This year’s Bio-IT 2016 With Clinical Genetics as the Frontrunner

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This year’s Bio-IT conference – with theme Big Data – was clearly marked by the presence of clinical genetics: its data sharing, analysis, and interpretation challenges echoed throughout the many talks (and exhibit) whether it was Heidi Rhem’s opening plenary session or George Church’s genomics breakfast session, demonstrating that routine sequencing is within reach. Undoubtedly, there have been great developments in the software space in the past years, but scaling for massive genomics data still requires work! Interestingly, overlapping with Bio-IT 2016, the 13th International Congress of Human Genetics held in Kyoto further exemplified what was communicated Continue reading

At AGBT 2016, the Winners Are Long Reads and Whole Solutions

AGBT_logo_RGBThis year’s pilgrimage of geneticist, genomics scientists, and along with that commercial companies was to the JW Marriott in Orlando and not as usual to Marco Island – however, we were assured that the next two AGBT events are already confirmed to be held on Marco Island again. The Orlando Marriott setting seemed fine; nothing beats the Marco island environment with its beach setting which is well worth the extra hour bus ride from the airport to take you there. Having said this, the setting appeared to be more favorable for the vendors in particular, given the more open arrangement of large suites inviting easy access and interactions with conference attendees. Continue reading

The JP Morgan Healthcare Conference from Afar

This being an invitation-only conference, I had to follow the JP Morgan Healthcare conference from a distance. As we have witnessed in the past, exciting announcements happen here in San Francisco around or just before this annual conference and some of the news spark what eventually will become the big trends throughout the year. One could say it is a window to what is just around the corner in 2016.

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Obviously, Illumina made quite the splash with two separate announcements: (1) launch of the new company Grail – major co-investors include Bill Gates, Jeff Bezos, and others – focusing on pre-symptomatic cancer testing based on the hot liquid biopsy-based Continue reading

2015 – A Year of Health Initiatives, Commercial Milestones, Company Acquisitions, and Scientific Achievements

2015 was a fast moving and busy year in the many fields of science, next-generation sequencing, diagnostics, and of course precision medicine. A lot can be attributed to technological advancements particularly in next-generation sequencing which has shaped where we are today. Resulting applications are growing, building on major research findings, evident in the clinic and in industry achievements in areas of aging, obesity, the precision medicine initiative, diagnostics, the $1,000 genome, liquid biopsy, NIPT, new approaches towards breast cancer treatment, and much more.

PMiUnprecedented press clearly went to the purposeful Precision Medicine Initiative (PMI) with its launch at the State of the Union address by the President in early 2015. Since then this year has brought us a flurry of activities related to this prominent initiative: building an advisory committee to the NIH Director (ACD), the creation and approval of the ACD’s working group report, the announcement of initial funding opportunities, the
White House addressing and releasing Privacy and Trust Principles, the announcement of the 2016 budget, and last but not least the launch of the precisionFDA community platform at the end of the year.

Companies have reached new milestones. 23andMe, with a $1 Billion evaluation, has entered the drug discovery arena via building its own unit and large pharmaceutical collaborations that will mine their massive customer DNA database (>800,000). The Continue reading