VA partners with Cambridge startup for genomic analysis of 1 million U.S. veterans

Courtesy of the U.S. House of Representatives

Seven Bridges is on a roll. In February, the genomic analysis startup nabbed a $45 million Series A. It's already working with massive genomic data efforts with the U.S. National Cancer Institute's Cancer Genomics Cloud pilot, the Genomics England 100,000 Genomes Project, the National Institutes of Health and undisclosed pharma partners.

Now, the Cambridge, MA-based company has nabbed a deal with the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs to work on its massive Million Veteran Program (MVP), which aims to build one of the largest medical databases on the role of genes and health by creating a database with more than one million U.S. veteran volunteers.

Seven Bridges is slated to develop large-scale, cloud-based data analysis, dubbed Hybrid Cloud, for the MVP project, as well as a Genotype-Phenotype Graph Analysis Engine. The Hybrid Cloud project aims to set up a framework for the distribution of data, metadata and jobs, as well as to establish the basis of permissions and specific datasets. And the Analysis Engine is expected to offer software and algorithms to synthesize existing genomic data and phenotypic information into a unified data structure.

"Some MVP data will always need to be on local infrastructure, while some can be processed remotely for faster and more cost-effective analysis," said U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs Program Manager Jennifer Moser in a statement. "Seven Bridges is building the software to link these two environments, so that researchers can ask biological questions and perform reproducible and shareable analysis as rapidly as possible."

The startup is one of only two corporate collaborators with R&D partnerships on the project, the other being massive industrial conglomerate Lockheed Martin ($LMT), which recently nabbed a Cooperative Research & Development Agreement (CRADA) with the VA's Office of Research and Development to expand its existing data security role on the project that it's held since the project's 2011 inception.

"With this engine, we're expanding on the expertise we built with the United Kingdom's 100,000 Genomes Project, with a cohort that will grow to an order of magnitude larger," summed up Seven Bridges President James Sietstra.

He continued, "To work with data this large, new analysis structures like our graph-based suite of tools are needed. We are thrilled to have been chosen for this important initiative, and look forward to collaborating with the VA to develop better and faster ways to process, analyze and learn from the wealth of genomic data being collected from participating veterans."

- here is the release
- here is the Lockheed Martin announcement