Press Release

J. Craig Venter Announces Consolidation of Three Research Organizations Into One New Not-For-Profit Organization — The J. Craig Venter Institute

The Center for Advancement of Genomics (TCAG), Institute for Biological Energy Alternatives (IBEA), and J. Craig Venter Science Foundation Joint Technology Center (JTC) consolidated to form J. Craig Venter Institute

(September 29, 2004) ROCKVILLE, MD — J. Craig Venter, Ph.D., today announced the consolidation of three not-for-profit research institutes into one institute, the J. Craig Venter Institute (Venter Institute). The new institute will continue the research and policy activities of the three merged institutes: The Center for the Advancement of Genomics (TCAG), the Institute for Biological Energy Alternatives (IBEA), and the J. Craig Venter Science Foundation Joint Technology Center (JTC). These organizations are devoted to basic science genomic research, high-throughput genomic sequencing, and genomic policy research. TIGR is an affiliated research organization led by Claire M. Fraser, Ph.D. Both TIGR and the Venter Institute will continue to be supported by the J. Craig Venter Science Foundation (JCVSF).

"Nearly three years ago I founded TCAG, IBEA and the JTC as separate research institutes with individual but interrelated genomic research goals. These young organizations have made astounding strides in a short amount of time with nearly 200 employees, several major scientific publications, and a budget of more than $50 million," said J. Craig Venter, Ph.D., president of the Venter Institute and Chairman of the Board of Trustees of the J. Craig Venter Science Foundation and The Institute for Genomic Research. "Our goal in merging the three institutes into one is to streamline administrative, board and fiscal functions so that we can more fully and effectively concentrate on our research."

Research at the J. Craig Venter Institute

The newly named J. Craig Venter Institute will continue the groundbreaking research begun at TCAG, IBEA, and the JTC. This work includes:

  • Human Genomic Medicine: Led by Robert L. Strausberg, Ph.D., this group of researchers is exploring the genetic causes and genomic solutions to diseases such as cancer. In addition to the ongoing collaborations with Duke University Medical Center and the University of California, San Diego, the team will be collaborating closely with other leading academic, government and private organizations. Dr. Strausberg was formerly the VP of Research at TIGR and prior to that the Director of the Office of Cancer Genomics at the National Cancer Institute.
  • Environmental and Evolutionary Genomics: Led by J. Craig Venter, Ph.D., the current focus of this group is the Sorcerer II Expedition, a research expedition that is circumnavigating the globe sampling sea water approximately every 200 miles. The seawater is filtered through decreasing sized filters onboard the vessel to capture various sized microorganisms. These filters are shipped back to our laboratories in Rockville, Maryland, where the DNA is isolated, sequenced, and analyzed. The group has already published test results from the Sargasso Sea in which more than 1,800 new species and 1.3 million new genes were identified. It is estimated that tens of millions of new genes could be found through the two -year long Expedition.
  • Synthetic Biology: Led by Hamilton O. Smith, M.D., Nobel Laureate, the team at the Venter Institute is concentrating on new methodologies to synthesize large segments of DNA to eventually enable the construction of whole artificial chromosomes. Through new understandings of gene and genome function, researchers could one day more efficiently and safely develop pharmaceuticals, chemicals, and textiles. Most genomes contain hundreds to thousand of genes necessary for adaptive living in complex environments. By synthesizing minimal genomes the team believes it is possible to construct simple cellular life with desirable synthetic properties, including the inability to live outside the lab environment.
  • Biological Energy Production: Led by Hamilton O. Smith, M.D., this team is focusing their efforts on biological production of cleaner and more efficient fuel production, primarily hydrogen. Current projects include: research on ways to produce clean hydrogen fuel from sunlight and water, by modifying photosynthesis as well as reengineering enzyme pathways in certain bacteria to cost-effectively produce ethanol from woody biomass.
  • High throughput DNA sequencing: Under the leadership of Yu Hui Rogers, the Venter Institute's Joint Technology Center sequences nearly 100 million base pairs of DNA per day for the Venter Institute and TIGR scientific projects. These projects include microbial, environmental, plant, insect, and mammalian genomics.

The J. Craig Venter Institute (Venter Institute) is a not-for-profit research institute dedicated to the advancement of the science of genomics; the understanding of its implications for society; and communication of those results to the scientific community, the public, and policymakers. Founded by J. Craig Venter, Ph.D., the Venter Institute is home to approximately 200 staff and scientists with expertise in human and evolutionary biology, genetics, bioinformatics/informatics, information technology, high-throughput DNA sequencing, genomic and environmental policy research, and communications. Our areas of scientific focus include: human genomic medicine with an emphasis on cancer genomics and human genome resequencing and analysis; environmental genomic analysis with an emphasis on microbial biodiversity, ecology, and evolution; use of molecular and genomic methods to develop biological sources of clean energy; synthetic genome development; and policy research on the ethical, legal, and economic issues associated with genomic science and technology. The Venter Institute is a 501 (c) (3) organization. www.venterinstitute.org

The J. Craig Venter Science Foundation (JCVSF) is the support organization for TIGR and the Venter Institute. The Foundation will provide administrative support and will coordinate policy and research activities between TIGR and the Venter Institute and will carry out investment management and fund-raising activities on behalf of these organizations. In addition to this internal support, the Foundation will explore new ways to foster science education and scientific innovation. JCVSF is a 501 (c) (3) organization. www.venterscience.org

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Heather Kowalski
Kowalski Communications