Background on the Sequencing Centers

National Human Genome Research Institute

National Institutes of Health
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services


Background on the Sequencing Centers

December 2002

In all, a dozen genome sequencing centers in the United States and Great Britain contributed data for the mouse genome sequence reported today. Below are brief descriptions of the major centers, which together contributed about 90 percent of the sequence, along with a listing of the nine other laboratories that contributed valuable data toward the high-quality draft of the mouse genome sequence.

The sequencing centers were joined in the analysis effort by scientists from 27 different institutions in six countries. Pulled together by the Human Genome Project (HGP) and chaired by Robert Waterston, this Mouse Genome Analysis Group served as a "virtual genome analysis center." Members pored over the mouse and human sequence data for six months, and over weekly conference calls and virtual meetings over the Web, analyzed and interpreted the results that were eventually reported in the a Nature paper.

The Whitehead Institute/MIT Center for Genome Research [genome.wi.mit.edu], Cambridge, Mass. (50 percent)

The Whitehead Institute/MIT Center for Genome Research has served as one of the flagships of the Human Genome Project, the international effort to identify the blueprint for a human being. Founded in 1990, the center grew to become one of the largest genome centers in the world and an international leader in the field of genomics, the study of all of the genes in an organism and how they function together in health and disease. Today, the center houses a broad range of thriving research programs combining structural genomics, medical and population genetics, and clinical medicine. The center employs 350 people, including scientists and medical researchers from Whitehead, MIT and Harvard. Directed by Dr. Eric Lander, the center is responsible for creating many of the key tools of modern mammalian genomics. In addition, the center has led the way in developing and applying genomic tools to biomedicine in part by engaging talented young scientists from the medical community to work on disease-specific projects. These physician-scientists have led the way in developing tools for dissecting complex genetic diseases and in developing global, genomic views of cancer diagnosis and treatment. The center has also joined others in leading the way in stimulating discussions about the social, ethical and legal implications of the new genomic technologies.

Genome Sequencing Center [genome.wustl.edu], Washington University School of Medicine, St. Louis (30 percent)

The Genome Sequencing Center (GSC) specializes in large-scale generation and analysis of DNA sequence. Founded in 1993, the GSC is one of the top sequencing centers in the United States. The center played a leadership role in the International Human Genome Project, and it has played a leading role in producing the mouse genome sequence map. In addition to producing a significant amount of the raw sequence data, the GSC helped evaluate the computer programs that assembled the mouse sequence data and provided the initial physical map, or Bacterial Artificial Chromosome (BAC)-based physical map, the map to which the sequence data was applied. Other GSC accomplishments include developing the first major public cDNA sequence database; assisting in sequencing the first eukaryote genome, the yeast S. cerevisiae; sequencing the first animal genome, the roundworm C. elegans in collaboration with the Sanger Centre; and helping to sequence the first plant genome, A. thaliana. In addition to its ongoing efforts to complete the human and mouse genomes to the highest standards, the GSC has begun sequencing the chimpanzee and chicken genomes and is working to discover relationships between genes and human disease to help physicians prevent, diagnose and treat disease.

The Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute [sanger.ac.uk], Cambridge, England (15 percent)

The Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute was founded in 1992 as the focus for the U.K. sequencing effort of the human and mouse genomes. The institute is responsible for the completion of the sequence of approximately one-third of the human genome and one-fifth of the mouse, the institute is also a major contributor to the mapping and sequencing of the zebra fish genome and genomes of a range of pathogens. The Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute is based in Hinxton, Cambridge, U.K.

Other Sequencing Centers

* Editor's Note: In 2004, Genome Therapeutics Corp. changed its name to Oscient Pharmaceuticals, following its merger with Genesoft Pharmaceuticals according to this April 13, 2004 news release.

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Last Reviewed: May 23, 2012