Billionaire doc teams with Oxford Uni to build 'NASA of biomedicine'

Dr. Patrick Soon-Shiong

Dr. Patrick Soon-Shiong has teamed up with the University of Oxford and others to further the United Kingdom's plan to build the "NASA of biomedicine." Some of the £141 million ($227 million) investment is earmarked for establishing computing infrastructure to support the U.K.'s genomics project.

The Chan Soon-Shiong Institute is allocating $15 million to buy and build equipment and data systems infrastructure that can cope with the rate of genome sequencing. A further $35 million has been set aside to Chan Soon-Shiong Oxford Centre for Molecular Medicine, a facility at which researchers will combine data from tumor samples with clinical records. The work will support clinical research at the co-located Precision Cancer Medicine Institute, which is receiving the rest of the funding.

New computing capabilities underpin the whole project. "The first thing that was needed was an infrastructure of data transfer which had never actually been considered on this planet before. So we had to actually create an infrastructure which could move all that data; this is now active," Dr. Soon-Shiong told Computing. The supercomputer has slashed the time taken to process data, a key consideration for a country that plans to sequence 100,000 genomes by 2017.

The U.K. government has committed $56 million to build the Precision Cancer Medicine Institute that will try to use data and other resources to improve the clinical trial process. Researchers at the center will focus on patients with early-stage forms of hard-to-treat cancers. Such patients will receive novel drugs alongside the standard of care. Proposed partners and financial contributors to the institute include GE Healthcare ($GE) and Roche ($RHHBY).

- here's Computing's article
- read Press Association's take
- and the press release

Special Report: Fierce's 10 top biotech billionaires - Patrick Soon-Shiong

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