Press Release

TIGR Develops Major Center for Functional Genomics with $25 million contract from the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases

November 28, 2001

Now that many of the genomes of organisms associated with the leading causes of infectious diseases have been sequenced, the next major challenge is to determine the biological function of genes and the proteins they produce. This is a challenge for both biology and technology. But functional genomics resources for the production and utilization of DNA arrays and genotyping activities remain prohibitively expensive for many researchers to set up or access.

Therefore, the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases has awarded a $25 million/five year contract to The Institute for Genomic Research (TIGR) to establish a center for functional genomics that will be an invaluable resource to the scientific community. This contract reflects the NIAID's commitment to enabling advances in this critical area of research.

"TIGR is extremely pleased to receive this contract from NIAID. It will allow us to continue our work at the forefront of genomics while also providing a unique service to the scientific community," says TIGR president Claire M. Fraser, Ph.D. "Because of the collaborative nature of the partnership the new Center will have with its clients, we believe that novel ideas will be generated to help us reach our goal of finding new research tools as well as practical solutions to microbial diseases."

The Pathogen Functional Genomics Resource Center (PFGRC) at TIGR will centralize production, access, and training in the use of a variety of resources for exploring the roles of genes and gene products (including proteins) in a significant number of microbes known to cause disease. It will be a multidisciplinary laboratory, resource, and teaching facility.

The Pathogen Functional Genomics Resource Center at TIGR will provide scientists with centralized resources necessary to conduct functional genomics studies on a variety of pathogens and vectors for which genomic sequence information is currently, or will soon be, available. The near-term goals of the PFGRC are to provide researchers with microarray and genotyping technology, along with access to clone sets, genomic DNA, and type strains. TIGR's strong bioinformatics capacity will provide the resources for data analysis and storage. The new PFGRC will develop a Center-Client web-based interface that will make it easy for scientists to access and acquire resources. 

These new technologies in functional genomics hold great promise for identifying the roles played by the thousands of novel but as yet uncharacterized genes that have been revealed by genome sequencing, and for unraveling the complex relationships among genes. While such research will dramatically increase our understanding of the basic biology of pathogenic organisms, it should also accelerate the identification of new diagnostic markers of infectious disease, new therapeutic targets, and new vaccine candidates. The importance of such anticipated advances cannot be overemphasized. Infectious and parasitic diseases are the second leading cause of death world-wide and increasing levels of antibiotic resistance are posing ever-increasing threats to public health.

TIGR is an ideal home for the Pathogen Functional Genomics Resource Center. The Institute is widely recognized as a leader in all aspects of genomics, including sequencing, and functional, and comparative genomics. In 1995 TIGR scientists were the first to publish the complete sequence of a free-living organism, Haemophilus influenzae. Since its founding as a not-for-profit research institution in 1992, TIGR scientists have sequenced the complete genomes or chromosomes of more than 25 significant organisms, including those that cause cholera, tuberculosis, chlamydial infections, and syphilis. TIGR scientists are also active in research projects on agriculturally important organisms, and are leaders in studying so-called "extremophiles," that survive under conditions that are not compatible with human life, but reveal important information about biological evolution.