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UC Davis and BGI announce partnership to establish state-of-the-art genome center in Sacramento

October 25, 2011

The University of California, Davis, and BGI, the world’s largest genomic institute, based in China, have signed a historic agreement that will change the landscape of genomic sciences in California and the Western states, and foster critical breakthroughs in the areas of food security and human, animal and environmental health. The new partnership will establish a state-of-the-art BGI sequencing facility for immediate use on the UC Davis Health System campus in Sacramento, and initiate planning for a permanent BGI@Davis Joint Genome Center.

The new sequencing facility will be used to support research initiatives and collaborations and leverage existing strengths across the Davis and Sacramento campuses in human and animal health and medicine, food safety and security, biology, and the environment. When complete, the permanent center will occupy about 10,000 square feet on the health system campus in Sacramento, initially adding approximately 20 high-skilled jobs. Ultimately, the center will increase UC Davis’ DNA sequencing capability approximately tenfold and generate an estimated 200 new jobs in the Sacramento region.

A signing ceremony for the BGI Davis Partnership was held Monday night at the UC Davis MIND Institute in Sacramento. Participating in the ceremony were Harris Lewin, vice chancellor for research at UC Davis; Jun Wang, executive director of BGI, headquartered in Shenzen, China; and Greg Wang, chief executive officer of BGI Americas, headquartered in Cambridge, Mass. Also taking part were Qin Xu, the mayor of Shenzhen, and Kevin Johnson, mayor of Sacramento.

“UC Davis brings to this partnership phenomenal faculty conducting cutting-edge research on food, health, energy and the environment, while BGI is a world leader in genome sequencing and analysis,” said UC Davis Chancellor Linda P.B. Katehi. “Together, as partners, UC Davis and BGI will be able to take on the biggest challenges in biology, medicine and the environment — right here in Sacramento.”

As envisioned under the agreement, UC Davis faculty and students will gain access to the capabilities and expertise of one of the world’s premier genomics and bioinformatics institutes, while BGI researchers will be able to access the university’s diverse resources and expertise in education and research, especially in biology, human and veterinary medicine, agriculture, and the environment.

Hailing the new partnership, BGI’s Jun Wang stated, “UC Davis is among the top research universities in the U.S., especially in the areas of agricultural, environmental and biological research, and we look forward to a highly productive relationship between our two institutions.

“Given BGI’s expertise in genomic sequencing and bioinformatics, we expect our partnership with the university and the establishment of the planned permanent BGI Davis Joint Genome Center to lead to significant scientific breakthroughs for the betterment of mankind and our planet,” Wang said.

Lewin, who oversees the university’s $684 million annual research enterprise, said the partnership will have far-reaching impacts: “This marks the official start of a scientific partnership between two world-class institutions, and a platform for the potential expansion of our relationship in the future. It will provide exciting new opportunities for both UC Davis researchers and for BGI, and a catalyst for bringing new companies and businesses into the city of Sacramento.”

Having access to world-class genomic sequencing and bioinformatics capabilities on campus “will enable UC Davis faculty to attack bigger and more ambitious problems, as well as to compete for bigger grants and projects by expanding cooperation and collaboration teams in agriculture and health,” said Bart Weimer, professor of population health and reproduction at the UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine and a member of the university’s leadership team assembled to work with BGI on the partnership.

"As mayor of Sacramento, I'm excited to forge a new friendship with BGI and the people of Shenzhen,” said Johnson. "Today's signing is an essential step in advancing a positive partnership with UC Davis, BGI, and the entire Sacramento region and I'm honored to be a part of this historic day. BGI and UC Davis are leaders in their fields and will make advancements in science and technology that have the potential to change the world. I look forward to seeing the impact it will have on the region when it comes to groundbreaking research, the economy, and future job creation."

Genomics is a discipline of biology concerning the study of the genome, or all the genes of an organism. The field includes intensive efforts to determine the genomes of plants, animals, microbes and other living things, as a way to better understand how they grow, develop and function.

About BGI

BGI was founded in Beijing, China, on September 9th, 1999, with the mission of being a premier scientific partner to the global research community. The goal of BGI is to make leading-edge genomic science highly accessible through its investment in infrastructure that leverages the best available technology, economies of scale, and expert bioinformatics resources.

BGI, and its affiliates, BGI Americas and BGI Europe, have established partnerships and collaborations with leading academic and government research institutions as well as global biotechnology and pharmaceutical companies, supporting a variety of disease, agricultural, environmental, and related applications. BGI has established a proven track record of excellence, delivering results with high efficiency and accuracy for innovative, high profile research that has generated more than 170 publications in top-tier journals such as Nature and Science. For additional information about BGI please see http://www.genomics.cn or http://www.bgiamericas.com.

About UC Davis

UC Davis is a global community of individuals united to better humanity and our natural world while seeking solutions to some of our most pressing challenges. Located near the California state capital, UC Davis has more than 34,000 students, and the full-time equivalent of 4,100 faculty and other academics and 17,400 staff. The campus has an annual research budget of over $750 million, a comprehensive health system and 13 specialized research centers. The university offers interdisciplinary graduate study and 99 undergraduate majors in four colleges and six professional schools.

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