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Human Genome News, January-June 1997; 8:(3-4)

Merck Genomics Institute Established

On April 9, Merck & Co., Inc., announced the establishment of the Merck Genome Research Institute, Inc. (MGRI) to support development of scientific technology for linking human genetic traits and resolving biological function of disease genes. This not-for-profit institute will promote and sponsor projects for broadly applicable assays and methodologies to improve the accuracy and speed with which function can be associated with sequences of genetic information.

"We believe this institute's mission meets a current scientific need to translate our knowledge of gene sequence into function," said MGRI President C. Thomas Caskey. "In the spirit of the Merck Gene Index Project, the institute will ensure that such genetic technology is available to the entire biomedical community."

Awarding one of its first grants, MGRI announced in April that it plans to give $8 million to Lexicon Genetics, Inc. (The Woodlands, Texas) to create 150 new strains of 'knockout' mice that have had particular genes disrupted. To help researchers determine the functions of the disabled genes, the mice will be made available at low cost to academic researchers.

Grant Research Areas

MGRI will fund grants or agreements to support research on gene function in the following general areas:

  • Merck Gene Index Expansion: Identify tissues with disease associations and increase the usefulness of sequence data by targeting complete gene sequences.
  • Informatics: Develop new algorithms for predicting gene function based on sequence content.
  • Disease Models: Develop methods to create gene-targeted mutations for studying gene function in specific models such as bacteria, Drosophila, yeast, and mice.
  • Human Genetics: Archive cells from informative families with common heritable diseases.

Grant applications should propose 1- to 2-year research projects that broadly address program objectives. Grants are expected to range from about $100,000 to $150,000 per project year and, in some cases, may be renewable. Large research projects and small pilot programs will be considered. [Contact for information, applications: Finley Austin, Administrative Director; MGRI; P.O. Box& 4, WP 42-300; Sumneytown Pike; West Point, PA 19486; mgri@merck.com]

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Human Genome Program, U.S. Department of Energy, Human Genome News (v8n3).

Human Genome Project 1990–2003

The Human Genome Project (HGP) was an international 13-year effort, 1990 to 2003. Primary goals were to discover the complete set of human genes and make them accessible for further biological study, and determine the complete sequence of DNA bases in the human genome. See Timeline for more HGP history.

Human Genome News

Published from 1989 until 2002, this newsletter facilitated HGP communication, helped prevent duplication of research effort, and informed persons interested in genome research.