Unlocking the Code of Life

The Earth’s rich diversity of species and ecosystems has enabled us to thrive as a species. But through our actions, including climate change and other natural threats, that diversity faces serious challenges.

Some of our most pressing environmental and biological needs include:

Reversing the dynamics endangering species with extinction

Preventing the spread of invasive species

Monitoring, predicting, and mitigating the impacts of climate change

Predicting pandemics and other life-threatening disease outbreaks

Finding novel solutions to health challenges in humans, plants, and animals

Reducing food uncertainties

Promoting environmental health and the sustainable use of natural resources

Identifying innovative energy alternatives

Key insights for addressing these challenges lie within life’s genetic code.

All of Earth’s more than 12 million life forms are characterized by a set of genes or hereditary material that make up their genome. The Smithsonian’s Institute for Biodiversity Genomics will focus its research on characterizing and interpreting these genomes in order to gain a greater understanding of the natural world and the complex interconnectedness of its species and ecosystems.

By revealing the mysteries of these genetic blueprints, the Institute will provide scientists around the world with novel tools and insights that will help solve the problems that threaten our planet’s diversity of life. This initiative will also help train future generations of researchers, inspire citizen scientists, enable new technologies, and promote new approaches for the study and protection of our environment and ecosystems.