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DOE Allocates $250M to Create Better Biofuel Labs; Systems Bio to Play Role

NEW YORK (GenomeWeb News) - The US Department of Energy will spend $250 million over the next few years to help create two bioenergy research centers that will use systems biology and other methodologies to develop better biofuels, the agency said today.
The aim of the centers will be “to accelerate research that leads to breakthroughs in basic science to make biofuels a cost-effective alternative to fossil fuels,” DOE Secretary Samuel Bodman said in a statement.
Specifically, the DOE hopes that systems bio will help accelerate research on cellulosic ethanol and other biofuels. As GenomeWeb News reported in early July, the DOE published a roadmap identifying roadblocks and areas where scientific breakthroughs are needed in cellulosic ethanol research.
Universities, national lab, nonprofit organizations, and private firms are expected to compete for the funding, which will be used to establish and operate the centers, Under-Secretary for Science Raymond Orbach said in a conference call. 
Proposals are due Feb. 1, 2007. The DOE will provide $25 million in the first year to establish the center and provide up to $25 million per year for four years in support.
The idea for the Bioenergy Research Centers “culminates a six-year-long effort by the DOE Office of Science to lay the foundation for breakthroughs in systems biology for the cost-effective production of renewable energy,” the DOE said in a statement. 
Since 2000 the Genomics: GTL program has supporting research on microbes and microbial communities “with the objective of tapping microorganisms’ powerful and diverse capabilities to produce renewable energy, clean up the environment, and manage atmospheric carbon.”
Additional details can be found here.

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