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America Competes Act Could Include 'Omics

By a GenomeWeb staff reporter

NEW YORK (GenomeWeb News) – In its early drafting of the reauthorization of the America Competes Act, the 2007 bi-partisan compromise law that supported basic science and math and science education, a House of Representatives energy-focused sub-committee has included genomics resource programs and research plans involving synthetic and systems biology and basic biology.

By adding several of the Department of Energy's science priorities to the bill, which is still being drafted, the House Committee on Science and Technology's Energy and Environment Subcommittee has included support for genomic sequencing technologies, and basic and computational biology efforts.

By rolling the Department of Energy Office of Science Authorization Act of 2010 into its draft of the America Competes bill, the committee has added plans to start a genomic sequencing user facility for climate change research, plans for using synthetic biology in energy research, a mandate for developing bioenergy research centers, and plans to develop systems biology in biomass research.

"This legislation aims to support our energy independence, bolster our competitiveness, and grow our export markets," Committee Chairman Bart Gordon (D-Tenn.) said in a recent statement.

One part of the energy program would support the creation of user facilities for genome sequencing in climate change research. Under that program, the director of DOE would carry out a program to construct, operate, and maintain facilities for genome sequencing and analysis of plants, microbes, and microbial communities using high-throughput sequencing and molecular analyses. The centers also would include molecular research into natural and engineered materials, as well as technologies used to measure atmospheric processes.

The synthetic biology plan will assess the need to create a database for synthetic biology information; the need for developing standards for biological parts, components, and systems; and the need for a federally funded facility for discovering and producing synthetic biology parts, components, and systems.

This markup is the first of three subcommittee markups for the 2010 act, which also will include markups by the Research and Science Subcommittee, and the Technology and Innovation Subcommittee. That process is expected to be completed before Memorial Day, according to the Committee on Science and Technology Policy.

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