Genomics England picks 10 firms for next round of bioinformatics talent contest

Professor Tim Hubbard

Genomics England has dropped two-thirds of the candidates to provide variant annotation and clinical interpretation services to the 100,000 Genomes Project after reviewing the first round of responses. The initial cull leaves 10 companies including Illumina ($ILMN), Lockheed Martin ($LMT) and Qiagen ($QGEN) still in the running to win the business.

Professor Tim Hubbard, head of bioinformatics at Genomics England, and his team picked the 10 firms from a field of 28 after assessing their responses to a questionnaire sent out in February. Genomics England also sent the service providers BAM and variant call format (VCF) file for 10 cancer/normal samples and 15 rare disease trio samples. Congenica, Diploid, NantOmics, Genomics Ltd, Illumina, Qiagen, Lockheed Martin, NextCODE, Omicia and Personalis sent the best responses.

"This first assessment was extremely useful in determining the current capabilities of potential service providers," Hubbard said in a statement. The 10 companies will now advance to the next stage of assessment as Genomics England works to establish the IT systems needed to support its massive sequencing plans. Large-scale sequencing is due to start in the coming months as Genomics England works toward its goal of mapping 100,000 whole genomes by 2017.

Given the scale and duration of the project, Genomics England isn't completely shutting out the 18 service providers that were dropped in the first round of assessment. "We anticipate continuous improvements in interpretation ability and will therefore be evaluating new and revised services throughout the 100,000 Genomes Project," Hubbard said.

- read the release

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