Northeastern University physics Prof. Meni Wanunu has received an $825,000 award from the National Human Genome Research Institute (NHGRI)—an organization that supports the development of technologies to dramatically reduce the cost of DNA sequencing in an effort to broaden the applications of genomic information in medical research and health care.

In collaboration with Jonas Korlach at Pacific Biosciences, a company that uses a novel approach for optical sequencing DNA at the single-molecule level, the team will investigate the combination of the company’s technology with Wanunu’s nanopores. The combined technique could drastically reduce the cost of the company’s current, single-molecule, real-time (SMRT) DNA sequencing, as well as reducing the amount of DNA needed to the picogram levels.

“It’s exciting to think of the potential rewards of putting our heads together to solve a really important challenge that can revolutionize personalized healthcare,” said Wanunu. “In addition, integrating two technologies sometimes enables unforeseen applications and capabilities. I’ve always admired Pacific Biosciences’ cleverness in their technology, so much that we thought of something for making it better. I hope that with the generous R21 award from the NHGRI, the only exploratory grant awarded this year, we can make cool things happen.”

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