The National Human Genome Research Institute (NHGRI), part of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), awarded a $6.5 million grant (over four years) to a team of Harvard University researchers to further develop electronic sequencing in nanopores. The grant is part of more than $20 million in total funding given by NHGRI/NIH to spur innovative sequencing technologies that are inexpensive and efficient enough to sequence a person’s DNA as a routine part of biomedical research and health care.

Daniel Branton, Higgins Professor of Biology Emeritus in the Faculty of Arts and Sciences (FAS), and Jene Golovchenko, Rumford Professor of Physics and Gordon McKay Professor of Applied Physics in the School of Engineering and Applied Sciences (SEAS) and Department of Physics, who lead the nanopore group at Harvard, will oversee the research.

The team is among several grant winners that are developing nanopores (holes about two nanometers in diameter) that may be able to recognize individual DNA bases by their electrical or ionic signals to achieve high-accuracy sequencing of individual DNA molecules.

The goal of the Harvard scientists is to design and optimize nanopore technology using novel electronic control and sensing methods to create a nanopore detector chip capable of sequencing a mammalian genome within a day on a single instrument.