Genome Sequencing Center Opens, Nov. 19, 2007

Center to conduct research that will improve life, help scientists with illness

Contact: Peter St. Cyr (505) 319-3237
Joan Griffin (505) 261-4444

Santa Fe, NM – November 19, 2007 – The National Center for Genome Resources (NCGR) today announced the official opening of The New Mexico Genome Sequencing Center, a-state-of-the-art center featuring two Illumina Genome Analyzer Systems. The Center is capable of sequencing about 400 million bases a day which corresponds to determining the code of life of 30 infectious disease agents a week or the entire human genome in two months. The opening of this center places New Mexico at the forefront in the nation in genome research.

“Genome sequencing promises to transform medicine. With these systems, researchers around the State can now able to undertake pioneering studies of the molecular causes of diseases, which aids in understanding, prevention, diagnosis and personalized treatment. We also are sequencing a variety of crops, which will allow us to develop new uses for those crops and breed improved crops that can withstand severe weather or disease,” explained Dr. Stephen F. Kingsmore, President of NCGR.

The New Mexico Genome Sequencing Center is a partnership between NCGR and the New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology (New Mexico Tech). It was made possible through the concerted efforts of New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson, Senators Pete Domenici and Jeff Bingaman and the New Mexico Legislature, specifically Senator Carlos Cisneros and Representative Nick Salazar.

The New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology, commonly known as New Mexico Tech, was founded in 1889 by territorial legislation as the New Mexico School of Mines. Over the course of almost 120 years, the publicly funded university’s mission has expanded greatly, and New Mexico Tech is now an outstanding research university, specializing in areas of science, engineering, and related fields. New Mexico Tech Faculty, Researchers and Students will collaborate with NCGR to study real world problems in human health and environmental contamination.

A genome is an organism’s complete set of instructions for all the activities of every cell, tissue and organ. The genome is made up of deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA), a chemical that has two strands, each made up of four chemical units, called nucleotide bases. The human genome contains approximately 3 billion of these bases. Infectious disease genomes are much smaller ranging in size from thousands to several hundred million bases.

Genome sequencing determines the exact order of the bases. The genome is broken into small DNA fragments and loaded into a sequencing machine. After determining the exact order of the bases in the fragments, a computer assembles them into continuous stretches: the genome sequence.

Some of the genome sequencing projects NCGR is currently engaged in include studying the fruit rot, leaf spot or green wilt of chili peppers, that will help farmers control infestation; discovering the genetic basis of schizophrenia and infectious disease
outcomes; studies to understand food allergy; as well as new alternative raw biomaterials for the energy industry.

NCGR’s mission is improving health, nutrition and the environment by genome sequencing and analysis. For more information go to www.ncgr.org.