2006 Release: NHGRI Aims to Make DNA Sequencing Faster, More Cost Effective

National Human Genome Research Institute

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

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NHGRI Aims to Make DNA Sequencing Faster, More Cost Effective

New Grants Support Sequencing Technologies Development

Sequencing Data ImageBETHESDA, Md., Wed., Oct., 4, 2006 — The National Human Genome Research Institute (NHGRI), part of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), today announced the latest round of grant awards totaling more than $13 million to speed the development of innovative sequencing technologies that reduce the cost of DNA sequencing and expand the use of genomics in medical research and health care.

"There has been significant progress over the last several years to develop faster and more cost-effective sequencing technologies and, we are committed to supporting these innovative efforts to benefit scientific labs and medical clinics," said NHGRI Director Francis S. Collins, M.D., Ph.D. "These technologies will eventually revolutionize the way that biomedical research and the practice of medicine are done."

Since 1990, NHGRI has invested approximately $380 million to develop and improve DNA sequencing technologies. DNA sequencing costs have fallen more than 50-fold over the past decade, fueled in large part by tools, technologies and process improvements developed as part of the successful project to sequence the human genome. However, it still costs around $10 million to sequence 3 billion base pairs - the amount of DNA found in the genomes of humans and other mammals.

NHGRI's near-term goal is to lower the cost of sequencing a mammalian-sized genome to $100,000, allowing researchers to sequence the genomes of hundreds or even thousands of people participating in studies to identify genes that contribute to common, complex diseases. Ultimately, NHGRI's vision is to cut the cost of whole-genome sequencing to $1,000 or less, which will enable the sequencing of an individual's genome during routine medical care. The ability to sequence an individual genome cost-effectively could enable health care professionals to tailor diagnosis, treatment and prevention to each person's unique genetic profile.

The new grants will fund nine investigators developing revolutionary technologies that may make it feasible to sequence a genome for $1,000, as well as two investigators developing "near term" technologies to sequence a genome for $100,000. Both approaches 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. Since 2004, NHGRI has awarded $83 million to investigators to develop both "near term" and revolutionary sequencing technologies.

"It is very important that we encourage and support the development of innovative sequencing technologies. Many of these new approaches have shown significant promise, yet far more exploration and development are needed if they 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."

"$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:

"$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, in less than five years, several of these technologies will be at or near commercial availability. Grant recipients in the current cycle and their approximate total funding are:

For more details about the NHGRI sequencing technology development grants, go to Genome Technology Program. NHGRI also just announced the next round of funding under the genome sequencing technology program. The deadline for applying is Nov. 24, 2006.

NHGRI is one of the 27 institutes and centers at NIH. The NHGRI Division of Extramural Research supports grants for research and training and career development at sites nationwide. Additional information about NHGRI can be found at www.genome.gov.

The National Institutes of Health - "The Nation's Medical Research Agency" - includes 27 institutes and centers, and is a component of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. It is the primary federal agency for conducting and supporting basic, clinical and translational medical research, and it investigates the causes, treatments, and cures for both common and rare diseases. For more, visit www.nih.gov.

EDITOR'S NOTE: NHGRI Director Francis Collins will participate in a press conference to announce a $10 million prize offered by the X Prize Foundation for the creation of rapid genome sequencing technology. The prize is designed to stimulate competition to speed up the use of genome sequencing in research and medicine. The press conference will be held at 10 a.m. Wednesday, Oct. 4, 2006, in the 13th floor ballroom of the National Press Club, 529 14th Street NW, Washington, D.C.


Geoff Spencer

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Last Reviewed: July 24, 2012