2004 Release: NHGRI Seeks Next Generation of Sequencing Technologies

National Human Genome Research Institute

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

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NHGRI Seeks Next Generation of Sequencing Technologies

New Grants Support Development of Faster, Cheaper DNA Sequencing

ATCG Image BETHESDA, Md., Thurs., Oct. 14, 2004 - The National Human Genome Research Institute (NHGRI), part of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), today announced it has awarded more than $38 million in grants to spur the development of innovative technologies designed to dramatically reduce the cost of DNA sequencing, a move aimed at broadening the applications of genomic information in medical research and health care.

NHGRI's near-term goal is to lower the cost of sequencing a mammalian-sized genome to $100,000, which would enable researchers to sequence the genomes of hundreds or even thousands of people as part of studies to identify genes that contribute to cancer, diabetes and other common diseases. Ultimately, NHGRI's vision is to cut the cost of whole-genome sequencing to $1,000 or less, which would enable the sequencing of individual genomes as part of medical care. The ability to sequence each person's genome cost-effectively could give rise to more individualized strategies for diagnosing, treating and preventing disease. Such information could enable doctors to tailor therapies to each person's unique genetic profile.

DNA sequencing costs have fallen more than 100-fold over the past decade, fueled in large part by tools, technologies and process improvements developed as part of the successful effort to sequence the human genome. However, it still costs at least $10 million to sequence 3 billion base pairs - the amount of DNA found in the genomes of humans and other mammals.

"These grants will open the door to the next generation of sequencing technologies. There are still many opportunities to reduce the cost and increase the throughput of DNA sequencing, as well as to develop smaller, faster sequencing technologies that meet a wider range of needs," said NHGRI Director Francis S. Collins, M.D., Ph.D. "Dramatic reductions in sequencing costs will lead to very different approaches to biomedical research and, eventually, will revolutionize the practice of medicine."

In the first set of grants, 11 teams will work to develop "near term" technologies that, within five years, are expected to provide the power to sequence a mammalian-sized genome for about $100,000. In the second set, seven groups will take on the longer-term challenge of developing revolutionary technologies to realize the vision of sequencing a human genome for $1,000 or less. The approaches pursued by both sets of grants have many complementary elements that integrate biochemistry, chemistry and physics with engineering to enhance the whole effort to develop the next generation of DNA sequencing and analysis technologies.

"These projects span an impressive spectrum of novel technologies - from sequencing by synthesis to nanopore technology. Many of these new approaches have shown significant promise, yet far more exploration and development are needed if these sequencing technologies are to be useful to the average researcher or physician," said Jeffery Schloss, Ph.D., NHGRI's program director for technology development. "We look forward to seeing which of these technologies fulfill their promise and achieve the quantum leaps that are needed to take DNA sequencing to the next level."

"$100,000" Genome Grants

NHGRI's "Near-Term Development for Genome Sequencing" grants will support research aimed at sequencing a human-sized genome at 100 times lower cost than is possible today. There is strong potential that, five years from now, some of these technologies will be at or near commercial availability. Grant recipients and their approximate total funding are:

"$1,000 Genome" Grants

NHGRI's "Revolutionary Genome Sequencing Technologies" grants have as their goal the development of breakthrough technologies that will enable a human-sized genome to be sequenced for $1,000 or less. Grant recipients and their approximate total funding are:

"Each of these projects brings a unique combination of approach and expertise to solving difficult scientific and engineering problems. Collectively, this balanced grant portfolio should galvanize the sequencing technology research community and accelerate the substantial leaps forward needed to achieve substantial reduction in DNA sequencing costs," said Mark S. Guyer, Ph.D., director of NHGRI's Division of Extramural Research, which supports grants for research and for training and career development at sites nationwide.

For more details about the NHGRI sequencing technology development grants, go to: www.genome.gov/12513162. NHGRI is one of 27 institutes and centers at NIH, an agency of the Department of Health and Human Services. Information about NHGRI can be found at: www.genome.gov.


Geoff Spencer
(301) 402-0911

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Last Reviewed: March 11, 2010