The National Advisory Council for Human Genome Research, which is a federally chartered committee that advises NHGRI on program priorities and goals, recently approved a comprehensive plan that identified two groups of new sequencing targets on the basis of their collective scientific merits.
"Our sequencing strategy continues to focus on identifying the sets of organisms with the greatest potential to fill crucial gaps in biomedical knowledge," said Mark S. Guyer, Ph.D., director of NHGRI's Division of Extramural Research. "The most effective approach we currently have to identify the essential functional and structural components of the human genome is to compare it with the genomes of other organisms."
Two of the sequencing projects are aimed at gaining new insights into model organisms utilized in research on drug development and disease susceptibility. They are: sequencing the genome of a fellow primate, the marmoset (Callithrix jacchus); and identification of genetic variations (in the form of single nucleotide polymorphisms) in eight strains of rats.
The marmoset is a key model organism used in neurobiological studies of multiple sclerosis, Parkinson's disease and Huntington's disease. The marmoset is also an important model for research into infectious disease and pharmacology.
The marmoset was chosen also because of its unique position on the evolutionary tree, one step further removed from humans than other non-human primates already being sequenced, such as the chimpanzee (Pan troglodytes), the rhesus macaque (Macaca mulatta) and orangutan (Pongo pygmaeus
Source:NIH/National Human Genome Research Institute