With the publication last year of its strategic plan, "Forging the Future — A Ten-Year Strategic Vision" the U.S. Department of Energy Joint Genome Institute (DOE JGI) has positioned itself to provide the most current technology and expertise to their users so that they can address pressing energy and environmental scientific challenges.
An important early step in this process is the launch of the Emerging Technologies Opportunity Program (ETOP). The primary purpose of the ETOP is to develop and support selected new technologies that DOE JGI could establish to add value to the high throughput sequencing it currently carries out for its users. The program was one of several recommendations that emerged from the DOE JGI's strategic planning as well as a complementary process carried out by DOE's Office of Biological and Environmental Research. Now, a new set of partnerships is taking shape in response to the ETOP's first call for proposals. These span the development of new scalable DNA synthesis technologies to the latest approaches to high throughput sequencing and characterization of single microbial cells from complex environmental samples.
"A core philosophy of the DOE JGI is that our suite of technical and analytical capabilities needs to evolve continuously so that the scientific achievements of our users can be maximized," said Jim Bristow, who oversees the ETOP as DOE JGI's Deputy Director of Science Programs. "This occurs by building new scientific capabilities at the DOE JGI itself, and by enlisting partners, like the ones we've identified through this program, to develop and deploy highly-specialized technologies that complement activities at our Walnut Creek facility. While state-of-the art massive-scale sequencing remains a critical component of the DOE JGI, other large-scale capabilities particularly those that will help link sequence to function will be provided to JGI users in the future," Bristow said.
When the DOE JGI was founded back in 1997 to help accelerate the Human Genome Project (HGP) effort, the partnership consisted of DOE National Laboratory and university partners. After completing the DOE's commitment to the HGP in 2004, the DOE JGI opened its doors as a national user facility advancing the frontiers of genomics for energy and environmental applications. In 2012 alone, the Institute completed over 2,600 projects.
For the first cycle of the ETOP, the DOE JGI has selected these six new partnerships:
The DOE JGI expects to commit approximately $3.5 million over the next two years to the new ETOP initiatives.
"The DOE JGI strives to integrate these expanded activities in innovative and effective ways," said Bristow. "This is critical if the biological sciences are to realize the full benefits and promise of genome sequencing."
The U.S. Department of Energy Joint Genome Institute, supported by the DOE Office of Science, is committed to advancing genomics in support of DOE missions related to clean energy generation and environmental characterization and cleanup. DOE JGI, headquartered in Walnut Creek, Calif., provides integrated high-throughput sequencing and computational analysis that enable systems-based scientific approaches to these challenges. Follow @doe_jgi on Twitter.
DOE's Office of Science is the largest supporter of basic research in the physical sciences in the United States, and is working to address some of the most pressing challenges of our time. For more information, please visit science.energy.gov.
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