BGI in the News
BGI is proud to have been featured in many leading media.
50 Disruptive Companies 2013 – MIT Technology Review February 20, 2013
A Genetic Code for Genius? – The Wall Street Journal February 15, 2013
The World’s Top 10 Most Innovative Companies in China – Fast Company February 11, 2013
Inside China’s Genome Factory – MIT Technology Review February 11, 2013
BGI Clears Hurdle in Buyout of Complete Genomics – FierceBiotech January 1, 2013
U.S. Clears DNA Firm’s Acquisition by Chinese – The New York Times December 30, 2012
Top 7 News Features | 2012 Year in Review – BioTechniques December 28, 2012
366 days: Nature’s 10 People Who Mattered This Year- Nature December 19, 2012
China’s Sequencing Powerhouse Comes of Age- Science February 3, 2012
DNA Sequencing Caught in Deluge of Data- The New York Times November 30, 2011
For Help on Path to Personalized Medicine, Philly Taps Beijing- Forbes November 11, 2011
China Is Rewriting the Book on Genome Research – Newsweek April 24, 2011
Author: Marisha Wojciechowska-Shibuya (Senior International Editor at MaximsNews)
UNITED NATIONS – / MaximsNews Network / 10 April 2011 — BGI continues to take the scientific world by storm, and as a testament to the place it has carved out for itself among the global scientific community, some of the world’s leading genomics scientists descended upon Shenzhen, China last November to contribute to the 5th International Conference on Genomics (ICG-V 2010), co-organized by BGI, University of Delaware, University of California San Diego, Boyce Thompson Institute of Plant Research, Cornell University, Institute of Oceanography and Chinese Academy of Sciences.
“Life is sequence. Life is digital”, chants Dr. Huanming Yang in his opening speech. The visionary co-founder of BGI, whom along with his brother in arms, Dr. Jian Wang, 11 years ago plunged out of the Chinese Academy of Sciences in pursuit of their wild dream to build a premiere genetics research laboratory in China and participate in the 1999 Human Genome Project.
The dream has become reality: from a humble lab facility located in an inconspicuous brick house on a non-descript Beijing back street in 1999 from which they contributed 1% of the Human Genome Project, BGI now headquartered in Shenzhen, has grown into what is being crowned as the largest DNA sequencing centre in the world, soon to house 128 Illumina HiSeq 2000 sequencing machines that are ran, computerized, and analyzed on-site by a 3000-strong army of young Chinese engineers, bio-informaticians and genetic researchers (average age = 23).
“This is not a cheap Made in China toy that we offer here” admonishes Dr. Jun Wang, BGI’s president, from the podium, seemingly habituated to sceptic onlookers’ impressions of Chinese scientific abilities, as he proceeds to outline what might be termed the BGI creed: “If it’s tasty – sequence it. If it’s useful – sequence it. If it’s cute – sequence it.” And sequence, BGI has: having sequenced the tasty millet crop, the useful silkworm and the cute panda bear, among other in-house R&D projects.
And the ripples BGI’s scientific/technological feat is sending out into the world’s scientific community are palpable as one crosses the wide-eyed gaze of leading genetic researchers whose wildest research dreams are suddenly jolted into the realm of the possible, here in Shenzhen.
The massive volume of resources, both financial and human, which BGI pools in both its Chinese and Hong Kong operational facilities, is enabling them to offer unprecedented low-cost genetic sequencing services to researchers across the world. And with BGI outposts sprouting virtually every other month in other regions of the world (Europe, North America, Africa to date), soon BGI DNA-sequencing capability will likely be coming to a location near you.
BGI’s secret: The exacting discipline of “scientific development” and disruptive innovation, built upon a people-centered approach, which senior managers say is based on trust and tolerance. And, speed, mass, youth and brainpower. At world competitive production cost.
“The field of genome analysis has undergone a revolution in the past few years. Next-generation sequencing technologies have dropped the cost of sequencing a human genome from about $1 million in 2007 to less than $10,000 in 2010” according to Dr. Kevin Davies’ presentation abstract, author of the new book The $1,000 Genome.
“What was unimaginable in the past is now possible and is only limited by our fantasies” remarks Dr. Lars Bolund, professor of clinical genetics at the University of Aarhus, one of BGI’s earliest and steadfast scientific advisors.
The technological capacity which has been installed at BGI is helping to push back the frontiers of science, by accelerating the sequencing process and driving down its cost, with immeasurable repercussions in the fields of medical research, agriculture/nutrition, environmental conservation and bio-energy. Such capacity may well signal a paradigm shift in genomics research; “from hypothesis-driven to data-driven” underscores Dr. Jun Wang in his presentation.
Another effect is that genome biobanks which have been sitting idle in storage for years from lack of technical capacity and financial constraints are coming out of the closets and are about to yield inestimable pieces of information on health conditions such as, genetically-inherited chronic diseases, e.g., cancers, Parkinsons, diabetes, autism, among others.
If one is to believe the scientists sitting around the room, we are closer than ever to offering ‘personalized healthcare’ to patients, based on their personal genetic sequence.
Although, a word of caution: we are still a far cry away from all walking around with our ‘genetic bar code’ in our pockets. And while the technological capacity of DNA-sequencing has been revolutionalized, knowing a disease’s DNA sequence, while being a significant step closer, is not yet assurance of a cure.
And what is to be said of humanity’s unfathomable challenges, such as, world hunger, water security, poverty alleviation, climate change, infectious diseases? What can all this fancy new techware contribute to such ills?
“We must help make the world a better place. To do this we must rely and support young scientists and ensure open collaboration and exchanges across the globe, ” states Annie Wu, Member of the Standing Committee of the China Peoples’ Political Consultative Conference and Vice Chair of the World Trade Centers Association, in her opening keynote speech.
“The ultimate mission of genomics is to create a comprehensive and finely detailed mosaic of how living things are assembled and function. As this understanding grows so does our ability through multi-sectoral partnerships to find solutions to some of the greatest problems that plague human beings and our planet and to uncover opportunities to build a more inclusive, more wonderful and more harmonious world for all,” says Fred Dubee, Honorary Professor and Senior Advisor at BGI.