Thursday, July 20, 2000

UC, Children's to get access to genetic code

By Tim Bonfield
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        The University of Cincinnati and the Children's Hospital Research Foundation have decided to buy access to a private version of the human genetic code to speed up local genetic research.

        A three-year deal with Celera Genomics — the Rockville, Md.-based company that had been competing with the public Human Genome Project — was signed Wednesday.

        Terms were not disclosed.

        Obtaining Celera's data is a vital step in UC's efforts to expand biotech research and development in Greater Cin cinnati.

        The information will be used to boost research in four areas: cancer; heart and lung disease; neurology and behavior; and newborn care and childhood development.

        “The announcement (June 26) that scientists have substantially decoded the human genome places genetic research on a fast track to develop new approaches for preventing and treating many diseases,” said Dr. Donald Harrison, senior vice president and provost for health affairs at UC.

        UC and Children's Hospital officials decided to make the investment even though much of Celera's data is, or eventually will be, duplicated by the public Human Genome Project years down the road.

        “We couldn't afford to wait,” said Dr. Robert Highsmith, UC's director of research and graduate education.

        Celera already has similar deals with Harvard and Vanderbilt universities.

        The deal gives researchers access to Celera's high-tech tool kit that allows users to analyze genetic data at high speeds, Dr. Highsmith said. Without that software, UC would have to build its own staff to do the computer programming needed to analyze the genetic data.

        Getting results using Celera's system should be years faster than attempting to use the public data, Dr. Highsmith said.


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