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EYE ON CHINA
China National Genebank and Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History collaborate on biobanking to advance biodiversity research
China National Genebank (Shenzhen), also referred to as “CNGB-Shenzhen”, and National Museum of Natural History (NMNH), U.S.A. jointly announced that they have reached a strategic agreement to promote biorepository and genomics research, as well as to enhance the mutual exchanges of experience in resource collection and sharing, infrastructure construction and information management.

Biodiversity is increasingly recognized as critical to human life, from genetic diversity within a species to diversity within entire regions or ecosystems. However, many species are more threatened than ever by urbanization, global deforestation, climate change, industrial agricultural expansion and other human activities. To achieve the stable and sustainable development, it is important for all of us to preserve the biodiversity of life on earth for future research and discovery.

As a leading collections institution and the most visited natural history museum in the world, NMNH’s collections total over 126 million specimens of plants, animals, fossils, minerals, rocks, meteorites, and human cultural artifacts. It also has traditionally taken on the role of supporting research through their collections, making them the natural leaders in the support of genomic research, such as the collaborative effort - Global Genome Initiative (GGI) - to preserve the genomic diversity of life on earth.

Under the agreement with NMNH, CNGB-Shenzhen established a Biological Resource Bank, an Information Database and a Network domestically and across the globe providing a powerful support for Omics-related scientific research and applications to promote the goals of biodiversity protection and sustainable development. With the approval and support of China National Development and Reform Commission and other national commissions, CNGB-Shenzhen was established in 2011, based on BGI-Shenzhen’s robust technology platforms and computational infrastructure to analyze and store the massive OMICS data. By January 2013, CNGB-Shenzhen has collected more than one million biological samples including tissues, cells, blood, bodily fluids etc.

The partnership between CNGB-Shenzhen and NMNH will utilize both their expertise so as to better improve the biodiversity preservation and research. Under the agreement, two parties also will conduct scientific collaborations on the establishment of laboratory and data standards, data management, and professional training and education. Moreover, CNGB-Shenzhen will be responsible for providing high-throughput digitalization and informatics analysis, and management for advancing applications.

Dr. Jonathan Coddington, Associate Director of Research and Collections at NMNH, said, “The Global Genome Initiative is a Smithsonian-led effort to preserve the genomic diversity of life on Earth. As part of this program, NMNH is extremely pleased to partner with the China National Gene Bank (Shenzhen) to preserve and study comprehensive samples of Earth’s genomic diversity. Together, we intend to support biodiversity genome science, to dramatically advance collection-based bioinformatics, to build the virtual, global biorepository, and to train the next generation of genomic scientists. We believe synoptic collections of quality genome samples will be an essential science infrastructure to address pressing human needs.”

Dr. Yong Zhang, Director of CNGB-Shenzhen, said, “It provides an unprecedented collaborative opportunity for NMNH and CNGB-Shenzhen to accelerate their growth, execute their global partnering strategy and support biodiversity research and development efforts. Combining two organizations’ world-leading expertise and extensive research experience in these fields, I believe we could seek more innovative solutions to better face the challenges of medical, environmental, energy, security, biodiversity protection and agricultural problems.”

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