The Rat Genome Sequencing Consortium announced in September that it had reached a major milestone: the three billionth base pair. From February to September 2001, researchers from this public and private collaboration surged forward to collect the first genome's worth of Rat DNA data at an average pace of 15 million bases per day. Using both shotgun sequencing techniques and the clone-by-clone method, the group is surging to cutting the coverage time in half. Richard Gibbs, director of the Baylor College of Medicine Human Genome Sequencing Center, in Houston, which heads the project, says the rat's importance to pharmacological and genetic studies on cardiac diseases related to hypertension "will rocket the rat ahead as an experimental model for these disorders." A notable discovery thus far is that the rat appears to possess about 48,000 genes. Funded by the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute and the National Human Genome...

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