October 10, 2006

grants to develop $1,000 genome sequencing technology

Xiaohua Huang, a professor of bioengineering in UCSD's Jacobs School of Engineering, leads the effort at UCSD to develop a promising technology that shrinks what is currently being done in large genome-sequencing laboratories down to a glass slide the size of a business card. Huang's team will combine micro- and nano-fabrication technologies with innovative chemistry technologies to simultaneously sequence more than 1 billion individual pieces of DNA attached to the surface of single slides.

Huang will be joined at the Jacobs School by Pavel Pevzner, a professor in the Computer Science and Engineering Department who leads the department's Bioinformatics Laboratory. Sequencing the 23 pairs of human chromosomes extracted from the cells of one individual involves cutting the DNA into tens of millions to hundreds of millions of pieces, and Pevzner is developing the computational techniques needed to computationally reassemble the chromosomes by piecing together the overlapping ends of all the fragments after they have been sequenced.

Bioengineering professor Michael Heller is a third member of the UCSD team. He is an expert on using electric fields to actively manipulate biomolecules and assemblies of nanostructures. His expertise will be utilized to accelerate and enhance the sequencing process.

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