News Details | 24-Sep-2013

Singapore research centre team members win US$1 million prize in US Department of Defense’s bioterror detection competition

A team from the Singapore Centre on Environmental Life Sciences Engineering (SCELSE) -  a Nanyang Technological University led partnership with the National University of Singapore - and from University of Tuebingen, Germany, has emerged tops in the first ever bioinformatics competition organised by the United States Department of Defense to identify organisms from a stream of DNA sequences for clues to potential biological threats.

Two researchers from SCELSE, Visiting Professor Daniel Huson from University of Tuebingen, and post-doctoral researcher Xie Chao (Life Sciences Institute, National University of Singapore), have collaborated with graduate student Benjamin Buchfink at University of Tuebingen to develop an algorithm that best meet the stringent criteria laid out by the Defense Threat Reduction Agency's (DTRA's) Algorithm Challenge.

The challenge issued by DTRA, a Pentagon agency, in January this year attracted entries from more than 2,700 individuals from around the world. 

The team’s success in clinching the US$1 million prize in this global competition which attracted entries from top universities and renowned research centres from around the world is a clear indication of SCELSE’s strength and leadership role in next-generation sequencing in areas including microbial genomics, evolutionary genomics, and metagenomics.

Participants of the competition are required to find a faster and more accurate way to identify the species and genes in raw DNA. With the rapid development of DNA sequencing technology, the challenge aims to inspire a highly accurate programme to detect potentially dangerous organisms in DNA samples quickly and efficiently.

SCELSE is a first-of-its-kind research institution that aims to harness the powers of complex communities of micro-organisms for environmental and water sustainability.

SCELSE is a S$120 million research centre co-funded by the Singapore government over the next 10 years under the Research Centres of Excellence (RCE) Programme.

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