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Whitehead Receives $35 Million Grant From National Human Genome Research Institute (NHGRI)

International Consortium Announces Successful Completion of Pilot Project; Accelerated Timetable for Large-scale Effort to Sequence the Human Genome

Cambridge, Massachusetts--The Whitehead Institute for Biomedical Medical Research will receive approximately $35 million from the National Human Genome Research Institute (NHGRI), National Institutes of Health, to participate in the first year of the definitive, full-scale effort to sequence the human genome.

An international consortium today announced successful completion of the pilot phase of sequencing the human genome and the start of the large-scale effort to read all 3 billion DNA letters (referred to as DNA bases) that make up the instruction book for a human being. Based on experience gained from the pilot project, the international consortium now predicts they will produce at least 90 percent of the human genome sequence in a "working draft" form by the spring of 2000, considerably earlier than expected.

The five major sequence producers in the international consortium will be three U.S. laboratories funded by NHGRI (the Whitehead Institute, Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, Missouri, and the Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, Texas); the Joint Genome Institute of the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE); and the Sanger Centre, supported in the United Kingdom by the Wellcome Trust. The NHGRI awards total $81.6 million; the Wellcome Trust has announced that they are adjusting the funding of the Sanger Centre to make available approximately US $77 million for human DNA sequencing over the next 12 months.

Dr. Eric S. Lander, director of the Whitehead/MIT Center for Genome Research, says, "In the pilot phase we and others designed and tested new technologies and strategies for scaling up DNA sequencing;the results were tremendously positive. We showed that we could generate highly accurate, continuous DNA sequence in a cost-effective manner. Now we're re
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Contact: Eve Nichols or Seema Kumar
nichols@wi.mit.edu
617-258-5183
Whitehead Institute for Biomedical Research
15-Mar-1999


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