The guilty party who killed five people and caused widespread disruption last fall by sending anthrax through the mail is still at large. But the next time bioterrorists strike, they might find it harder to elude capture owing to a technique called "forensic genomics" in development at The Institute for Genomic Research (TIGR) in Rockville, Maryland. The new approach, which could aid bioterrorism investigations and also have wipespread applications in medical diagnostics, was described Tuesday by Steven Salzberg, TIGR's chief of bioinformatics, at a Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) symposium on "Biological Challenges to Humanity."

TIGR was drawn into the anthrax-mailings case in October 2001 at the behest of the National Science Foundation (NSF) due to the institute's expertise in gene sequencing and the fact that, at the time, it had nearly finished sequencing the DNA of the familiar Ames strain of anthrax.

With a $200,000 NSF grant, TIGR...

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