Illumina signs biobank deals to fuse genome data, EMRs

Illumina ($ILMN) has signed deals to genotype the sample collections at four biobanks. Each of the projects is aiming to build a repository of linked genotypic and phenotypic data, with the sequencing results generated by Illumina being paired to electronic medical records (EMRs) possessed by the owners of the biobanks.

Vanderbilt University, the University of Colorado at Denver, Partners HealthCare and Montreal Heart Institute are the four biobanks to sign up to work with Illumina. The specifics of each project vary somewhat from biobank to biobank, but each initiative is underpinned by a desire to improve healthcare and drug research by unlocking the information contained in samples. In total, the first wave of work at the biobanks will genotype north of 200,000 samples, half of which are accounted for by Vanderbilt University.

The Nashville, TN-based university is involved with President Obama's Precision Medicine Initiative, the genomics-driven project that plans to tap into sequencing data held by organizations across the U.S., and teaming up with Illumina is part of its commitment to the scheme."Our BioVU biobank is at the core of a vision that will combine genome variation, biomarker data, patient EMR information and pharmacogenomic data to advance personalized medicine," Vanderbilt University Genetics Institute and Division of Genetic Medicine Director Nancy Cox said in a statement.

Cox and her team will use Illumina's Mega Ex genotyping array and DNA sequencing capabilities to support the initiative. The other three biobanks are to make use of products from Illumina's Mega portfolio, too, as well as RNA sequencing tools and DNA methylation arrays. Partners HealthCare, a biobank that supports Massachusetts General Hospital and Brigham and Women's Hospital, will use the RNA and DNA products as part of a push to analyze 25,000 samples. 

- read the statement