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Trans-Omics for a better life

BGI Announces Global Innovation Center on West Coast

BGI, a leading global genomics organization, announced plans to create a West Coast Innovation Center to develop technologies and collaborative projects in life science, global health and related fields.

The BGI Global Innovation Center will be co-located in Seattle, Wash. and San Jose, Calif. to build an ecosystem of innovation in the two high-technology clusters and promote cross-sector collaboration.

Genomics are driving the most important discoveries of our time, delivering life-saving solutions across the globe. This includes securing our food sources, the preservation of biodiversity in the face of climate change, stemming the spread of devastating pandemics and revolutionizing cures for cancer.

Dr. Jian Wang, a pioneer in genomic science, co-founder and president of BGI, visited the West Coast to launch the center, while joining 130 of the world’s top business and technology leaders at the Microsoft CEO Summit. Wang also met with Washington Governor Jay Inslee, University of Washington President Ana Mari Cauce and UW Medicine CEO Paul Ramsey and Dr. Linda Buck, Nobel Laureate and researcher at Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center.

Washington Governor Jay Inslee and Jian Wang
Washington Governor Jay Inslee gave Jian Wang a painting of Mount Rainier that he painted himself

“The Center demonstrates BGI’s commitment to international collaboration and to aligning interests and partners to drive innovation,” said Wang, adding that BGI intended to support a number of research initiatives, such as precision medicine and population health efforts at the University of Washington.

“With the partnership between UW Medicine and BGI, more innovations in research, education and healthcare will be developed between Seattle and Shenzhen to benefit the health of people worldwide,” Wang stated.

University of Washington President Ana Mari Cauce and Jian Wang
UW Medicine CEO Paul Ramsey and Jian Wang

Wang met with business, health and technology leaders to share insights on key topics, such as:

· Genomics, climate change and preserving the world’s genetic heritage

· The rise of genomics to stem pandemics

· Precision medicine and big data

BGI’s Innovation Center received the endorsement of the City of Shenzhen, which is encouraging international collaboration among leading Shenzhen-based companies.

BGI acquired Complete Genomics, a Mountain View, CA-based sequencing technology company in 2013. Based on CG’s technology, BGI launched its proprietary high-throughput next-gen sequencers, BGISEQ-500 and BGISEQ-50 in 2015 and 2016 respectively in China.

BGI Called for Building Global Standards and Partnerships for Gene Industry at the UN Headquarters

Dr. Feng Mu, CEO of BGI, the world’s leading genomics organization, explained how genetics technology could help address some of the most pressing challenges facing humankind in the areas of health, medicine, food security, and biodiversity at the United Nations SDG Action Event on Innovation and Connectivity, held at UN Headquarters in New York on May 17. Dr. Mu introduced successful examples of BGI’s application of genetics technology in some of the remote or underdeveloped areas in China, and called for building international standards and consensuses for application of genetics technology and forming cross-border Public-Private Partnerships to harmonize efforts for the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

The SDGs are a set of 17 “Global Goals” spearheaded by the United Nations, aiming to end poverty and hunger, improve health and education, make cities more sustainable, combat climate change, and protect oceans and forests by 2030.

Dr. Feng Mu, a pioneer in genetics technology, elaborated on the effectiveness of cutting-edge genetics technology on solving world’s pressing issues. “Using DNA sequencing technology, BGI quickly developed virus testing kits during the outbreak of pandemics such as SARS and Ebola, effectively curbing the fast spread of virus,” he said. “Besides early detection of infectious diseases, we have also conducted more than one million cases of neonatal deafness testing in China which contribute to early intervention in early childhood for those with deafness gene,” he added.

According to the data from National Human Genome Research Institute, the cost of sequencing a human genome has declined from $100M in 2001 to $1K or lower in 2015 (DNA Sequencing Costs: Data: https://www.genome.gov/sequencingcostsdata/). “The drastic reduction in DNA sequencing costs is due to the rapid technological changes, which ‘keeps up’ with the Moore’s law and indicates the potential of exponential growth on genome science and technology application,” Mr. Dejian Yu, the executive vice president of BGI commented.

“Cutting-edge new technologies can only reach their fullest potential to benefit humankind and planet earth if implemented with a long-term vision and a sustainable development model,” said Ms. Ao Kong, BGI’s spokesperson and head of strategic communications and public affairs. She explained that BGI integrated its non-profit arm into the company’s main operational model, enabling the organization to build a high throughput sequencing platform, provide cost-effective genome-based solutions and conduct infrastructure and capacity building in places where BGI operates with its partners. “BGI is honored to share this model on the most prestigious world stage as a reference for more companies to integrate corporate social responsibility into their vision and business development.”

“The common wisdom would never imagine that innovative technologies could be adopted first in remote or underdeveloped areas, but BGI demonstrates a new way of thinking and operating by bringing genetics technology to stemming diseases in areas like Guizhou, Henan and Tibet in China and in countries along the Belt and Road,” Kong said.“From that experience we learn that defining and executing our own unique vision and building broad partnerships with mutual respect always pay back. That’s what fuels the fast growth of Chinese companies on the world stage. ”

Representatives from BGI: Ao Kong, Feng Mu, Dejian Yu

About Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)

The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), officially known as Transforming our world: the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development is a set of 17 “Global Goals” with 169 targets between them.

