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Assembling the human genome and giving it away for free

Entrepreneurs looking to exploit the data collected through the Human Genome Project are to face stiff competition from a project designed to allow researchers around the world to access analysed and annotated genome information for free.

Andrew McLaughlin

LONDON, August 21. A project that aims to "put the genome on the desk top of biologists world-wide" has received a major funding boost of more than £8 million over the next five years. The Ensembl project is operating with an "open philosophy" to make the analysis of data supplied through the Human Genome Project available to biologists free of charge. Using specially developed software, the Ensembl database automatically sorts and identifies genes and other useful features of the data of interest to biologists and medical researchers.

"Ensembl is a wonderful way of transmitting genetic information clearly and quickly across the world," according to Dr Michael Dexter, Director of the UK's Wellcome Trust, which is supporting the project, "It is important that information is made available in the most user-friendly and complete way, and made available free of charge."

The Ensembl database, located at the Sanger Centre and the European...

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