Google Backs Harvard Scientist’s 100,000-Genome Quest

March 1, 2008

Feb. 29 (Bloomberg) — A Harvard University scientist backed by Google Inc. and OrbiMed Advisors LLC plans to unlock the secrets of common diseases by decoding the DNA of 100,000 people in the world’s biggest gene sequencing project.

Harvard’s George Church plans to spend $1 billion to tie DNA information to each person’s health history, creating a database for finding new medicines. The U.S., U.K., China and Sweden this year began working together to decipher the genetic makeup of 1,000 people at a cost of $50 million.

Google, owner of the most popular Internet search engine, is looking for ways to give people greater control over their medical data. Along with the unspecified donation to Church, the Mountain View, California-based company said last week that it would work with the Cleveland Clinic to better organize health records, and last year gave $3.9 million to 23andme Inc., a seller of genomic data to individuals.

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UPCOMING EVENT: Beyond the Human Genome Sequence: Entering the Era of Genomic Medicine

April 1, 2007

You are invited to attend an insightful discussion by one of today’s leaders in genomics, Dr. Eric Green.This event is free of charge, presented by Genome BC.

Date: Thursday, April 12

Time: 7pm (doors open at 6.30pm)

Location: Science World at Telus World of Science

1455 Quebec Street

About the Speaker:

Eric D. Green, M.D., Ph.D. is the Scientific Director of the National Human Genome Research Institute (NHGRI) at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) in Bethesda, Maryland, a position he has held since 2002. In addition, he serves as Chief of the NHGRI Genome Technology Branch (since 1996) and Director of the NIH Intramural Sequencing Center (since 1997).

Dr. Green received his B.S. degree in Bacteriology from the University of Wisconsin-Madison in 1981, and his M.D. and Ph.D. degrees from Washington University in 1987. Since the early 1990s, Dr. Green’s research program has been at the forefront of efforts to map, sequence, and understand eukaryotic genomes. His work included significant, start-to-finish involvement in the Human Genome Project. More recently, Dr. Green established a program in comparative genomics that involves the generation and comparative analyses of sequences from targeted genomic regions in multiple evolutionarily diverse species. His laboratory has directly utilized its own mapping and sequence data to identify and characterize several human disease genes, including those implicated in certain forms of hereditary deafness, vascular disease, and inherited peripheral neuropathy.

For more information and to register for this event, visit the GenomeBC website.


Diabetes gene find: a step closer to gene profiling

February 13, 2007

A Canadian-led team has identified five genes associated to Type 2 diabetes, by scanning DNA from almost 7,000 individuals.

Dr. Polychronakos says the field is moving so quickly it will soon be possible to predict from birth the ailments to which a particluar person will become prone.

“You’d be able to take a drop of blood from a newborn and determine if they have genes associated with diabetes, or heart disease or Alzheimer’s or any of the common health problems,” said Dr. Polychronakos, acknowledging there would be difficult social and ethical issues associated with such gene profiling.

The researchers are now looking for other genes that increase the susceptibility to Type 2 diabetes, which will help improve diagnoses and treatment.

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