Seed World

Texas A&M AgriLife Research Genomics and Bioinformatics Services Getting New Home


Genomics and Bioinformatics Services, part of Texas A&M AgriLife Research, is relocating and expanding to accommodate growing needs in human, plant and animal genomic research.

The new facility, located at 1500 Research Parkway in the Centeq Building in College Station, will provide over 6,000 square feet of state-of-the-art sequencing facilities and office space. Construction will be complete in spring of 2019.

Building on its recent partnership with PerkinElmer, the new facility will utilize state-of-art gene sequencing and robotic technology in servicing Texas A&M University System faculty and scientists across the globe.

“This renovation and expansion will allow the lab to go from processing 50,000 samples a year to more than 150,000 samples annually, putting Texas A&M University and Texas A&M AgriLife Research at the forefront of technology,” says Charlie Johnson, director. “We have also been recognized by PerkinElmer as a Center of Excellence.”

The new laboratory will feature an advanced climate control system and glass panels throughout to allow visitors and students to view the activities throughout the lab. Cloud-based data will be stored in a new server facility. The lab also features the latest DNA sequencing technology.

Johnson’s team of seasoned senior scientists have worked with faculty across the Texas A&M System, providing sequencing and bioinformatics support for grants dedicated to genomic research over the last eight years totaling $135 million.

“Currently, we have an annual operating budget of $4 million, primarily from research grants and other collaborative research projects,” Johnson says. “Over the last 24 months we have seen a large increase in number and scale of projects. This reflects the growth of genomic research across Texas A&M.”

Johnson says he anticipates the lab growing at a greater rate along with improvements to operations and additional hiring this year.

“We focus on providing quality data for Texas A&M faculty,” he says. “What we do may seem easy with all of the sophisticated technology, but it’s not. It is time consuming and challenging considering the enormous amount of data that is generated and processed. In much the same way that landing an aircraft on a ship is routine for the U.S. Navy, sequencing has become common place, but it still requires considerable skill and experience to consistently generate quality results.

“What took 13 years to sequence the first human genome in barn-like rooms filled with machines, we can now sequence 48 human genomes in 48 hours on one machine,” Johnson says. “We live in exciting times and the future only looks brighter for sequencing and genomics research across Texas A&M with our new lab coming online in early 2019.”