Cognizant lands IT deal with 100,000 Genomes Project

Genomics England's David Brown

Genomics England has picked Cognizant ($CTSH) to help design and set up the IT backbone of its massive sequencing project. The two-year agreement gives Cognizant a starring role in the creation of the IT operating environment used by the 100,000 Genomes Project.

A flurry of deals over the past year have given Genomics England access to IT vendors that can make sense of sequencing data, but none of these agreements have helped with the equally significant task of pulling together each element of the project. Cognizant has come on board to help with this task, notably by providing end-to-end systems integration and analytics services for the IT platform Genomics England has put in place. Genomics England is hoping this will simplify the complex task of managing and analyzing the clinical, laboratory and health data at the heart of the initiative.

The proper handling of the data is vital to the smooth running and long-term success of the ambitious population-scale sequencing program. "Combining genomic sequence data with medical records is a ground-breaking initiative," David Brown, head of informatics infrastructure at Genomics England, said in a statement. It is also a task that observers have viewed as a potential stumbling project for the project since its got started, especially given the U.K. healthcare system's history of overspending and underdelivering on big IT projects.

Cognizant is a relatively recent entrant into the U.K. public sector outsourcing services sector, having bought its way into contention for contracts through the 2010 acquisition of PIPC. A deal with the Financial Services Authority followed a year later, giving Cognizant a track record of working with the public sector without the history of failure associated with some rivals that have won healthcare IT contracts in the past. The public sector experience, paired with life science know-how, helped Cognizant to land the Genomics England deal.

"We selected Cognizant for its extensive life sciences capabilities, knowledge of research, management and analysis of clinical data sets, and experience in working with the U.K. public sector organisations," Brown said.

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