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Marsupial among model organisms next in line for sequencing

BETHESDA, Md., Wed., Feb. 25, 2004 The Large-Scale Sequencing Research Network this year will begin sequencing the genomes of more than a dozen new model organisms, including the first marsupial to have its DNA deciphered. The research network, supported by the National Human Genome Research Institute (NHGRI), one of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), is part of an effort to further advance understanding of the human genome.

The efforts will be carried out by the five sequencing centers in the NHGRI-supported network: Agencourt Bioscience Corp., Beverly, Mass.; Baylor College of Medicine, Houston; The Eli & Edythe L. Broad Institute, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Cambridge, Mass.; The Institute for Genomic Research (TIGR), J. Craig Venter Science Foundation Joint Technology Center, Rockville, Md.; and Washington University School of Medicine, St. Louis.

"Comparing the human genome sequence with those of other organisms allows us to identify regions of similarity and difference, providing critical clues about the structure and function of human genes," said NHGRI Director Francis S. Collins, M.D., Ph.D. "The ability to compare a wide range of genomes is the best tool currently available for understanding the underlying genomic components that affect human health and disease."

NHGRI's Associate Director of Extramural Research Jane Peterson, Ph.D., added, "Building on the success of the Human Genome Project, we are carrying out a strategic plan to use large-scale sequencing to expand our knowledge of the human genome, as well as to gain new insights into the genomes of major biomedical model systems and to open new windows into evolutionary biology."

The first marsupial selected for sequencing is a gray short-tailed, South American opossum (Monodelphis domestica). The opossum's position in the evolutionary tree provides a major reason to obtain its DNA sequence. Opossums and humans diverged from a common ancestor
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Contact: Geoff Spencer
spencerg@mail.nih.gov
301-402-0911
NIH/National Human Genome Research Institute
25-Feb-2004


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