Spanish genotyping facility may close

More than 20 research projects in jeopardy following failed moving plans

By | July 26, 2006

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." Xavier Bosch Links within this article: Barcelona genotyping facility〈=cast Center for Genomics Regulation E Barroso et al., "FANCD2 associated with sporadic breast cancer risk," Carinogenesis, May 7, 2006. PM_ID: 16679306 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. PM_ID: 16532385 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 Jordi Camí X Bosch, "Genetic secrets of good wine," The Scientist, May 7, 2004. Joint Genome Institute


July 28, 2006

Sir,\n\nIn reading the news "Spanish genotyping facility may close" by Xavier Bosch, published in The Scientist (July 26), I was  very surprised to find my name mentioned.  For the sake of clarity, I would like to explain a few points.  The Spanish National Research Council (CSIC) is temporarily housing a large group of the scientists that constitute the independent Center for Genomic Regulation (CRG) at the CSIC's Marine and Environmental Center (CMIMA) in Barcelona.  The CRG will move next autumn from the nearly 2200 square meters at the CMIMA to a large new building at the Biomedical Research Park of Barcelona (PRBB). Neither the PRBB nor the genotyping facility have agreements with the CSIC, whose only involvement in this matter is the borrowed space for temporary use by the CRG scientists.\n\nThe will of the CSIC in the past, at present, and in the future is to collaborate with all scientific institutions.  In fact, the CSIC currently has more than 50 joint institutes throughout Spain, in collaboration with universities, private foundations, and research institutes sponsored by regional governments.  The only institutional connection between the CSIC and the genotyping facility was a meeting last autumn with the facility's director, Dr. Xavier Estivill, at which he mentioned his interest in possible CSIC participation in setting up a very large genotyping facility; there were no further details at that time.  My response was that a specific program must be proposed, and be evaluated scientifically and economically, to determine the appropriateness of CSIC collaboration.  Since then, conversations have been held with the science representative of the Government of Catalonia, aimed at boosting CSIC collaboration and increasing the CSIC's presence in Catalonia; this included discussion of possible use of the space at the CMIMA.  I have had no further response from Dr. Estivill, nor have I had contact with the author of the news article, Xavier Bosch.\n\nThe reason for my surprise is to see the CSIC mentioned, in the report, in relation to facilities and programmes in which it is not involved in an institutional manner.  The aim of the CSIC is to help, but to do so, these matters need to be discussed carefully and rigorously.  Biting the hand that feeds you, or that aids you, is certainly not the best way to solve a problem.\n\nCarlos Martinez-A.\nPresident, CSIC
Avatar of: Alison McCook

Alison McCook

Posts: 68

July 28, 2006

Our freelance reporter, Xavier Bosch, contacted the press office of the Spanish National Research Council (CSIC), on both Thursday July 13, and Friday July 14, using the phone number on the CSIC web site ( On both occasions, he spoke to a representative and left his mobile number, and said he wanted to speak with Carlos Martinez A, CSIC president.\n\nXavier also emailed the press office on July 13, using the email listed on the web site above. He gave a deadline of July 14 for a response to his questions.\n\nThe Scientist made multiple attempts to reach Carlos Martinez A, and it's unfortunate that those messages did not appear to reach him. We appreciate his decision to respond on our web site.\n\nAlison McCook\\n

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