The first team has officially registered for the Archon X Prize to unlock the secret of living to 100.
The $10m prize will be awarded to the first team that can accurately map the genome of 100 centenarians for $1,000 or less each.
Life Technologies Corporation registered for the prize, and will use the Ion Proton DNA sequencer developed by Dr Jonathan Rothberg.
The team, and any others who enter, will have 30 days to produce their results. Success would mark a remarkable advance, given the complete human genome was only mapped for the first time in 2003.
The intention of the prize is to try and understand what makes people live to 100 and beyond, and perhaps to find new ways to extend life.
However, Rothberg said that sequencing 100 genomes could only give a "hint" at the secret to long life.
He told the BBC: "Ten thousand will let you say, 'Hey, these are the genes involved in cancer or heart disease"
Robert Weiss, X Prize Foundation chairman, said success would be "revolutionary".
He said: "Through this competition, the X Prize Foundation is setting a very high standard for the industry to ensure that whole genome sequencing technologies are reliable, replicable and can produce diagnostic-quality results."
"We have been unwilling to compromise the criteria set for the Archon Genomics X Prize because the required levels of accuracy, speed and cost must be achieved to truly impact the field of genomics."