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Environment

Genomics program shifts focus to bioenergy research

April 10, 2006 | APPEARED IN VOLUME 84, ISSUE 15

The Department of Energy is revising its Genomics to Life (GTL) program to concentrate on bioenergy research, with the objective of developing cost-effective, biologically based renewable energy sources to reduce U.S. dependence on fossil fuels. "We're very interested in using genomics to structure microbes to transform cellulose into ethanol," DOE Science Office Director Raymond Orbach told a House Appropriations subcommittee at a March 29 hearing on fiscal 2007 funding. Orbach said DOE would solicit proposals in the coming months for one or more centers for bioenergy research. The changes, Orbach noted, are based in part on President George W. Bush's Advanced Energy Initiative, which seeks a 75% cut in oil imports from the Middle East by 2025. The Administration wants to commercialize cellulosic ethanol by 2012. DOE had originally planned a suite of four GTL facilities, each with a different technological bent: protein production, molecular imaging, proteome analysis, and systems biology. As a result of the reassessment, Orbach said, DOE has canceled the funding solicitation it issued in January for the first planned GTL facility.

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