UNIST) announced last week the launch of a project to sequence the genomes of 10,000 Korean individuals by 2019.

According to UNIST, the project — dubbed Genome Korea in Ulsan — aims to obtain sequencing data from both healthy and immunocompromised people, and use it to map the genetic diversity of the Korean people, create standardized gene-variation databases, detect rare genetic mutations, and provide well-annotated genome data for Korea's growing genomics industry.

"Korea's aging population is growing at a rapid pace," UNIST's Jong Bhak, who is leading the genome project, said in a statement.

Lowering the cost of healthcare and preventing infectious disease outbreaks therefore requires analysis of genomic data and related information, Bhak said. The newly announced genome project "can function as the seed of future biomedical revolution in business and society," he added.

Genome Korea in Ulsan collaborators include Ulsan Metropolitan City, the University of Ulsan, and the University of Ulsan Hospital. Also contributing to the effort is Harvard Medical School's Personal Genome Project, UNIST said. 

The publicly funded project will receive $1.5 million in initial funding in 2016, and expects to seek an additional $23 million from the private and public sectors in later years.