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Genome Korea in Ulsan Launched

November 24, 2015

- The largest scale Personal Genome Project in Korea to sequence 10,000 people and patients -

ULSAN, KOREA - Nov 25, 2015 -  

The Ulsan 10,000 Genome Project, entitled the “Genome Korea in Ulsan” has been launched in Ulsan Metropolitan City on the 25th of Nov. 2015. The consortium includes the Ulsan Metropolitan City, Ulsan National Institute of Science and Technology (UNIST), Ulsan University Hospital, and the University of Ulsan.


This is a large-scale publicly-funded genome project in Korea, with the estimated funding of ~25 million USD by 2019(not fully acquired yet). The goal is to map complete genomic diversity of Koreans, constructing standardized gene variation database, detecting rare genetic mutations, and providing well-annotated full genome information for growing genomic industry of Korea. The consortium will seek necessary funding from public and private sectors to achieve its goal of sequencing all the Koreans in the next decades. The initial 10,000 samples will be collected from both healthy people and immunocompromised people.


The project’s practical aim is to develop an industrial foundation in genomics for future biomedical industry. Ulsan, known as the capital of Korean industrialization, has a well established industrial infrastructure. The consortium will facilitate developing new sequencing and analysis technologies to achieve personalized medicine in Korea. This project is complementary to Korean government’s on-going Multi-ministry Genomics Initiative which has started in 2013 with a total sum of 500 million USD for 8 years to carry out human, agricultural, and medical genomics projects.


Genome Korea is in collaboration with Harvard Medical School’s Personal Genome Project (PGP), led by Professor George Church who developed key genome sequencing and editing technologies for decades. UNIST and Harvard Medical School will sign an MOU for the Ulsan 10,000 genome project.


Genome Korea is a participatory project where volunteers donate blood samples and personal and clinical information. Korean PGP project, led by Prof. Jong Bhak at UNIST have already published over 50 high quality individual genomes with the Korean reference genome assembly, funded by Korean government. Ulsan’s 10,000 genome is the first large scale public project that will expand to the whole Korean population which is similar to 100,000 UK genome and US president Obama’s 1 million genome project.


Ulsan mayor, Mr. Ki-hyun Kim, emphasized the significance of Genome Korea in Ulsan project by addressing “We aim to make Ulsan as the hub of genomic industry in Asia and beyond by linking it to diagnostic and therapeutic medical industry as a key Korean economic industrialization driving force”.


UNIST president, Prof. Mooyoung Jung has an ambitious plan to make this Ulsan 10,000 genome project, by raising the technology level to “the world top level innovative research by analyzing 10,000 people genomes at UNIST”.


“Korea's aging population is growing at a rapid pace. We, therefore, need genome industry to lower the medical cost and prevent national scale infectious disease endemic analyzing genomes and associated omics information. This must be accompanied by the commercialization of the technologies” and “Genome project can function as the seed of future biomedical revolution in business and society”, says Prof. Jong Bhak, the lead researcher of this project.


Ulsan is the most industrialized city in Korea which hosts global business cooperations such as Hyundai, SK, and Samsung. Ulsan’s main industry has been mostly heavy industrials such as car manufacturing, ship building, and oil refining. Currently, Ulsan plans to develop new high-tech industries such as biomedical devices, reagents, new materials, energy storage, and information technologies. Ulsan 10K genome is a part of such an effort to recruit skilled labor and highly value-added business entities.


UNIST is a new science and technology university in Korea established by the government in 2009.