Advancements and Pronouncements: Are We There Yet?

Along with several hundred others, I attended the Advances in Genome Biology & Technology (AGBT) conference last month in Marco Island, Florida. Perhaps the biggest news from the conference came from Chief Technology Officer Clive Brown of Oxford Nanopore Technologies (ONT). Using a PR campaign lifted directly from Steve Jobs’ book of effective marketing strategies, the ONT website shut down prior to Clive’s talk and a new one went up just after the big announcement. Clive took a dramatic pause before saying “one more thing…,” then introduced their novel nanopore sequencing technology while the audience took notice of this potentially disruptive platform. Yet we’ve all heard announcements like this before.

ONT wasn't the only company with a seat at the conference table. I had a chance to sit down and talk with Scott Kahn, Chief Information Officer of Illumina; Jonathan Rothberg, President of Ion Torrent; and Cliff Reid, CEO of Complete Genomics. I appreciated the candid discussions on a topic near and dear to my heart – readiness to compete in the $10 million Archon Genomics X PRIZE presented by Express Scripts. Given the tremendous progress made in the sequencing world over the past decade, companies are quickly approaching the levels necessary to compete. Stay tuned!

One more thing... Attention all WGS labs! We’ve got the opportunity of a lifetime for you: an invitation to participate in the upcoming Public Phase of Our Validation Protocol and determine how your WGS performs relative to our competition criteria. Since our bioinformatics software will be developed in an open source format, everyone benefits! The more people get engaged in this exercise, the greater the benefit for the global scientific community. Visit our Scientific Community for details on how you can score your current WGS technology against our judging criteria.

Thanks for reading, and remember, your comments are always welcome.

Grant