UC Davis announces major research project at new gene lab

Posted: July 12, 2012 at 7:15 pm

UC Davis today announced a major genetics research project to be carried out at its new gene laboratory in Sacramento.

The study, involving the DNA of 100,000 infectious microorganisms, is one of the first major projects to be undertaken at the nine-month-old BGI@UCDavis genome lab.

The lab is a much-ballyhooed partnership with BGI, a Chinese research institute. The DNA lab, which was announced last fall, is expected to create 200 jobs and invigorate the Sacramento area's tech sector.

Under the five-year project announced today, Davis researchers will work with Silicon Valley's Agilent Technologies and three federal agencies: the Food and Drug Administration, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and Department of Agriculture.

The idea behind the project is to improve food safety and develop new diagnostic tools. Researchers at the lab, located at the School of Medicine in Sacramento, will examine pathogens such as salmonella, listeria and e. coli.

"This landmark project harnesses UC Davis' partnership with BGI, a world leader in genomics, to mine information about the most deadly foodborne pathogens," said the university's vice chancellor for research Harris Lewin in a press release. "It will revolutionize our basic understanding of these disease-causing microorganisms."

Agilent is contributing several hundred thousand dollars in funding. In return, it will get an advance look at the fruits of the research, which will eventually be made public.

"This is huge, this is a really big deal," said Paul Zavitsanos, manager of global food safety at Agilent.

He said Agilent had already been working on food-safety issues at Davis' veterinary school and Robert Mondavi Institute for Wine and Food Science. Conducting research at the DNA lab is "a logical extension," he said.

The federal agencies will contribute various bacterial strains to the project.

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UC Davis announces major research project at new gene lab

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