JCVI: The J. Craig Venter Institute to Aid Asiatic Centre for Genome Technology to Establish New Genomics Facility
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Press Release 11-Jul-2007



The J. Craig Venter Institute to Aid Asiatic Centre for Genome Technology to Establish New Genomics Facility

The program will also provide for in-depth training of Malaysian scientists on new tools and techniques of genomics

ROCKVILLE, MARYLAND, U.S.A. AND KUALA LUMPUR, MALAYSIA — July 11, 2007 — The J. Craig Venter Institute (JCVI) today announced an agreement with the Asiatic Centre for Genome Technology Sdn Bhd (ACGT), a center that focuses on the application of genome technology to improve oil palm and other crops, to help ACGT establish a new genomics research facility in Malaysia. The JCVI will also provide hands-on training for Malaysian scientists.

"As part of the Venter Institute's mission to advance the science of genomics through education and training worldwide, we are excited to work with ACGT to build their new genomics facility," explains J. Craig Venter, Ph.D., chairman and president of JCVI. "Genomics holds the key to solve so many worldwide issues including developing new sources of cleaner energy. Coupling our knowledge and expertise about genomics with ACGT's expertise in the oil palm should enable the scientists of Malaysia to become leaders in this promising field.

Through the agreement JCVI will help ACGT establish a state-of-the-art genomics research facility, develop standard operating procedures, and will provide other technical assistance for the genomics center. In November 2006 ACGT was awarded the BioNexus Status by Malaysian Biotechnology Corporation Sdn Bhd (BiotechCorp), a government agency under the Ministry of Science, Technology and Innovation (MOSTI) set up to promote and accelerate the biotechnology industrial development in the country. 

ACGT is led by Dr Cheah Suan Choo, a recognized Malaysian oil palm genomics expert who is credited as co-inventor of three patents on oil palm genes and genetic markers. ACGT established a laboratory at the Technology Park Malaysia in Kuala Lumpur early this month and has begun its research and development activities. ACGT is a wholly owned subsidiary of Asiatic Development Berhad, an oil palm plantation company listed on Bursa Malaysia (Malaysian Stock Exchange) and a member of Genting Group.

"This collaboration is an international effort to create a platform for training and developing Malaysian scientists in the field of high-throughput genomic sequencing and bioinformatics," said Tan Sri Lim Kok Thay, Chief Executive of Asiatic.  "We are confident that the development of such expertise will expedite ACGT's efforts to improve the productivity of oil palm and other crops."

About the J. Craig Venter Institute

The J. Craig Venter Institute is a not-for-profit research institute dedicated to the advancement of the science of genomics; the understanding of its implications for society; and communication of those results to the scientific community, the public, and policymakers. Founded by J. Craig Venter, Ph.D., the JCVI is home to approximately 500 scientists and staff with expertise in human and evolutionary biology, genetics, bioinformatics/informatics, information technology, high-throughput DNA sequencing, genomic and environmental policy research, and public education in science and science policy. The legacy organizations of the JCVI are: The Institute for Genomic Research (TIGR), The Center for the Advancement of Genomics (TCAG), the Institute for Biological Energy Alternatives (IBEA), the Joint Technology Center (JTC), and the J. Craig Venter Science Foundation. The JCVI is a 501 (c) (3) organization. For additional information, please visit http://www.JCVI.org.

About Asiatic Development Berhad

Asiatic Development Berhad ("Asiatic"), a 55%-owned subsidiary of Genting Berhad, commenced its operations in 1980 as the plantation arm of the Genting Group.  Over the years, the Asiatic Group had embarked on several significant acquisitions in Malaysia, thus increasing its land bank from a mere 13,700 hectares in 1980 to nearly 66,000 hectares currently.  In line with its long term strategy, the Asiatic Group had, in June 2005, further expanded its operations to Indonesia, on a joint venture basis, to develop some 98,300 hectares.  The Asiatic Group also owns 5 oil mills with a total milling capacity of 235 tonnes per hour and is reputed to be one of the lowest cost palm oil producers with fresh fruit bunches production of over one million tonnes.  For more information, visit www.asiatic.com.my.


Heather Kowalski
Kowalski Communications

Tan Wee Kok
Asiatic Development Berhad

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