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NHGRI prioritizes model organisms for sequencing

BETHESDA, MD, May 22, 2002 -- The National Human Genome Research Institute has prioritized the next group of organisms to be considered for entry into the sequencing pipeline as the current efforts with human, mouse and rat approach completion. The organisms designated as high priority for having their genome analyzed include chicken, chimpanzee, several species of fungi, a sea urchin, a microscopic animal commonly used in laboratory studies called Tetrahymena, and the honey bee. The institute designated two other organisms, the rhesus macaque and a protozoan, as having a moderate priority for sequencing.

The decision does not specifically launch large-scale sequencing on any of these organisms. Rather, it creates a pool of candidate organisms on which the institute-supported sequencing centers can choose to begin working as capacity becomes available. NHGRI supports large-scale sequencing at the Whitehead Institute/MIT Center for Genome Research in Cambridge, Mass., the Genome Sequencing Center at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, Mo., and the Human Genome Sequencing Center at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, Tex. Since the sequencing capacity of these centers is currently committed to the human, mouse, and rat projects, new genomic sequencing efforts may not start for some months. Before the centers can start sequencing any of these other organisms, they must get final permission from NHGRI. The institute will indicate on its website when a sequencing center has begun sequencing one of these organisms, as well as the strategy to be employed, and a timetable for the project.

"We've recently learned surprising things by comparing the mouse to the human genome," said Francis S. Collins, M.D., Ph.D., director of the National Human Genome Research Institute, a part of the National Institutes of Health. "The addition of other genomes helps us find the important parts of the genome that have been conserved. For example, we
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Contact: Geoff Spencer
spencerg@mail.nih.gov
301-402-0911
NIH/National Human Genome Research Institute
22-May-2002


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