Triumph Gulf Coast funding supports IHMC purchase of cutting-edge gene sequencer

IHMC is purchasing a new NovaSeq X Plus genetic sequencing device that will help elevate the Institute’s footprint as a regional hub of excellence in human performance research. 

IHMC will be among the first labs in the country to have the newest version of this device, which allows for next-generation sequencing capacity to better understand genetics, genomics, epigenetics, and transcriptomics.  

NovaSeq X genetic sequencer

IHMC is purchasing a NovaSeq X genetic sequencer to support its human performance research. Credit: Special to IHMC.

“The information contained in our genes and how they are activated and regulated is extremely important in understanding risks of disease, along with differences between individuals and the responses of each person to a treatment or exposure to stress,” says Dr. Marcas Bamman, Senior Research Scientist and Director of Healthspan, Resilience, and Performance Research at IHMC. “Scientific advances resulting from such a capability are truly game-changing because the information gained will help us optimize approaches to healthspan, resilience, and ultimately human performance.” 

The ability to perform sequencing analysis of both RNA and DNA is foundational in biomedical sciences, however, the tools to perform this analysis typically are found at major biotechnology research hubs or in private industry locations.  

“With IHMC being among the first institutions to acquire the device, we will not only be among the leaders in the field; we also will be in a position to offer this advanced tool in collaboration with other scientific partners,” Bamman says. 

The ability to conduct this level of research in-house will also reduce IHMC’s dependency on other labs, and the associated subcontracting of awarded funding.  

“This places IHMC in much higher demand for collaboration on future funded research programs,” said founder and CEO Ken Ford. “We are all very excited to receive this new device and begin tapping into its capabilities.” 

Ryan Tilley, IHMC’s director of strategic program execution and innovation, said the $1.5 million purchase is supported by funding from Triumph Gulf Coast, a nonprofit corporation created to manage the funds from the settlement of the BP Deepwater Horizon 2010 oil spill disaster. 

“Triumph’s mission is to use the proceeds of the BP settlement to support projects that provide a transformational impact to workforce and entrepreneurial efforts, as well as expanding and diversifying the economy of our region,” Tilley said. 

Creating a biotechnology and human performance research hub in Northwest Florida has profound benefits not only to the economic health of the region, but also to the intellectual capital that can be nurtured and expanded here because of those investments.  

“We are proud that Triumph sees IHMC as a leader in this effort and we are grateful for their support,” Tilley said.  

Illumina, the company that developed the device, delivered the first of these sequencers to the Broad Institute at Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Harvard University in February of 2023. The company plans to ship more than 300 instruments in total this year, according to the company. 

IHMC is a not-for-profit research institute of the Florida University System where researchers pioneer science and technology aimed at leveraging and extending human capabilities. IHMC researchers and staff collaborate extensively with the government, industry and academia to help develop breakthrough technologies. IHMC research partners have included: DARPA, the National Science Foundation, NASA, Army, Navy, Air Force, National Institutes of Health, IBM, Microsoft, Honda, Boeing, Lockheed, and many others.