BGI Participates in Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation, Identifies Gene “Storage, Reading and Writing” as Important as High-speed Rail

The Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation (BRF) was held in Beijing May 14 and 15, 2017as the most important “host diplomacy” activity of China this year, and BGI was invited to relevant activities of BRF and the parallel session on think-tank exchanges. At the opening ceremony of BRF, President Xi Jinping delivered a keynote speech, declaring that we should build the “Belt and Road” into a road of innovation, intensify cooperation in frontier areas such as digital economy, artificial intelligence, nanotechnology and quantum computing, and advance the development of big data, cloud computing and smart cities, so as to turn them into a digital silk road of the 21st century. In the future he said China would enhance innovation cooperation with other countries, launch the scientific and technological innovation action plan for the “Belt and Road”, and carry out actions such as people-to-people exchanges in science and technology, co-construction of joint labs, cooperation in sci-tech parks and technology transfer.

Main sessions of the Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation (BRF)

BGI President Wang Jian pointed out in his speech at the parallel session on “think-tank exchanges” that gene “storage, reading and writing” was the cornerstone and engine of the life economy in the future, which could drastically improve the living standard of people from countries along the “Belt and Road,” and was as important as China’s High-Speed Railway (CHSR). Wang also expounded the effects of genes on genetic and infectious diseases through comparison between China and western countries in infant mortality, disability rate and average life span. “In the past, we addressed infectious diseases through microscopic observation of cells,” he said. “Now, we are solving problems of “birth, death, illness and old age” of mankind through gene detection. New breakthroughs in science and technology have created new demands and markets.”

Wang said BGI is willing to work with organizations concerned to build country-specific gene banks for countries along the “Belt and Road,” improve the scientific and technological level of these countries, promote cooperation in prevention and control of major diseases and agriculture, eliminate several major diseases, and improve connectivity of policies, facilities and people, allowing gene technology to benefit countries and people along the “Belt and Road.”

The recent BRF is the highest-level international conference on the “Belt and Road” Initiative China has hosted since it was proposed by President Xi in 2013. The forum attracted 29 heads of state and more than 1,200 representatives from over 100 countries and regions and promoted international and regional cooperation. The parallel session themed “think-tank exchanges,” organized by China Center for International Economic Exchanges (CCIEE), was attended by about 200 people from more than 40 countries, including principals of prominent think tanks, former politicians and well-known experts and scholars. CCIEE Chairman Zeng Peiyan and other guests addressed the opening ceremony.

Founded in 1999 and as a world-leading R&D and industrial organization, BGI has made all-round breakthroughs in gene “storage, reading and writing,” which support and guarantee gene technology to benefit countries and people along the “Belt and Road.” China National GeneBank, (CNGB) built and run by BGI, was put into operation in September 2016 and is the only approved national gene bank in China. At present, CNGB has initially built an integrated infrastructure of “Three banks and Two platforms.”CNGB has storedapproximately 10 million biological samples, and has built more than 40 databases, which store resources of about 300,000 plant species, a million animal species and nearly 10 million living microorganism species. BGI has successfully produced its own sequencers with the cost controllable and performance comparable with overseas products of its kind. BGI has implemented projects to benefit public welfare with full coverage of gene detection in a number of provinces and municipalities in China, making gene detection accessible to all.

China National GeneBank (CNGB)

After 18 years of progress, BGI is leading the development of genomics with its innovative model featuring integration of “industry, education and research.” BGI has established extensive cooperation with all parties in the industry chain via its branches in more than 60 countries and regions throughout the world, and it has applied scientific advances in cutting-edge multi-omics to fields such as healthcare, agricultural breeding and conservation of resources, with the goal of promoting commercialization of scientific breakthroughsin genetics and enablling gene technology to benefit mankind.

In healthcare, BGI’s experience in fighting SARS and Ebola can be replicated and popularized in countries along the “Belt and Road” to prevent and control major infectious diseases such as echinococcosis, tuberculosis, viral hepatitis and dengue fever. BGI participated in emergency management of national public health emergencies many times, completed the first genomic sequencing of SARS virus in China together with relevant partners and successfully developed the SARS virus ELISA KiT. During the escherichia coli outbreak in Germany in 2011, BGI was the world’s first organization to decode the complete genome of escherichia coli. After the outbreak of Ebola in 2014, BGI responded immediately, completed the sequencing of Ebola virusand provided reagents and sequencers for free to support detection of Ebola virus. In January 2015, BGI also participated in a program to aid Africa together with Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention and completed decoding of hundreds of Ebola virus genomes.

