Scientists at the Beijing Genomics Institute (BGI) in China have announced that they have completed the first complete diploid genome sequence of a Chinese individual (see press release). This comes within months of the first two individual genomes to be sequenced, that of James Watson, Nobel Laureate and co-discoverer of the double helix structure of DNA (see previous news article), and Craig Venter, maverick scientist who lead the private bid to sequence the human genome (see previous news article). It is the first non-Caucasian genome to be sequenced in its entirety, although it has not yet been published in a peer-reviewed journal for international scientific use.

The project was undertaken by BGI’s Shenzhen branch, also known as Shenzhen Huada, a non-profit research organization funded primarily by local governments in partnership with several companies. The institute plans to sequence 99 more Chinese genomes as part of a 100-person project to map DNA polymorphisms in the Chinese population, and is offering wealthy Chinese the opportunity to have their own genome completely sequenced and analyzed for $1.3 million. Another project to sequence the panda genome is also underway at the institute.

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