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NHGRI, University of Otago, 454 Life Sciences, Sorenson Molecular Genealogy Foundation, Gorgas Memorial Institute, Shenzhen Genomics Institute, Calvin College, Pennington Biomedical Research Center, Genetic Alliance

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NHGRI Sets Aside $20M-Plus to Fund New Sequencing Tech Development in FY08
 
The National Human Genome Research Institute has set aside more than $20 million in fiscal 2008 funding for the development of genome sequencing technologies that lower the cost of sequencing a human genome to $100,000, and eventually $1,000.
 
Applications are due Nov. 9.
 
The eight RFAs are:
 
1. The Near-Term Technology Development for Genome Sequencing R01 (RFA-HG-07-016) will commit $2 million in fiscal 2008 to fund up to four studies running over a period of up to three years and a total cost of $1.5 million per year. 
 
2. The Near-Term Technology Development for Genome Sequencing R21 (RFA-HG-07-017) will commit $1 million in fiscal 2008 for projects that may be spread over a period of three years. Total per-year funding for each request is $200,000 per year.
 
3. The Near-Term Technology Development for Genome Sequencing SBIR [R43/R44] (RFA-HG-07-018) grants will fund up to $250,000 per year for two years for Phase I studies and $1.5 million per year for three years for Phase II studies.
 
4. The Near-Term Technology Development for Genome Sequencing STTR [R41/R42] (RFA-HG-07-019) grants will fund budgets up to $250,000 per year for up to two years for Phase I studies and up to $1.5 million per year for up to three years for Phase II studies.
 
5. The Revolutionary Genome Sequencing Technologies – The $1000 Genome R01 (RFA-HG-07-020) will make between two and seven awards totaling up to $5 million in fiscal 2008. Applicants may request grants for up to five years and a budget of up to $1.5 million per year.
 
6. The Revolutionary Genome Sequencing Technologies – The $1000 Genome R21 (RFA-HG-07-021) will fund as many as seven grant awards totaling $2 million in fiscal 2008.
 
7. The Revolutionary Genome Sequencing Technologies – The $1000 Genome SBIR [R43/R44] (RFA-HG-07-022) will fund as many as seven awards totaling $2 million in fiscal 2008. Applicants may request up to $200,000 per year for up to three years.
 
8. The Revolutionary Genome Sequencing Technologies – The $1000 Genome STTR [R41/R42] (RFA-HG-07-023) will fund budgets up to $250,000 per year for up to two years for Phase I grants and as much as $1.5 million per year for up to three years.
 
Additional information about the RFAs can be found here.
 

 
NZ Researchers to Sequence, Genotype Six Sheep Breeds Using 454 Sequencer
 
The University of Otago in New Zealand has purchased a 454 Life Sciences sequencer and plans to use the instrument to sequence the sheep genome, the university said last month.
 
The instrument, a “nearly $[AU] 1 million ( 840,000) investment,” was purchased by Otago's Department of Anatomy and Structural Biology and is the first 454 sequencer in New Zealand, according to the university.
 
Initially, university researchers, in collaboration with Ovita, a biotechnology company owned by Meat & Wool New Zealand, Wool Equities, and AgResearch, plan to use the instrument to sequence and genotype sheep. The aim of the project is to “identify further the gene variants underlying meat and wool production traits,” as well as others “that cause susceptibility to disease.”
 
“With this technology, it is now going to cost about $[AU] 2 million for sheep researchers to identify the 170,000 variants we require," said John McEwan, AgResearch's animal genomics principal scientist, in a statement.
 
The scientists plan to sequence the genomes of six different breeds; the Romney, Texel, Scottish Blackface, Merino, Poll Dorset, and Awassi.
 
Scientists from AgResearch, CSIRO Livestock Industries of Australia, and Baylor College of Medicine will then assemble part of the sheep genome and identify the variants.
 
Eventually, the scientists plan to come up with a small subset of SNPs that researchers and breeders can use to identify and select animals that have superior meat production, wool quality, and fertility.
 
They plan to make the test available to breeders within two years.
 

