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When Will Software for the Genome Take Off? Find out Oct. 24

Xconomy San Francisco — 

Illumina CEO Jay Flatley memorably called the bioinformatics industry “road kill” in an interview with Xconomy about 18 months ago. But have new opportunities started to emerge for genomic software startups now that scientists are really, Really, Really! crying out for better software to manage the data deluge?

After all, isn’t the genomic data going to become truly overwhelming for scientists to sort through when whole human genomes, at 6 billion DNA data points apiece, can be obtained for a few thousand bucks and a few days of work?

This is one of the fascinating questions we’re going to dive into on October 24 at Xconomy’s next big public event in San Francisco, titled “Computing in the Age of the $1,000 Genome.” It will be part of a half-day forum hosted by QB3, the biotech startup incubator at UCSF’s Mission Bay campus, in Genentech Hall.

We have an awesome lineup of entrepreneurs who will appear smack in the middle of this conference, after we plan to kick things off with a keynote chat with Complete Genomics CEO Cliff Reid and PacBio CEO Hugh Martin. Here’s who you can expect to hear talking about the new opportunities in bioinformatics.

Rob Arnold, the general manager of the Geospiza division of Waltham, MA-based PerkinElmer (NYSE: PKI). Rob was previously the president of Geospiza, one of the longstanding survivors from the previous genomics/bioinformatics bubble period of the early 2000s. Geospiza made it through some lean years, competing against open source software, and built a big enough customer list to get acquired in May by life sciences tools giant PerkinElmer.

Andreas Sundquist, the co-founder and CEO of Mountain View, CA-based DNAnexus. Sundquist, who cut his teeth in computational biology during his grad school years at Stanford, has brought a decidedly Web 2.0, easy-to-use style to its offerings that are supposed to make it easier for average biologists to interact with all their genomic data. This year, he’s found a way to make DNAnexus software relevant to two of the Valley’s emerging sequencing players—Complete Genomics and PacBio.

Doug Bassett, the chief scientific officer of Redwood City, CA-based Ingenuity Systems, will be able to talk about his company has found a niche in crunching not just genomic data, but in connecting the dots with all the other relevant ‘omics data—proteomics, metabolomics, etc, and how it all might be useful for pharmaceutical R&D. Bassett knows what it’s like to try to separate the signal from the noise from the customer’s side of things—he was previously the executive director molecular profiling for Merck’s Rosetta Inpharmatics division.

—And last but not least on this panel is Ilya Kupershmidt, the co-founder and vice president of products for Cupertino, CA-based NextBio. This company has found a way to turn a profit by finding a way to pool genomic data from free public databases like those kept by the NIH, along with the private, proprietary data generated in-house at pharma and biotech companies. NextBio has assembled a prominent group of customers for this service, including Merck, Johnson & Johnson, and Pfizer, as well as academic leaders like The Scripps Research Institute, Stanford University, and the Sanford-Burnham Medical Research Institute.

I expect these guys to have lots of insights into how the market has changed for bioinformatics in just the last six months or so as sequencing has gotten much cheaper, and demand has gotten higher. And this is really just one aspect of the overall event, which will feature other great speakers on the medical and societal implications of all this work to generate genomic data and analyze it. You can get tickets here at the registration page. See you on the 24th.

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