OSU Seeks Genome Project Funding

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benniethebeaverOregon State University’s affable mascot Benny the Beaver is not usually seen pumping up scientists with his fantastic dance moves and extremely deliberate hand signals. But after some genome-hungry scientists get through with him, Benny might start rocking a lab coat.

Scientists at Oregon State University are taking to the Internet to look for $30,000 in funding to start and finish the genome project for the American beaver.

A genome project is defined as “a scientific endeavor that ultimately aims to determine the complete genome sequence of an organism.” In layman’s terms, a genome project looks into an organism’s DNA to better understand how and why that organism functions the way it does.

Sequencing the human genome was a scientific achievement that helped unlock some of the mysteries of our DNA and of human biology as a whole. It was a massive undertaking that took 13 years, the backing of government officials and the greater science community, and approximately $3 billion.

Genome projects have been done for numerous beings on our planet and they have all led to a greater understanding and appreciation for the crazy science that flows through us day after day.

Benny’s kin is one of many species without a genome project, and OSU’s Center for Genome Research and Biocomputing is looking to change that by sequencing Filbert the Beaver’s DNA. A crowd-sourcing campaign, not unlike the kind you’d find on Kickstarter, has been started to raise the $30,000 that the center is looking to use for “reagents, reagent kits, sequencing costs, and technician time directly utilized in sequencing Filbert’s DNA and RNA.” Filbert is Benny’s stand-in for this experiment because, spoiler alert, Benny is as much a beaver as I am Robert Downey, Jr.

There are “prize tiers” that range from handwritten thank you notes to the ability to name one of the newly discovered genes yourself, so donate before the end of the month to find out what’s inside our beavers.


For more information or to donate, head to https://create.osufoundation.org/project/619.

By Nathan Hermanson

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