SOURCE: X PRIZE Foundation

December 04, 2007 07:00 ET

Revolutionary Geneticist Dr. George Church to Compete for the Archon X PRIZE for Genomics

Church's Personal Genome X-Team Is the Sixth Official Contender for the $10 Million Genome Sequencing Prize

SANTA MONICA, CA--(Marketwire - December 4, 2007) - Dr. George Church, one of the originators of the Human Genome Project and currently a professor of genetics at Harvard Medical School, has announced his intention to compete in the $10 million Archon X PRIZE for Genomics. His team, the Personal Genome X-Team (PGx), consists of some of the top minds in genomics and device research and development in the world.

"PGx is going to be a very formidable competitor for this prize," said Marc Hodosh, Senior Director for the Archon X PRIZE for Genomics. "Dr. Church's extensive expertise in the field of genomics is of the highest caliber and he has been truly instrumental in advancing the entire field over the past three decades. We believe with six competitors now in the field, we are another step closer to personalized, preventive medicine."

The Archon X PRIZE for Genomics is the second prize launched by the X PRIZE Foundation following the success of the Ansari X PRIZE for Sub-Orbital Space. To win the $10 million genomics prize purse, teams must successfully sequence 100 human genomes within 10 days for less than $10,000 per genome. This accomplishment is a needed and necessary step to create a new era of personalized, predictive and preventive medicine, eventually transforming medical care from reactive to proactive. This past spring, another competitor in the Archon X PRIZE for Genomics reached a major milestone in rapid genome sequencing by decoding the DNA of James Watson, co-discoverer of the double-helix structure of DNA, in only a few months for approximately a million dollars.

"The Personal Genome Project was founded in recognition that second generation DNA sequencing has arrived and along with it, affordable personal genomics in which anyone will be able to access their own genetic information," said Church. "We feel that the Archon X PRIZE for Genomics will help raise consciousness, encourage cost reductions and standardize comparisons, all of which will allow for the creation of truly personalized medicine."

Members of team PGx come from a variety of backgrounds, all of which will contribute to the development of their sequencing method, which is a combination of multiplex polony sequencing strategy and haplotyping. Rich Terry, MS in Aerospace Engineering from Boston University, is senior engineer for device R&D and integration. Greg Porreca, PhD, Harvard Medical School, is co-developer of most aspects of multiplex polony sequencing. Jay Shendure, MD, PhD, is Assistant Professor of Genome Sciences at the University of Washington. Kevin McCarthy, BS in Physics from MIT, is the Chief Technology Officer of Danaher Motion - Dover.

ABOUT THE X PRIZE FOUNDATION

The X PRIZE Foundation is an educational nonprofit prize institute whose mission is to create radical breakthroughs for the benefit of humanity. On October 4, 2004, the X PRIZE Foundation captured world headlines when Mojave Aerospace Ventures, led by legendary aircraft designer Burt Rutan and Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen, built and flew the world's first private vehicle to space twice in two weeks to win the $10 million Ansari X PRIZE. The X PRIZE Foundation has since launched the $10 million Archon X PRIZE for Genomics and the $30 million Google Lunar X PRIZE, and will continue to offer new prizes for breakthroughs in the areas of life improvement, exploration, equity of opportunity and sustainability. The Foundation is widely recognized as the leading model for fostering innovation through competition. For more information, please visit www.xprize.org or email prcontact@xprize.org. For more information on the Archon X PRIZE for Genomics, please visit http://genomics.xprize.org.

ABOUT GEORGE CHURCH

George Church is Professor of Genetics at Harvard Medical School and Director of the Personal Genome Project and NHGRI Center of Excellence in Genome Science (CEGS). His 1984 Harvard PhD included the first direct genomic sequencing method. He also co-initiated the Human Genome Project in 1984. His lab's multiplex sequencing was used at Genome Therapeutics Corp. for the first commercial genome sequence in 1994. He is co-founder of Codon Devices and LS9 Inc. For more information about PGx, please visit www.personalgenomes.org.

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