Fact Sheet: DOE Office of Science to Revise Plans for Genomics:GTL Facilities; Plans to Issue New Solicitation for GTL Bioenergy Research Centers


Plans to Issue New Solicitation for GTL Bioenergy Research Centers

The Department of Energy’s Office of Science announced today that it is revising its plans for the deployment of new research facilities to support its Genomics:GTL program. The decision to reshape plans for the new GTL research facilities comes in response to the President’s recently announced Advanced Energy Initiative and a review of the GTL program by the National Research Council (NRC) of the National Academies.

Begun in 2000, the Office of Science’s GTL program supports advanced research in systems biology aimed at harnessing the powers of the microbial world to produce abundant and clean energy, absorb carbon dioxide, and transform radioactively contaminated waste.

The specific goal of the new facilities plan will be to accelerate GTL systems biology research in the area of bioenergy, with the objective of developing cost-effective, biologically based renewable energy sources to reduce U.S. dependence on fossil fuels.

The Office also said the new facilities plan, to be based partly on recommendations from the NRC panel, should be able to accomplish the GTL program’s objectives more rapidly and at reduced cost.

As part of the reassessment, the Office of Science has cancelled its Funding Opportunity Announcement (FOA) for a planned GTL Facility for the Production and Characterization of Proteins and Molecular Tags, issued in early January. The Office of Science plans to issue a new solicitation in the coming months for one or more centers for bioenergy research. Centers focused on systems biology research into carbon sequestration and bioremediation are also being considered for future years.

The NRC committee report provided a strong endorsement of the Office of Science GTL program, recommending that the program’s focus on systems biology for bioenergy, carbon sequestration, and bioremediation be given a “high priority” by DOE and the nation. But the report also recommended that the program’s plan for new research facilities be reshaped to produce results earlier and more cost-effectively.

The Office of Science had planned a suite of four user facilities, each with a different technological bent – protein production, molecular imaging, proteome analysis and systems biology. Since the original GTL facilities plan was formulated, GTL’s energy mission has increased in priority. In particular, the President’s Advanced Energy Initiative has mandated a strong focus on bioenergy, with an emphasis on producing research results that will help reduce the Nation’s dependence on fossil fuels.

The NRC committee recommended that the GTL facilities should be focused not on particular technologies, but on research underpinning particular applications – bioenergy, carbon sequestration or environmental remediation. Drawing on the NRC recommendations, the Office of Science is formulating a plan for one or two vertically integrated centers with a focus on bioenergy research. The Office believes that these centers can be operational at a date earlier than the originally planned Facility for the Production and Characterization of Proteins and Molecular Tags. The Office of Science plans to issue the new solicitation soon.

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NOTE: For more information about the Genomics:GTL program, please visit its web site at http://doegenomestolife.org/.