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World's first databank for all living systems

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Cornell University is one of a handful of universities in the world making investments in excess of $500 million to modernize life sciences research and education programs. Through its New Life Sciences Initiative, Cornell is engaging several hundred researchers across its campuses in Ithaca and at the Weill Cornell Medical College in New York City in a broad program of education and investigation, integrating life sciences with physical, engineering and computational sciences.

Steven Tanksley, the Liberty Hyde Bailey professor of plant breeding at Cornell University, says that the collection of data at the Library of Life is expected to take decades, by many research groups throughout the world. "Future advances in medicine, agriculture and environmental sciences will critically depend on the Library of Life," he says.

Tanksley says that collecting, cataloging and connecting data "will evolve into the new basis for creativity and discoveries about the origins, mechanisms and interconnectedness of life forms, and from that information we will embark on a new future on how we feed and clothe ourselves.

This information will also expand and, in some ways, change how we view ourselves, as the human species, in the larger context of life and the universe."

The library's director, Ron Elber, professor of computer science at Cornell, says that the aim of the library is to assemble a digital catalog and living samples of all microbes, fungi, plants, insects, invertebrates and vertebrates in the region, creating a Library of the Desert. It is because the desert environment is not rich in life forms that comprehensive analysis of life sciences for this specific environment might be feasible in a relatively short time, he says. "This is important since the Library of Life will need to show some tangible outcomes in a few years. Hence, besides the obvious economical and ecological benefits to the region, the Library of the D
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Contact: David Brand
deb27@cornell.edu
607-255-3651
Cornell University News Service
26-Feb-2004


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