Genome Center Targets Disease at the Genetic Level


Since the North Texas Genome Center opened in spring 2018, researchers have sequenced more than 100 DNA genomes, bringing science closer to heading off genetically related health conditions.

The center, a research and medical lynchpin at The University of Texas at Arlington (UTA), features two NovaSeq6000 gene sequencing systems, which is the most powerful line from Illumina, the world-leader in genome sequencing technology. As one of the only a few centers in the central United States featuring NovaSeq6000s, the NTGC, a partnership between UTA and Texas A&M University, has the capacity to sequence more than 10,000 whole genomes annually.

In their genomic analysis, researchers have taken steps to identify rare genetic variants underlying human diseases, have identified genes and patterns of gene expression that may cause brain and nerve regeneration, and have identified a link between ethnicity-specific expression of regulatory genes that may be important for personalized cancer treatment.

“Going forward, we will develop the [genome center] as a hub to connect academic research with clinical medicine to catalyze discovery, innovative treatment, and personalized medicine that is relevant regionally and globally,” says Jon Weidanz, founding director of the center and UTA’s associate vice president of research. “Our work could break down barriers to personalized and precision medicine related to the acquisition and analysis of Big Data genomics.”

The Genome Center is working toward achieving accreditation under the Clinical Laboratory Improvement Amendments and the College of American Pathologists. Receiving those regulatory accreditations will allow the center to provide sequencing of patient genomes for clinical and diagnostic purposes and introduce new innovations into DFW health care while broadening the center’s existing research-based mission, according to Weidanz.

This article is part of the 2020 Higher Education Review Magazine.