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Bethesda, Md., Mon., Sept. 13, 2010 - More than $18 million in grants to spur the development of a third generation of DNA sequencing technologies was announced today by the National Human Genome Research Institute (NHGRI). The new technologies will sequence a person's DNA quickly and cost-effectively so it routinely can be used by biomedical researchers and health care workers to improve the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of human disease.

"NHGRI and its grantees have made significant progress toward the goal of developing DNA sequencing technologies to sequence a human genome for $1,000 or less," said Eric D. Green, M.D, Ph.D., director of NHGRI, one of the National Institutes of Health. "However, we must continue to support and encourage innovative approaches that hold the most promise for advancing our knowledge of human health and disease."


DNA illustration. Image courtesy of Robert Johnson, University of Pennsylvania
DNA illustration. Image courtesy of Robert Johnson,
University of Pennsylvania.

During the past decade, DNA sequencing costs have fallen dramatically fueled in large part by tools, technologies and process improvements developed by the Human Genome Project. NHGRI subsequently launched programs in 2004 to accelerate improvements in sequencing technologies and to further drive down the cost. Last year, the program surpassed the goal of producing high-quality genome sequences of 3 billion base pairs - the amount of DNA found in humans and other mammals - for $100,000. The cost to sequence a human genome has now dipped below $40,000. Ultimately, NHGRI's vision is to cut the cost of whole-genome sequencing of an individual's genome to $1,000 or less, which will enable sequencing to be a part of routine medical care.

"Next generation sequencing technologies used in laboratories today have allowed significant advances in the scale and scope of biological research," said Jeffery Schloss, Ph.D., NHGRI's program director for technology development. "Still, there are other improvements that remain to be made before such sequencing tools can be used routinely in the laboratory and clinic."

The new grants will fund ten investigator teams to develop revolutionary technologies that may make it possible to sequence a genome for $1,000. The collective approaches incorporate 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.

$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 funding are:

  • Adam Abate, Ph.D., GnuBIO Inc., New Haven, Conn.
    $240,000 (1 year)
    Microfluidic DNA Sequencing
  • Jeremy S. Edwards, Ph.D., University of New Mexico Health Sciences Center, Albuquerque
    $2.7 million (3 years)
    Polony Sequencing and the $1000 Genome
  • Javier A. Farinas, Ph.D., Caerus Molecular Diagnostics Inc., Los Altos, Calif.
    $500,000 (2 years)
    Millikan Sequencing by Label-Free Detection of Nucleotide Incorporation
  • M. Reza Ghadiri, Ph.D., Scripps Research Institute, La Jolla, Calif.
    $5.1 million (4 years)
    Single-Molecule DNA Sequencing with Engineered Nanopores
  • Steven J. Gordon, Ph.D., Intelligent Bio-Systems Inc., Waltham, Mass.
    $2.6 million (2 years)
    Ordered Arrays for Advanced Sequencing Systems
  • Xiaohua Huang, Ph.D., University of California San Diego
    $800,000 (2 years)
    Direct Real-Time Single Molecule DNA Sequencing
  • Stuart Lindsay, Ph.D., Arizona State University, Tempe
    $860,000 (3 years)
    Tunnel Junction for Reading All Four DNA Bases with High Discrimination
  • Amit Meller, Ph.D., Boston University
    $4.1 million (4 years)
    Single Molecule Sequencing by Nanopore-Induced Photon Emission
  • Murugappan Muthukumar, Ph.D., University of Massachusetts, Amherst
    $800,000 (3 years)
    Modeling Macromolecular Transport for Sequencing Technologies
  • Dean Toste, Ph.D., University of California, Berkeley
    $430,000 (2 years)
    Base-Selective Heavy Atom Labels for Electron Microscopy-Based DNA Sequencing

To read the grant abstracts go to Advanced Sequencing Technology Awards 2010. For more details about the full technology development program, go to: Genome Technology Program.

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.


Geoff Spencer

Last updated: March 07, 2013