Four win DNA sequencing research grants at WSU

By Terren Roloff, WSU Spokane

core-facilitiesSPOKANE, Wash.  – Four researchers at Washington State University recently received grants for their next-generation DNA sequencing projects through the Genomics Core Laboratory at WSU Health Sciences Spokane. Thirty-four investigators applied.

The lab, in collaboration with Illumina, Inc., provides sequencing-related services to WSU researchers and those outside the university. Illumina is a maker of gene-sequencing instruments and assays.

“The state-of-the-art facility is one of only two core sequencers in the WSU system and will make research much more convenient,” said Genomics Core manager Ben Liu of the recently established lab.

The lab is one of five new research core facilities at WSU Spokane. Nuclear magnetic resonance, mass spectrometry, microscopy and flow cytometry are the others.

Grant recipients will receive a free library prep kit (a set of reagents used to make DNA libraries) ranging in value from $500 to $10,000. Recipients are:

• Omar Cornejo, assistant professor in the School of Biological Sciences, who is researching how color is determined in the flamingo lily

• Weihang Chai, associate professor in the College of Medical Sciences, who will identify fragile sites in the human genome

• Kulvinder Gill, professor in the Department of Crop and Soil Sciences, who is studying plant height in bread wheat

• Salah-uddin Ahmed, associate professor in the College of Pharmaceutical Sciences, who is researching rheumatoid arthritis-associated biomarkers

Instruments in the Genomics Core, partially paid for by the Health Sciences and Services Authority of Spokane County, use Illumina next-generation sequencing to decode DNA and can sequence an entire human genome in one day. It took the Human Genome Project more than 10 years (1990-2003) to sequence one person’s genome.

“We are very appreciative of Illumina’s kind gesture as well as their assistance as we established the core,” Liu said.

For more information about all core research facilities, visit


Ben Liu, WSU Spokane Genomics Core, 509-368-6741,
Terren Roloff, WSU Spokane communications, 509-358-7527,