Dear colleagues in the Schisto research community,
I thought it appropriate contact you to tell you about progress on the
NHMRC of Australia Medical Genomics proposal I submitted earlier this year
to sequence at the Australian Genome Research Facility in Brisbane about
10-15Mb of the S. mansoni genome. Many of you will recall I dicussed this
at the Schisto Genome Network meeting earlier this year. My pre-proposal
was considered by NHMRC and of 63 applications it was selected as one of
23 to be vetted by the NIH. Of the 23, 11 were prioritised and my proposal
is one of the eleven for which a full proposal has been requested. I
understand 4 will be funded so I am hopeful. I submit the proposal by
November 24th and will know the outcome by end of 2000.
I wrote the proposal as a consortium type application on behalf of the WHO
Schistosoma Genome Network with Phil Loverde, Leda Cummings, Ray Pierce,
David Johnstone and Sergio Verjovski-Almeida as the other main chief
investigators. The project is for genomic sequencing and analysis only, no
library construction because the plan was to rely on Ray Pierce's existing
BAC clones and the new BAC libraries to be constructed by Leda/Phil as part
of an NIH proposal that is currently under consideration.
Just to extend this, as many of you will know, Dave Johnston has applied to
Wellcome Trust under the Beowulf/Sanger program and he has been asked for a
full proposal and I read in Nature that the Sao Paolo consortium led by
Andy Simpson that sequenced the Xylella fastidiosa genome (much coverage in
Nature and other journals including Time) is now interested in sequencing S.
mansoni. Sergio is part of the Sao Paolo consortium.
So the end-product of this is that if all goes to plan that we could have 5
groups linked to major sequencing facilities working together as a
consortium on the S mansoni genome. This will of course be necessary
because of the large size of the genome. I thought you might be interested
in the latest developments as if we can get these projects underway it will
have a major impact on all our research as all the data will be available
to everyone. In order for this application to be successful, we must
demonstrate that there is appropriate UK and international research
community support for the project.
I am therefore writing to request that you send to me, letters or faxes in
support of the project. If at all possible, please reply by fax, on headed
notepaper, rather than by email . The final proposal must be submitted by
November 24th, so an early response would be appreciated.
A suggested format for the letter is below, please feel free to use this
format "as is", or to edit it, or to provide a letter of your own format.
Thank you, in advance, for your support. This will benefit us all.
Prof Don McManus,
Molecular Parasitology Unit,
Queensland Institute of Medical Research,
300 Herston Road,
Dear Professor McManus,
I am writing to express my support for your application to the Australian
NHMRC Program in Medical Genomics for a project to generate 15Mb sequence
as Australian input into the International Consortium Initiative to
sequence the genome of the serious human pathogen, Schistosoma mansoni, the
agent of schistosomiasis. This disease is a major cause of morbidity in the
world. It ranks with malaria and tuberculosis in that regard. Up to 300
million people are infected with schistosomes. The infection is endemic to
76 countries where over 600 million people are at risk. Approximately 10%
of the infected individuals present with severe disease.
The project complements work by the international consortium
the Schistosoma Genome Network) who have already secured funding or have
applications for support pending to various agencies. The immediate aim of
the consortium is to sequence circa 25% of the S. mansoni genome as a
critical stepping stone to sequencing the genome in its entirety. This will
have a significant impact in promoting further understanding of parasite
biology and the design of strategies to control and treat schistosomiasis.