New genomics laboratory positions UNT at frontier of science

Researchers at UNT can now do DNA sequencing and more at their new Genomics Center.
Wednesday, December 14, 2016 - 09:33

DENTON, Texas (UNT) — A new state-of-the-art laboratory at the University of North Texas will advance next-generation research in genomics, one of the fastest-growing fields in modern science.

Part of the university’s BioDiscovery Institute, the Genomics Center provides in-house DNA sequencing, as well as computational and statistical analysis of genetic data. Genomics, the field of DNA sequencing, has broad applications for the health of humans, plants, animals and the environment.

“In a matter of years, DNA sequencing revolutionized science and our understanding of medicine and biology,” said Dr. Tracy Kim, director of the new laboratory. “An in-house genomics laboratory will enable UNT to gain biological insights and discovery, while contributing to this growing body of research.”

Scientists are using DNA sequencing to unravel the origins of complex and devastating diseases, develop highly personalized medical plans, improve breeding in animals and boost disease resistance in plants.

Sequencing involves determining the order of bases — chemical units represented by the letters A, C, G and T — within a strand of DNA. Slight modifications in the genome map can result in diseases, like cancer, developmental disorders or neurodegenerative diseases.

UNT researchers in biological sciences, mathematics, kinesiology, chemistry and engineering are using sequencing technology to help determine how probiotic supplements alleviate gluten intolerance, develop ways to improve blood clotting and bolster the amount of useful oils a plant can generate.

“This is a big step forward for Biological Sciences at UNT,” said Dr. Art Goven, Professor and Chair of the Department of Biological Sciences. “This facility will improve the turn around time for research and allow our faculty and students to customize their research questions to a greater extent.” 

Funding for the center, about $1 million in total, came from both private and government sources. Sequencing also will be available to outside groups for a fee.

Kim said the laboratory will enable UNT to work closely with business and industry leaders, while also giving students the opportunity to work in one of the newest frontiers of science.

 

“This will tie UNT to a growing industry that has countless applications,” she said. “It is wonderful for our students, who will get to experience the most up-to-date sequencing equipment available today.”

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