"This grant represents the efforts of many colleagues around the world," Schook said. "We were very fortunate to be able to conduct research that provided the opportunity to assume this leadership position. Clearly this is a significant acknowledgement of the leadership of the genomics program at the University of Illinois."
The female, reddish-brown Duroc pig involved in the project was used by Beever and Schook to study genes that control growth and contribute to meat quality. Its DNA also was extracted, donated and cloned to develop genetic tools and biomedical models.
The USDA grant -- issued through its National Research Initiative -- also recognizes the success of the university's participation in the Livestock Genome Sequencing Initiative (LGSI), also funded by the agency, said IGB Director Harris Lewin.
"It's truly gratifying to have the USDA acknowledge the efforts of our LGSI and our national and international collaborators by selecting our proposal for funding," Beever said. "After many years of laying the foundation for sequencing of the pig genome, it is truly rewarding to see our dreams of a porcine sequence come true. This sequencing will have tremendous, long-lasting impacts on the continuum of science in animal agriculture and human health."