Meanwhile, BGI’s experience with millions of non-invasive prenatal tests in China can also be utilized in countries along the “Belt and Road,”and BGI can work with governments to carry out health surveys to prevent and control birth defects such as genetic mental retardation andhearing and visual impairment, and gradually eliminate genetic causes of such disabilities. Moreover, by building precision medical centers for cancers and applying gene detection plus pathological, image, immune and metabolic monitoring and sports and nutrition plans, BGI can achieve precision warning, diagnosis, treatment and rehabilitation of many cancers and increase the cancer survival rate to the level of developed countries.

BGI Joins Children’s Brain Tumor Tissue Consortium

The Children’s Brain Tumor Tissue Consortium (CBTTC) announced the addition of two new satellite member institutions located in China, including BGI.

The addition of The Beijing Tiantan Hospital Neurosurgery Center (BTHNC), located in Beijing and The China National GeneBank (CNGB), established by BGI in Shenzhen, increases the total membership of the CBTTC to 15 core and satellite member institutions located throughout Europe, Asia and the United States.

CNBG/BGI and the BTHNC have agreed to contribute genomic data collected from specimens of extracted pediatric brain tumor tissue, which will be uploaded into CAVATICA, a cloud-based platform developed by the CBTTC for collaboratively accessing, sharing and analyzing pediatric cancer data. In addition, BGI and CNBG will lead the recruitment of additional Chinese hospitals and will coordinate the execution of the CBTTC’s protocols from sample collection to big data analysis and clinical treatment, for CBTTC member sites in China.

"The new CBTTC member sites at Beijing Tiantan Hospital Neurosurgery Center and the China National GeneBank represent a giant leap forward in the collaborative, global effort to find cures and better treatments for pediatric cancer,” said Adam Resnick, PhD, Scientific Chair of the CBTTC.

"The China National GeneBank is proud to join CBTTC,” said Xun Xu, President of BGI Research. “We are looking forward to contributing our big data, genomic research capabilities and network of health care providers to advance the important work of the consortium in improving the outcomes and quality of life for pediatric brain cancer patients.”

BTHNC joins the CBTTC as the largest and most-renowned neurosurgical and center in China. Founded by Dr. Wang Chungcheng, a pioneer of neurosurgery in China in the early 1980s, Beijing Tiantan Hospital Neurosurgery Center provides a full range of adult and pediatric neurological surgery specialty services and performs more than 7,000 brain surgeries per year.

The Children’s Brain Tumor Tissue Consortium is a multi-institutional, collaborative research partnership dedicated to improving treatments and outcomes for children diagnosed with brain tumors. The nucleus of the CBTTC is a state-of-the-art biorepository and informatics portal, which allows researchers from all over the world to access high-quality genomic and clinical tumor data. The CBTTC is currently composed of 15 member institutions from around the world. For more information, visit cbttc.org.

BGI to Work with Broad Institute, Intel and Alibaba Cloud to Provide Free Access to GATK4 on BGI Online Platform

On May 24 at Bio-IT World Conference & Expo held in Boston, BGI announced that it will work with the Broad Institute, Intel and Alibaba Cloud to provide free cloud-based access to the latest version of the Genome Analysis Tool Kit (GATK4) software package on the BGI Online platform.

With this agreement, the GATK Best Practices pipeline will be available to users of BGI Online in China on Alibaba Cloud. The agreement also includes support of the well-established Workflow Definition Language (WDL) and the workflow execution engine Cromwell in the future version of BGI Online.

“As one of the world’s largest genome centers, we are delighted to see users in China and around the world get access to state-of-the-art genome analysis tools through the BGI Online platform,” said Xin Jin, Deputy Director of Research and Development Center at BGI and director of the BGI Online platform. “We are processing millions of samples each year through our own BGISEQ-500 sequencers. By providing the cloud-based solution, we can greatly expand access and accelerate both scientific research and clinical applications with cutting-edge genomics technology.”

"In our global effort to drive breakthroughs in human health, high-quality data is paramount,” said Eric Banks, Senior Director of Data Sciences and Data Engineering at the Broad Institute. “We want to help ensure that every researcher, scientist, and analyst has access to the best genomic analysis tools. We are pleased that GATK best practices will be used in the BGI Online platform.”

“BGI Online offering the newest version of GATK, including optimizations developed through Intel’s collaboration with the Broad Institute, means two of the world’s top genomics centers will use common open source tools,” said Jason Waxman, corporate vice president of the Intel Data Center Solutions Group. “This is a big step toward making state-of-the-art genomic data analysis available worldwide.”

“As one of the world’s leading cloud computing company, Alibaba Cloud looks forward to leveraging our data intelligence and computing power, and accelerating the development of bioinformatics. We are excited to be part of this collative effort in bringing GATK4 to Chinese users and making genome analysis technology more inclusive,” said Jin Li, Senior Director at Alibaba Cloud.

BGI Online is a powerful and secure cloud platform for genomics data analysis. The platform exploits the powerful computing and unlimited storage capabilities of Amazon Web Services and Alibaba Cloud. BGI Online provides easier and more effective solutions to institutions from data storage, automated analysis, and data delivery to project partnership and bioinformatics methods development. For more information please visit www.bgionline.com (Global) and www.bgionline.cn (China).