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UWM to Build Freshwater Genomics Lab on Lake Michigan

NEW YORK (GenomeWeb News) – The University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee plans to build a center near the shores of Lake Michigan that will conduct a range of research projects using genomic sequencing and bioinformatics to focus on life forms in the lake, ecology, and water-related human health concerns.

The Great Lakes Genomics Center is funded with nearly $3.3 million from UWM and from the State of Wisconsin, and a $500,000 grant from the Fund for Lake Michigan. It will have an initial operating budget of around $1 million, Rebecca Klaper, an associate professor at UWM's School of Freshwater Sciences, told GenomeWeb Daily News on Tuesday.

The genomics center will be housed in a new addition to the Great Lakes Wisconsin Aquatic Technology and Environmental Research Institute that will provide a total of 100,000 square feet of new space for an array of research into aquatic ecology and aquaculture. Researchers at the center will work on projects involving water quality, pollutants, pathogens, water treatment, invasive species, public health, and genetic engineering, among other areas.

Around $2 million of the center's funding will go toward setting up a sequencing lab and buying sequencing technologies, and roughly $500,000 will be spent on technologies and staff for a bioinformatics core, Klaper told GWDN.

Next-generation sequencing will enable water and aquaculture researchers to use metagenomics approaches to manage ecosystems by measuring biodiversity, monitoring water quality, and measuring the impacts of pollution, climate change, and other stressors, according to a document detailing the project.

Klaper, who will be a key faculty member at the center, said that her research focuses on "using genomic data to determine the potential impact of emerging contaminants, such as nanomaterials and pharmaceuticals on aquatic organisms," and "using genomics to link the impacts of these contaminants among aquatic organisms and humans."

She said the center is currently reviewing which sequencing platform it will use to anchor the genomics lab.

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