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NCRR Awards $4M for Shared HTP Sequencers

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The National Center for Research Resources awarded almost $3.9 million in funding for nine high-throughput DNA sequencers under its Shared Instrumentation Program in fiscal 2009. The awards were made earlier this year, most of them with a start date of April or May.

The number of high-throughput DNA sequencers granted this year under the program, which provides NIH-funded researchers shared equipment in the $100,000 to $500,000 price range, is three times higher than last year and reflects the growing penetration of next-generation sequencing into universities and research institutions other than large genome centers.

Some sequencing instrumentation vendors confirm this trend. Illumina, for example, says it continues to see "broad adoption" of its Genome Analyzer, and that more than 80 percent of the systems it shipped during the second quarter of this year went to customers outside of large genome centers, compared with two-thirds during the same period a year ago.

No awards for DNA sequencers were made under NCRR's High-End Instrumentation program this year, which provides research equipment that costs between $750,000 and $2 million.

The majority of this year's grantees requested Illumina Genome Analyzers: According to the grant abstracts, which the researchers submitted with their applications in early 2008, seven of the grantees, or almost 80 percent, asked for this instrument platform, while two did not specify a type of sequencer.

However, this does not necessarily mean that those seven grantees will indeed purchase a Genome Analyzer. Researchers can request to buy a different type or version of sequencer with their award that might not have been commercially available at the time they wrote their application. For example, they might decide to acquire an Applied Biosystems SOLiD instead of a Genome Analyzer.

In total, the program made 159 awards in fiscal 2009, of which 68 used funding provided under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009.

— Julia Karow

Sequencing Notes

Scientists at the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology used primer extension capture to sequence and compare the mitochondrial genomes of five Neandertals from across Europe. The targeted resequencing was led by Svante Pääbo.

Sequencers are still coveted instruments: Illumina reported that the Genomic Medicine Institute at Seoul National University College of Medicine bought seven Genome Analyzers, while Applied Biosystems said that the University of Queensland would be adding nine SOLiD systems to its Institute for Molecular Bioscience.

Roche donated a 454 Life Sciences sequencer to scientists in Nairobi, Kenya, who are part of a partnership with Google's non-profit arm to study insect-borne pathogens.

Datapoint

5.5%
Year-over-year increase Life Technologies reported in second-quarter revenues for its Genetic Systems division

Funded Grants

$392,693/FY 2009
A High-Quality Genome Assembly for Xenopus Tropicalis
Grantee: Richard Harland, University of California, Berkeley
Began: Jan. 1, 2009; Ends: Dec. 31, 2012
Harland will build on previous Xenopus draft genomes to come up with a high-quality assembly based on high-throughput DNA sequencing. "[This] will provide a comprehensive catalog of gene content and proteome, authoritative data on conservation of chromosome structure with other vertebrates," the abstract says.

$312,000/FY 2009
Fine-Scale Recombination, Variation, Divergence, and Codon Bias in Drosophila
Grantee: Mohamed Noor, Duke University
Began: Apr. 6, 2009; Ends: Mar. 31, 2013
Noor and colleagues will follow up on preliminary studies to "construct very high resolution linkage maps using the species Drosophila pseudoobscura, and correlate local recombination rates to various sequence motifs," the abstract says. They will also "generate multiple whole-genome sequence assemblies of this species from which to carefully examine patterns of nucleotide diversity."

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