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UC Davis and BGI complete master agreement to create BGI@UC Davis genome facility

By Pat Bailey on February 17, 2012 in Science & Technology

LOS ANGELES -- The University of California, Davis, and China-based BGI, the world’s largest genomics organization, based in China, signed a master agreement today (Feb. 17) sealing a partnership that will change the landscape of genomic sciences in California and the Western states by establishing a joint facility called BGI@UC Davis. The alliance will foster critical breakthroughs in the areas of food security, and human, animal and environmental health.

The master agreement was signed today by UC Davis Provost Ralph G. Hexter and Hao Zhang, co-director of BGI@UC Davis, at a morning ceremony in Los Angeles, with high-ranking dignitaries from China and the United States attending.

“Today marks an exciting new chapter in the collaboration between UC Davis, with our exceptional strengths in biology, medicine, food and the environment, and BGI, the world’s premier genomics organization,” said UC Davis Chancellor Linda P.B. Katehi. “The discoveries that flow from this partnership will have a worldwide impact.”

Under the agreement, UC Davis faculty and students will expand access to the capabilities and expertise of one of the world’s premier genomics and bioinformatics institutes, while BGI researchers will be able to access the university’s diverse resources and expertise in research, especially in biology, human and veterinary medicine, agriculture, the environment and education.

Jian Wang, president of BGI stated, “We look forward to a highly productive relationship with UC Davis, one of the top research universities in the U.S., especially in the areas of agricultural, environmental and biological research. Given UC Davis’ expertise in these areas, coupled with BGI’s expertise in genome sequencing and bioinformatics, we expect this partnership and the establishment of BGI@UC Davis to lead to significant scientific breakthroughs.”

In June of 2011, Katehi and Wang signed the initial agreement to establish the BGI@UC Davis partnership during a meeting in Shenzhen, one of China’s Special Economic Zones.

This was followed by a second agreement signed in October 2011 that established an interim BGI facility for immediate use at the UC Davis School of Medicine in Sacramento and initiated planning for a permanent BGI@UC Davis facility. That signing ceremony, held in Sacramento for this second agreement was attended by both Qin Xu, the mayor of Shenzhen, and Kevin Johnson, the mayor of Sacramento.

Under the October 2011 agreement, BGI has moved three state-of-the-art DNA sequencing machines into the interim facility on the UC Davis Sacramento campus. When complete, the facility will accommodate 20 such machines, dramatically increasing the DNA sequencing capacity readily available to campus researchers.

The partnership between BGI and UC Davis will provide new opportunities for researchers at both institutions, said Harris Lewin, vice chancellor for research at UC Davis. It will enable them to tackle bigger and more complex problems and assemble teams that can compete for bigger grants. It will also act as a catalyst to bring new companies and businesses to Sacramento, Lewin said.

The BGI@UC Davis facility will partner with the existing UC Davis Genome Center, located in the Genome and Biomedical Sciences Facility on the UC Davis campus, in the further development of genomics at UC Davis. The new BGI@UC Davis facility will dramatically increase the capacity for sequencing at UC Davis.

Genomics is a discipline of biology concerning the study of the genome, or all the genes of an organism. The field includes intensive efforts to determine the genomes of plants, animals, microbes and other living things, as a way to better understand how they grow, develop and function. Since the first human genome was completed in 2001, the genomes of many other plants and animals have been sequenced, including lab animals and plants, crops such as rice, and disease-causing microbes.

About BGI

BGI was founded in Beijing, China in 1999, with the mission of being a premier scientific partner to the global research community. The goal of BGI is to make leading-edge genomic science highly accessible through its investment in infrastructure that leverages the best available technology, economies of scale and expert bioinformatics resources. BGI and its affiliates, BGI Americas, based in Cambridge, MA, and BGI Europe, based in Copenhagen, Denmark, have established partnerships and collaborations with leading academic and government research institutions as well as global biotechnology and pharmaceutical companies, supporting a variety of disease, agricultural, environmental and related applications. BGI has established a proven track record of excellence, delivering results with high efficiency and accuracy for innovative, high profile research, which has generated more than 170 publications in top-tier journals such as Nature and Science. These accomplishment include sequencing one percent of the human genome for the International Human Genome Project, contributing 10 percent to the international Human HapMap Project, carrying out research to combat SARS and deadly German E. coli, playing a key role in the Sino-British Chicken Genome Project, and completing the sequence of the rice genome, the silkworm genome, the first Asian diploid genome, the potato genome and, most recently, 1,000 genomes and human gut metagenome. For more information about BGI, please visit http://www.genomics.cn and http://www.bgiamericas.com.

About UC Davis

For more than 100 years, UC Davis has engaged in teaching, research and public service that matter to California and transform the world. Located close to the state capital, UC Davis has more than 32,000 students, more than 2,500 faculty and more than 21,000 staff, an annual research budget that exceeds $684 million, a comprehensive health system and 13 specialized research centers. The university offers interdisciplinary graduate study and more than 100 undergraduate majors in four colleges — Agricultural and Environmental Sciences, Biological Sciences, Engineering, and Letters and Science. It also houses six professional schools — Education, Law, Management, Medicine, Veterinary Medicine and the Betty Irene Moore School of Nursing.

Media contact(s)

Pat Bailey, Research news (emphasis: agricultural and nutritional sciences, and veterinary medicine), 530-219-9640, pjbailey@ucdavis.edu

Joyce Peng, Ph.D., Marketing director, BGI Americas Corporation, (626) 222-5584, joyce.peng@bgiamericas.com

Bicheng Yang, Public Communication Officer, BGI, +86-755-25273450, yangbicheng@genomics.cn

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