Google Supporting George Church’s Personal Genome Project

2/29/08

The Personal Genome Project, led by Harvard Medical School professor George Church, got a boost from Google late last year, according to a report today from Bloomberg.

One of several academic and commercial efforts that Church, an Xconomist, is leading to develop tools and practices for sequencing and interpreting individual people’s DNA, the PGP is a nonprofit project aiming to sequence the genomes of 100,000 people. (Church and several other prominent members of the local innovation community will be among the first 10 volunteers.) Church also helms the Personal Genome X-Team (PGx), which is competing for the $10 million Archon X Prize for Genomics, and is the co-founder of Cambridge, MA-based startup Knome, which offers individual genome sequencing and analysis for $350,000 a pop.

According to the Bloomberg story, Church expects that sequencing the 100,000 genomes for the Personal Genome Project and linking the sequence data with individuals’ health information in a massive database will cost $1 billion. And an unspecified chunk of that is now coming from Google, which has recently also thrown its weight behind the California-based personal sequencing startup 23andme, among other health-related efforts. A Google spokesperson told Bloomberg that the Internet giant made a donation to the PGP late last year. On its website, the project lists Google alongside of healthcare investment firm Orbimed and the nonprofit COUQ Foundation as supporting the project with unrestricted gifts; Cambridge, MA’s Helicos and Applied Biosystems, a Foster City, CA-based business group of Norwalk, CT’s Applera, are among a handful of firms that have made unrestricted royalty donations to the PGP.

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