Important Message about Sanger Sequencing

April 21, 2022

For close to two decades, the UMN Genomics Center (UMGC) has provided on-campus Sanger sequencing services to the UMN research community. Though Sanger sequencing continues to have an essential place in life science research, we have decided that we will cease providing an on-campus service on or around July 1, 2022, as Sanger sequencing is now best served by outsourcing to a commercial provider. 

There are three reasons for this change. First and foremost, the UMGC needs to focus its attention and space on the most innovative technologies, in order to keep the UMN community at the forefront of genomics. Capillary array-based Sanger sequencing – a decades-old technology – is no longer cutting-edge. Second, it has become apparent that significant increases in our Sanger rates are necessary, which would result in us charging you more than commercial vendors who specialize in Sanger sequencing. Lastly, our ABI 3730xl DNA Analyzer is 17 years old, and we will not be able to affordably replace it when it needs replacement. Rather than facing a sudden disruption of services at such a point, we have decided to proactively shift users to commercial options.

The UMGC is working with three commercial vendors – Azenta (Genewiz), Eurofins, and ACGT – in order to ensure that our Sanger users have good options for outsourcing. A number of UMN labs already outsource their Sanger sequencing to one or more of these companies, and we will be sending out a survey to get feedback on their experiences.  We will be hosting public webinars with all three vendors for our user base in May, to help them introduce themselves to you. We have also connected these vendors to the UMN’s UMarket team, and encouraged them to put in place a “punch-out” portal to make ordering easier.

Given the commoditized nature of Sanger sequencing and the excellent reputations of these vendors, we are confident we will be linking you to fast turnaround times at competitive prices, with high-quality results, and on-campus drop-off locations (these vendors have all expressed interest in providing drop boxes on campus).

Note that although we are targeting a July 1 date for a transition, we will not cease Sanger operations unless and until a majority of our users have had time to connect with external vendors and have successfully transitioned to outsourcing. 

For more information and to ask questions and provide feedback:

  • Meeting: Join Dr. Kenny Beckman, Director of the UMGC, and the UMGC Sanger staff for an informational meeting about transitioning Sanger sequencing to a commercial provider on Wednesday, May 11th, from 11 - 11:30 a.m. You can register for this virtual meeting here
  • Survey: The UMGC would like to gather information from current and past Sanger sequencing users to help shape the future of Sanger sequencing for the UMN research community (i.e. location of drop boxes on campus, etc). You can provide your feedback or any concerns here
  • Webinars: The UMGC is arranging webinars with commercial vendors in mid-May. See our main Sanger webpage for details. 

As we work to outsource Sanger sequencing, we are reminded of the UMGC’s overarching mission: 1) to keep pace with the ever-broadening world of “omics” technologies, and 2) to expand our role at the University by focusing on cutting-edge, state-of-the-art instrumentation and custom services. By outsourcing our legacy and commoditized services, like Sanger sequencing, we will be better positioned to adapt to the continually evolving genomics landscape and provide you with the most current high-throughput, NGS-centric instrumentation. 

Thank you for your patience during this transition. We will continue to communicate updates with you over the next few months via email and on our main Sanger webpage, including more vendor details and dropbox locations. 

As a reminder, the UMGC will be closed from Monday, May 16th through Friday, May 20th. Please have Sanger samples in by Thursday, May 12th by 5:00 p.m. to ensure processing is completed by Friday, May 13th. Normal Sanger processing will resume on Monday, May 23rd. 

Kenny Beckman, Ph.D. 

Director, University of Minnesota Genomics Center

UMGC Sanger Sequencing Managers 
Operations Manager, Dinesha Walek 
Service Manager, Abby Schmitt