Genomic analysis startup scores VA contract for major study

Veterans affairs sign
Department of Veterans Affairs (JeffOnWire/CC BY 2.0)

Personalis emerged from the crowd of new genomic analysis outfits with news of a contract from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). The giant chain of hospitals for military vets has tapped the Menlo Park startup for DNA sequencing and analysis in the VA's massive Million Veteran Program, which aims to discover genetic links to disease.

With scientific support from Stanford University experts, Personalis took off less than two years ago to aid medical and biotech researchers in analyzing huge amounts of DNA data. The company launched around the same time as scores of other companies such as Knome, Cypher Genomics and Ingenuity have raced to the market with similar services.

Now Personalis has won the VA contract, and one that focuses on the high-profile Million Veteran Program that has garnered headlines since its launch in 2011. Personalis has subcontracted the heavy lifting of DNA sequencing and genome-scale genotyping to genomics giant Illumina ($ILMN), while the startup tackles the variant calling, annotation and analysis required to identify any abnormalities and disease-related genes in the sequencing data. The VA is expected to provide Personalis with samples to complete the work.

"The VA's MVP has the potential to be the largest and most important medical sequencing effort in the world," Personalis CEO John West said in a statement. "We are thrilled that the VA has chosen Personalis for the DNA sequencing and analysis on this project. Our emphasis is on delivering an accurate and comprehensive sequencing solution for the VA."

Personalis didn't reveal the amount of its VA contract in its March 12 press release, and FierceBiotechIT was unable to reach company representatives early this morning for more details. We'll update the story after we learn more.

- here's the release