Seeking Answers to Critical Scientific Questions

The Smithsonian conducts research and collects samples from more than 100 countries, from the poles to the tropics. Our scientists are engaged in biogenomics studies to reveal the factors that contribute to species evolution and survival, uncovering ways to sustain the world’s coral reefs and forests, mitigate the impacts of climate change, and better understand invasive pathogens in populations of various mammals, amphibians, and songbirds.

We are researching some of our planet's most pressing issues:

Climate change: Our tropical forests are being stressed by rising temperatures and increased levels of CO2. Comparing the genomes and evolutionary history of these trees will provide insights on how they adapt to environmental changes, and which characteristics are important for their survival.

Infectious diseases: Diseases are contributing to the extinction of species worldwide. Smithsonian scientists are using genomic technologies to diagnose and study these pathogens to develop tools to better manage wild populations.

Species conservation: Poachers have eradicated the South American Red Siskin from most of its natural habitat. Technological advances in conservation genomics, including the development of more sensitive and precise tools, will help us track genetic diversity in a captive breeding program, and assess the potential of “bird friendly” coffee plantations as future reintroduction and recovery sites.

Ocean dynamics and health: Smithsonian scientists are using new metagenomic techniques—the bulk genetic analysis of organisms in environmental samples, such as soil or water—to understand marine ecosystem dynamics in degraded and recovering conditions.

The Smithsonian Institute for Biodiversity Genomics will:

Address the top scientific questions in evolutionary adaptation, phylogenetics, ecological processes, and conservation using novel genomic data.

Organize and lead a global effort to rapidly collect genomic-grade tissue samples of life on Earth.

Produce quality genomic data and analyses in coordination with partner organizations.

Provide long-term storage, maintenance, and preservation of genomic quality samples for conservation and analyses far into the future.

Transform the natural history sciences through greater integration of genomic approaches.

Advance computational science analyses of genomics data and associated metadata.

Help design, test, and facilitate expanded access to analytical pipelines and visual tools to more efficiently study and understand genomic patterns.

Serve as a portal for biodiversity genomic data to facilitate broad scientific and educational outreach and access.