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In Contest, Roche Will Award 1 Gigabase of Free Sequencing on GS20 Successor

NEW YORK (GenomeWeb News) — Roche Applied Science will provide one gigabase worth of free sequencing on the upcoming successor to 454 Life Sciences’ GS 20 early next year to a scientist or research team chosen by a panel of outside experts, the company said last week.
The company plans to release the new instrument, called the GenomeSequencer FLX, next spring, GenomeWeb News has learned.
The sequencing, to be performed at 454 Life Sciences’ facility in Branford, Conn., will be worth “a substantial amount of money,” according to Tim Harkins, marketing manager for genome sequencing at Roche Applied Science.
Harkins declined to provide a specific number, but according to estimates by several sequencing experts the prize could be worth anywhere between $100,000 and $400,000.
Roche said it will announce the winner of its “One Giga-Base Grant program” in January and provide the sequencing service on the new instrument. Additional information can found here.
Around that time, Harkins said, “most existing installs [of the GS 20] will be upgraded to the new instrument.” Roche plans to make the instrument available to new customers early next spring, he added.
The data will be generated in up to 10 runs, each of which can handle up to 16 samples. The new instrument will provide read lengths of more than 200 bases and will produce “several factors more data than the current 20-plus mega bases” the GS 20 generates per run, according to Harkins. However, some customers have already been getting 150-base reads on a routine basis on the GS 20. Winning scientists will be responsible for designing the experiment, submitting the samples, and analyzing and interpreting the results.
Once the researchers have sent their samples, the turnaround time will be a matter of a week or two, according to Harkins. The new instrument’s run time will likely be one or two hours more than the 5-hour run of the GS 20, he said.
The purpose of the grant is to enable “a worthwhile project,” according to the program instructions. Researchers in academia or industry based in the US or Canada can submit one 1,000-word proposal “outlining the significance and goals” of their sequencing project.
The project may involve whole-genome sequencing, paired-end resequencing, PCR amplicon resequencing, small RNA analysis, transcriptome analysis, or metagenomics.
Researchers have to indicate on the application form whether they have access to “supporting technology,” specifically an ABI 3100, 3130, 3730, 3730XL, or a GS20. The deadline for submissions is Dec. 8.
A team of experts, currently comprising a large genome center, an expert in transcriptome analysis, and an expert in metagenomics, will evaluate the proposals and score them “on the merits of the science,” according to Harkins.

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