$10 million sequencing prize for centenarians' genomes

27 October 2011

The Archon Prize for Genomics has been revised to focus on sequencing the genomes of one hundred centenarians, it has been announced.

The $10 million prize, announced in 2006 (see previous news), will go to the team of researchers whose DNA sequencing technique will allow them to quickly and accurately decode 100 human genomes. Teams are to receive the 100 genomes at the start of January 2013 – the selection of centenarians is reportedly already underway – and judging will take place a month later, based on speed, accuracy and cost of sequencing. Error rates must be less than one per million base pairs and the cost must be below $1000 per genome.
The prize was originally aimed at sequencing the genomes from a selection of 100 celebrities, donors and members of the public, within ten days, with a view to driving breakthroughs in human genome sequencing and medical applications.  Under new sponsors Medco Health Solutions, the new focus is on the genomics of health, with the data from the proposed group of 100 people of at least 105 years old to form a new public database for research into wellness.
Comment: The $1000 genome has been a goal since the early days of the Human Genome Project; now, at last, it may be within reach – even if the ten day limit originally planned by the Archon Foundation has proved a little too stringent.

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