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NHGRI targets 12 more organisms for genome sequencing

BETHESDA, Md., Tues., Mar. 1, 2005 The National Human Genome Research Institute (NHGRI), one of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), announced today that the Large-Scale Sequencing Research Network will begin sequencing 12 more strategically selected organisms, including the marmoset, a skate and several important insects, as part of its ongoing effort to expand understanding of the human genome.

The National Advisory Council for Human Genome Research, which is a federally chartered committee that advises NHGRI on program priorities and goals, recently approved a comprehensive plan that identified two groups of new sequencing targets on the basis of their collective scientific merits.

"Our sequencing strategy continues to focus on identifying the sets of organisms with the greatest potential to fill crucial gaps in biomedical knowledge," said Mark S. Guyer, Ph.D., director of NHGRI's Division of Extramural Research. "The most effective approach we currently have to identify the essential functional and structural components of the human genome is to compare it with the genomes of other organisms."

Two of the sequencing projects are aimed at gaining new insights into model organisms utilized in research on drug development and disease susceptibility. They are: sequencing the genome of a fellow primate, the marmoset (Callithrix jacchus); and identification of genetic variations (in the form of single nucleotide polymorphisms) in eight strains of rats.

The marmoset is a key model organism used in neurobiological studies of multiple sclerosis, Parkinson's disease and Huntington's disease. The marmoset is also an important model for research into infectious disease and pharmacology.

The marmoset was chosen also because of its unique position on the evolutionary tree, one step further removed from humans than other non-human primates already being sequenced, such as the chimpanzee (Pan troglodytes), the rhesu
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Contact: Geoff Spencer
spencerg@mail.nih.gov
301-451-8325
NIH/National Human Genome Research Institute
1-Mar-2005


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