August 24, 2005

Grants For DNA Sequencing

DNA sequencing has the potential to help find a cure for schizophrenia, as well as give us a better understanding of its biological and genetic background. Genome research can help us cure many of the diseases today that we struggle with; someday it may even be affordable to have your own DNA sequenced. This news release gives information on the recent breakthroughs on DNA sequencing and the grants financing our dreams for the future.

BETHESDA, Md., Mon., Aug. 8, 2005 - The National Human Genome Research Institute (NHGRI), part of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), today announced it has awarded grants totaling more than $32 million to advance the development of innovative sequencing technologies intended to reduce the cost of DNA sequencing and expand the use of genomics in biomedical research and health care.

"The efforts are aimed at speeding the rate at which the next generation of sequencing technologies become available in the scientific lab and the medical clinic," said NHGRI Director Francis S. Collins, M.D., Ph.D. "Not only will these technologies substantially reduce the cost of sequencing a genome, but they will provide a quantum leap in the scope and scale of research aimed at uncovering the genomic contributions to common diseases, such as cancer, heart disease and diabetes."

Over the past decade, DNA sequencing costs have fallen more than 50-fold, 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 about $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, 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 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 individual genomes as part of 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 balance NHGRI's sequencing research portfolio by supporting more investigators working on technologies that would make it feasible to sequence a genome for $1,000. The majority of researchers who received NHGRI's initial sequencing technology grants, issued in October 2004, are working on 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.

"It is very important that we encourage and support the variety of sequencing technology projects that hold the most promise for revolutionizing genome sequencing. Each research team brings a unique set of skills and expertise to solving difficult scientific and engineering problems," said Jeffery Schloss, Ph.D., NHGRI's program director for technology development. "The different approaches will likely yield several successful and complementary technologies. It is going to be interesting to see how each technology progresses and which of them can ultimately be used by the average researcher or physician."

For more details about the NHGRI sequencing technology development grants, go to: 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:


Geoff Spencer, NHGRI
(301) 402-0911


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