Illumina CEO Jay Flatley on the Future of Genomics, Part 2
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pretty fast there. One of the goals we had in the early launch of our consumer program was to make that thinking go faster. So that when the technology could sequence everybody for $500, that we’re not then beginning to think about privacy and data management problems and regulatory issues. All of that gets pushed out of the way in advance of this becoming an enormous market. It’s moving really quickly. You see full conferences on consumer genomics. You couldn’t imagine something three years ago like a consumer genomics conference, yet here we are.
X: How is this really going mainstream? I noticed you had a release that said [the actress] Glenn Close said she’s gotten her genome sequenced. Are you encouraging people who are recognizable to go out on television, and talk to the public? This is genomics, which is not everyday dinner table talk, right?
JF: One of the challenges that companies like Illumina have is to figure out ways of abstracting the complexity of genomics. That’s what an iPhone app is going to do ultimately. It still doesn’t quite get where we want it to be. Even today, people say “Your doctor doesn’t know what this all means.” Sure, he doesn’t. But the truth today is that when a doctor orders a test today, if you ask them, “Describe how that test works,” he has no clue. Even if it’s an immunoassay. You could say “Tell me what the binding reaction is that gives you that result.” He has no idea. All he knows is that it comes back in some range. Whether it comes back in this range, or that range, he knows what to do differently with those two outcomes. That’s where we need to get with this. We’re a ways away from that. We have to abstract it beyond anybody having to understand what the genomic piece is about. What that’s going to require is another five years of compiling lots of genomes, figuring out what those reading means, and creating actionable data sets from that collection of genomes. That’s where we are headed in the next couple of years.
X: What’s your prediction on when we’ll get to the $1,000 genome?
JF: We’ve been a little cautious to not go too far out on a limb there, and it will matter a lot what you count. If you count bioinformatics, if you count sample prep, if you count data storage in the number. If you count it all, then it’s somewhere … Next Page »