国家基因库Na­tional Gene Bank

China Pictorial (English) - - Buzzwords - Edited by Li Zhuoxi

Af­ter five years of com­mit­ted ef­fort, China an­nounced the open­ing of its first na­tional gene bank in Septem­ber 2016. The in­sti­tu­tion is the largest of its kind and the fourth in the world af­ter the Na­tional Cen­ter for Biotech­nol­ogy In­for­ma­tion of the United States, DNA Data Bank of Japan, and Euro­pean Bioin­for­mat­ics In­sti­tute.

Con­trast­ing its three fore­run­ners, the Na­tional Gene Bank of China (NGBC) fea­tures not only data preser­va­tion but also sam­ple stor­age. It has been re­ported that NGBC has es­tab­lished ties with many for­eign in­sti­tu­tions, in­clud­ing state-level nat­u­ral his­tory mu­se­ums, and the Sval­bard Global Seed Vault in Nor­way. In the fu­ture, it will serve as a plat­form for pub­lic ser­vices and open its sam­ple and data re­sources to var­i­ous par­ties in ac­cor­dance with rel­e­vant rules.

As far as hu­man DNA is con­cerned, NGBC mainly pre­serves sam­ples of blood and tis­sues as well as cells and urine, and pro­vides sam­ple sup­port for the prospec­tive study of se­ri­ous dis­eases, lay­ing a solid foun­da­tion for di­ag­no­sis, pre­dic­tion and per­son­al­ized med­i­cal ser­vices.

In terms of non-hu­man re­sources, the bank pri­mar­ily stores tis­sues and cells of rare an­i­mals of great eco­nomic value. It also pre­serves plant, ma­rine and mi­cro­bial re­sources in an ef­fort to col­lect all in­for­ma­tion that could be valu­able for fu­ture re­search.

“We want to build the world’s largest data­base for biological in­for­ma­tion—like a Google for life health data,” de­clared Mei Yonghong, di­rec­tor of the NGBC.

It’s hard to beat the magic of a boat cruise down an an­cient wa­ter­way along­side fish­er­men row­ing into the set­ting sun. Wa­ter­front houses with flower gar­dens greet passersby nav­i­gat­ing un­der cres­centshaped bridges cross­ing the canal as dusk en­gulfs the fi­nal mo­ments of the day.

Such a spec­ta­cle her­alded the be­gin­ning of my sum­mer jour­ney through a won­der­land of tra­di­tional Chi­nese crafts, mu­se­ums and folk­lore in Wuzhen.

A wooden house fac­ing the wa­ter caught my at­ten­tion, re­mind­ing me of a nav­i­ga­tional canal called Nal­lah Maar that my grand­fa­ther often men­tioned in his tales. That canal, which was the lifeline of old Sri­na­gar, con­nected a la­goon to the fa­mous Dal Lake.

Archived im­ages of the canal show tourists flock­ing to the wa­ter­way and boat­men of­fer­ing rides on the crys­tal clear wa­ter past rows of old Per­sian style houses with flowerbeds.

Sto­ries of the canal, which was gone by the time I was born, mes­mer­ized me as a child. My stroll through Wuzhen awoke those child­hood mem­o­ries that had long been hid­den un­der a pil­low.

Lo­cated at the cen­ter of the six an­cient towns south of the Yangtze River, 17 kilo­me­ters north of the city of Tongx­i­ang, Wuzhen dis­plays China’s his­tory via an­cient stone bridges, stone path­ways and del­i­cate wood carv­ings.

Renowned Chi­nese writer Mao Dun was born in Wuzhen, and his best-known work, Lin’s Shop, de­scribes the life in the town.

Wuzhen is di­vided into six tra­di­tional dis­tricts: work­shops, lo­cal-styled houses, cul­ture, food and bev­er­age, shops and

Gene se­quenc­ing work­ers at the Na­tional Gene Bank of China sta­tioned in Shen­zhen, Guang­dong Prov­ince. NGBC has stored 10 mil­lion gene sam­ples so far. In the fu­ture, more banks will be es­tab­lished to gather biological data and liv­ing biological sam­ples and

A street in Wuzhen.

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