The world is one step closer to exposing the secrets of pigs. The USDA's Cooperative State Research, Extension, and Education Service (CSREES) has issued a request for applications (RFA) to sequence the swine genome.

In January, Dr. Joseph Jen, Undersecretary for Research, Education, and Economics, and Dr. Anna Palmisano, Director of Competitive Programs, announced their intention to issue the RFA at a meeting of the international Swine Genome Sequencing Consortium (SGSC) that was held during the Plant and Animal Genome XIII Conference. Department officials have indicated that they expect a highly competitive, peer-reviewed process.

The $10 million included in the CSREES RFA is not necessarily the bottom line of the USDA's commitment. The Agricultural Research Service of the USDA has indicated that they would provide an additional $1-2 million for the project.

The Alliance for Animal Genome Research, the nonprofit organization that has led the fundraising efforts, praised USDA for outstanding leadership in getting the project underway. "When combined with his efforts in securing funding for the cow and chicken genome sequencing projects, Dr. Jen has made certain that we have a solid scientific foundation for advancing human and animal health and animal agriculture in the 21st century," stated Roger Wyse, chairman of the Alliance board.

"The pig has been an excellent biomedical model and the sequenced pig genome will help us gain a deeper understanding of a variety of human health issues such as obesity, diabetes, cancer, female reproductive health, cardiovascular disease, and infectious diseases," stated Larry Schook, U.S. chair of the SGSC and of the Alliance Scientific Steering Committee. Schook noted that with the swine genome sequence in hand, we will have the fundamental research platform that we need to begin to address effectively these vital human health issues.

Source: Association Release