Spanish genotyping facility may close
More than 20 research projects in jeopardy following failed moving plans
A Spanish genotyping facility
based in Barcelona may close after plans to move fell through, and the current location became no longer available. If the facility closes, it could damage more than 20 research projects already underway, and halt ambitious plans to provide southern Europe with a large-scale genomics research center.
The genotyping facility is based in the Center for Genomic Regulation
(CRG). The facility performed 10 million genotyping tests last year, and helps support 50 scientists currently
working on 21 research projects
But now, the lab needs to find a new space. The CRG is progressively moving to a new building, which will house several research
centers making up a new Biomedical Research Park of Barcelona
(PRBB). The new building was supposed to include a spot for the genotyping facility. "Because of a redistribution of spaces between the different centers making up the PRBB, the space booked for the genotyping node was left out," Xavier Estivill
, the director of the genotyping facility, told The Scientist
. The facility has been in borrowed space at a nearby marine and environmental center
, but that spot has since been allocated for "other activities," Estivill added.
"The reality is that nobody has made anything to ensure that the genotyping unit has its room at CRG," CRG director Miguel Beato told The Scientist
. "From CRG, several initiatives have been set up to alert the authorities and the users about the upcoming problem, which is not trivial given the importance of the unit with its multiple commitments," he noted. However, Beato said he has not received "concrete responses" from authorities on the future of the genotyping facility.
Carlos Martínez-Alonso, president of the Spanish Higher Research Council, which runs the center currently temporarily hosting the troubled genotyping facility, did not respond to requests for comment.
PRBB director Jordi Camí
told The Scientist
that he agrees that the genotyping unit must continue, but it is not PRBB's responsibility to solve the problem of a lack of space.
If the genotyping center closes, it may signal the death knell of Estivill's plans to develop a large genomic technology center in Barcelona, employing 200 scientists and boosting genomics in the region
. The genotyping until was intended to serve as part of the nucleus of the new center. "Europe is lagging behind USA in sequencing. Accordingly, projects such as [Estivill's] are of vital importance for Europe to remain cutting edge in the biological sciences," Eddy Rubin, director of the DOE Joint Genome Institute
in Walnut Creek, Ca., told The Scientist
José Luis Jorcano, director of the Spanish Genome Foundation, which funds the troubled facility, told The Scientist
that if no solution is found, "we will appeal to superior authorities."
Links within this article:
Barcelona genotyping facility
Center for Genomics Regulation
E Barroso et al., "FANCD2 associated with sporadic breast cancer risk," Carinogenesis
, May 7, 2006.
M Del Campo et al., "Hemizygosity at the NCF1 gene in patients with Williams-Beuren syndrome decreases their risk of hypertension," American Journal of Human Genetics
, April 2006.
X Bosch, "Bacterial genomics in Spain," The Scientist
, April 2, 2004.
Biomedical Research Park of Barcelona
Xavier Estivill page at CRG
Mediterranean Marine and Environmental Center
X Bosch, "Genetic secrets of good wine," The Scientist
, May 7, 2004.
Joint Genome Institute