We all have 3 billion chemical units of DNA in each of our cells, and scientists say they will soon be able to unravel our unique genome sequences for $1,000 or less. Since genes get dialed up or down at different points in life, when we are healthy or diseased, scientists want to sequence our genomes many times to track changes through life.
But in an ocean of data this immense, how in the world will computer scientists find what’s really important to an individual’s health? How will the Northwest’s big infotech companies help scientists store, analyze, visualize this bewildering amount of data? When will the average patient start to see benefits from the long-promised era of personalized medicine?
I’m getting ready to ask questions like those, and more, at Xconomy Seattle’s next big event “Computing in the Age of the $1,000 Genome.” This gathering will be on Monday afternoon, February 7, at Swedish Medical Center’s Cherry Hill campus. I’ve put together a program designed to maximize interaction between the speakers and the audience. That means there will be time for Q&A, and no time for PowerPoint.
The event will start with a fireside chat I will moderate between a couple fierce competitors in the faster/cheaper sequencing world—Cliff Reid, the CEO of Mountain View, CA-based Complete Genomics (NASDAQ: GNOM) and Eric Schadt, the chief scientific officer of Menlo Park, CA-based Pacific Biosciences (NASDAQ: PACB). Then we’ll have a panel discussion with three entrepreneurs with different takes on computational biology, moderated by a venture capitalist with a lot of experience in the field—Rowan Chapman of Mohr Davidow Ventures.
Following a networking break, we’ll re-convene with a panel that brings together key people at Northwest tech giants that all have ideas on how to profit from the opportunity in gene sequencing. Deepak Singh of Amazon Web Services, Jim Karkanias of Microsoft Health Solutions, and Paul Rutherford of EMC’s Isilon Storage Division will talk about how they see this landscape evolving in a panel moderated by Tim Hunkapiller, a Seattle-based consultant with Life Technologies, who was recently called a “Pillar of Genomics” by GenomeWeb.
Then we’ll close things out with what it sure to be a lively fireside chat. I’ll moderate a conversation with Leroy Hood of the Institute for Systems Biology and Bob Nelsen of Arch Venture Partners. Hood, as many Seattleites know well, has spent the past few years describing his vision for “P4 Medicine.” Nelsen—someone who’s unafraid to speak his mind in public—will offer his thoughts on where this field is heading. He’s been watching this phenomenon for years, as his firm has invested in the market leader in faster/cheaper gene sequencing, San Diego-based Illumina (NASDAQ: ILMN) and the Icelandic genetic research operation deCode Genetics.
Only a few tickets remain for this special event, so it’s best to reserve a seat now rather than try to get one at the door. We will have a couple other special features at this event, including an educational exhibit from the folks at the Northwest Association for Biomedical Research, which should be fun and interesting. See you there on Monday.