Google, Venter mum on collaboration reports

Google and the J. Craig Venter Institute are playing down highly publicized reports of a collaboration reported in a recently published book.

David Vise and Mark Malseed wrote in The Google Story, published in November, that Google founders Sergey Brin and Larry Page and genome sequencer J. Craig Venter had started collaborating in the area of genetics research in early 2005.

However, asked to comment on those plans, both Google and the Venter Institute remained tight-lipped.

"Google has been exploring applications of our technologies to various scientific fields, including biology. We have no products to announce or information to share at this time," a Google spokesman wrote via e-mail.

"At the Venter Institute, there isn't a project under way of that nature that ran in David Vise's book, so we don't have anything to contribute at this time," said an institute spokeswoman.

Catalogue of genes

The concluding chapter of The Google Story is devoted to the Google founders' "ambitious long-term plans for Google's expansion into the fields of biology and genetics and the fusion of science, medicine, and technology."

Vise recounts discussions that both Brin and Page held with Venter in 2005 and that eventually led to Google making computing resources and engineers available to Venter.

"We need to use the largest computers in the world," Venter told the authors. "Larry and Sergey have been excited about our work and about giving us access to their computers and their algorithm guys and scientists to improve the process of analyzing data."

Venter described the collaboration's focus as generating "a gene catalogue to characterize all the genes on the planet and understand their evolutionary development," Venter told Vise.

"People will be able to log on to a Google site using search capacities and have the ability to understand things about themselves as they change in real time," Venter was quoted as saying in the book.

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