 
Sorenson and Gorgas Memorial Institute to Collect DNA from Panamanians
 
The Sorenson Molecular Genealogy Foundation and the Gorgas Memorial Institute, a Panama-based research institute, will collect approximately 1,500 to 2,000 DNA samples and related pedigree charts from individuals in Panama, Sorenson said this week.
 
The collection will include between 100 and 200 “representative samples” from individuals in each of the country's nine provinces and three territories, including urban areas and rainforests, and from all major ethnic populations.
 
SMGF did not say how the samples will be analyzed.
 
Panama has been an important migratory corridor connecting North and South America and has been traveled by Native American populations emigrating north and south, Africans from the slave trade, Spanish conquistadores, other European explorers and settlers, and various Asian populations working on the Panama Canal and other projects.
 
Information from this project will be posted on the SMGF website.
 

 
Shenzhen Genomics Institute to Publish Genome Map of ‘Mongoloid’ People
 
An international group of scientists led by the Shenzhen Genomics Institute in China will soon publish the “first genome sequence map” of “Mongoloid” people, the online Chinese newspaper Shenzhen Daily recently reported.
 
The institute, a branch of the Beijing Genome Institute, said there are more than 2 billion people of Mongoloid ancestry in the world and that the map will be useful in identifying and tracking hereditary diseases that affect this population.
 
The article did not specify how the institute set the parameters for the “Mongoloid” status of the genome map in question, nor did it say what diseases it plans to investigate first.
 
According to the news report, the institute hopes to begin to see therapeutic benefits from the genome map within five years.
 

 
Calvin College Wins $50K Grant for Beckman CE Sequencer
 
Calvin College’s biology department has won a $49,500 educational matching grant from Beckman-Coulter to purchase a capillary electrophoresis DNA sequencer made by Beckman, the college said last week.
 
The new sequencer, a Beckman Coulter CEQ 8800 Genetic Analysis System, will replace a 10-year-old model.
 

 
PBRC Buys Franek Power Backup System for Genomics Core
 
Pennington Biomedical Research Center of Louisiana has installed a battery backup power system from Franek Technologies to protect 12 instruments in its genomics core facility, Franek said this week.
 
The equipment will protect the instruments from “frequent power outages caused by thunderstorms,” according to Franek.
 
The core facility provides DNA sequencing, DNA fragment analysis, qualitative and quantitative analysis of DNA and RNA samples, quantitative PCR, microarray spotting, hybridization, and scanning, robotics, and bioinformatics services.
 

 
Genetic Alliance Opens Consumer Center for Genetics Resources and Services
 
Genetic Alliance said earlier this month that it has opened a National Consumer Center for Genetics Resources and Services.
 
Funded by a five-year, $2.5 million grant from the US Department of Health and Human Services as well as the Health Resources and Services Administration Genetic Services Branch of the Maternal and Child Health Bureau, the center plans to “mitigate the substantial information and resource deficit for consumers of genetic services.” 
 
"Genetic Alliance has tracked the difficulties in obtaining credible information and quality services. We've built substantial systems to alleviate the burden caused by these issues,“ said Sharon Terry, president and CEO of Genetic Alliance and director of the center, in a statement.
 
The center will offer resources developed by Genetic Alliance, including Disease InfoSearch, Resource Repository, Understanding Genetics, the Interactive Guide, Strategies for Success, the customizable Family Health History Guide, WikiGenetics, and WikiAdvocacy.
 
In addition, the NCCGRS “reaches out to stakeholders across the country to determine the most pressing issues facing consumers of genetic testing, newborn screening, and other services.”

The Scan

Pfizer-BioNTech Seek Full Vaccine Approval

According to the New York Times, Pfizer and BioNTech are seeking full US Food and Drug Administration approval for their SARS-CoV-2 vaccine.

Viral Integration Study Critiqued

Science writes that a paper reporting that SARS-CoV-2 can occasionally integrate into the host genome is drawing criticism.

Giraffe Species Debate

The Scientist reports that a new analysis aiming to end the discussion of how many giraffe species there are has only continued it.

Science Papers Examine Factors Shaping SARS-CoV-2 Spread, Give Insight Into Bacterial Evolution

In Science this week: genomic analysis points to role of human behavior in SARS-CoV-2 spread, and more.