BGI, Children's Hospital of Philadelphia team on next-gen sequencing, bioinformatics

BGI, the Chinese company that claims to be the largest DNA sequencing outfit, has expanded its footprint in the U.S. With its new partnership with The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, BGI secured at least its second major tie-up with a major U.S. research institution in as many months.

The hospital has set up a joint genome center with BGI (formerly Beijing Genomics Institute) and plans to sequence DNA to get to the bottom of rare and common pediatric illnesses. The new center, which began operations last month and is being called [email protected], can tap the world's largest bank of pediatric biological samples at the hospital. BGI brings to the joint effort its dominant next-generation sequencing and bioinformatics capabilities, according to a release.

BGI has offered sequencing services to research groups for years, and recently the company has been forming close relationships with those groups through joint centers like the one it's formed with The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia. Last month, the DNA sequencing powerhouse set up shop on the medical center campus of the University of California, Davis, paving the way toward a joint genome center in Sacramento. Meantime, it's supporting a new "big data" journal that focuses on bioinformatics and strategies for managing the large amounts of genomic data produced with sequencing machines. 

BGI has ambitious goals to sequence the genomes of all types of life forms, but the big aim of the joint center in Philadelphia appears to be improving the health of kids.

"We look forward to a productive relationship with The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, a global leader in pediatric care and research," Greg Wang, CEO of BGI Americas, said in a statement. "Given BGI's expertise in genomic sequencing and bioinformatics, we expect our partnership with Children's Hospital and the establishment of the [email protected] Joint Genome Center to lead to significant breakthroughs that may be translated into improved patient care."

- here's the release