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Core Labs' Embrace of Next-Gen Sequencers Surprises Some

NEW YORK (GenomeWeb News) — Results of an informal survey at a recent meeting of core directors surprised some attendees when they heard that around half of the directors participating in a panel discussion workshop said they have already acquired a next-generation sequencer or are currently mulling their options.
“Each platform has its particular strengths and weaknesses, so it is not such a cut and dry decision to make,” Bob Steen, director of the biopolymers facility in the department of genetics at Harvard Medical School, told GenomeWeb Daily News sister publication In Sequence by e-mail earlier this month.
Steen, who attended the workshop at the Northeast Regional Life Sciences Core Directors meeting at Cornell University earlier this month, added that the high cost of the sequencers means that most core labs get just one shot at picking the right machine.
“No one wants to pay a half-million dollars and end up with the next Betamax of next-generation sequencers,” he said.
But that hasn’t stopped many core facilities from placing their bets. The Cornell meeting attracted more than 130 core directors from various disciplines from almost 60 institutions in 18 US states and Quebec, according to some estimates. Around 30 directors attended the workshop, and roughly half of them raised their hands when asked who has bought a next-gen sequencer or plans to in the near future.
Some attendees were surprised to see so many labs bringing in new sequencing technologies so soon. “It was surprising how many raised their hands,” said Paul Morrison, director of Molecular Biology Core Facilities at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, who moderated the panel and workshop. “I don't want to miss out on this technology but I will still be taking a pass on it for at least a few more months.
Other vendors "might come up with something that works a little better,” Morrison said. “The whole technology, especially what the researcher expects and receives as data, needs to mature."
Another fence-sitting attendee was Lee Ann Schein, director of the Robert Wood Johnson Medical School DNA core facility at the University of Medicine and Dentistry in New Jersey, who said “the technology is still so new that I would like to wait a few months until all of the machines are in use by cores.”
Schein said her facility is interested in acquiring a next-gen sequencer, but “the price makes it prohibitive at this time.” By absorbing her peers’ experiences, she said she “can learn the real-life pros and cons about each platform.”

A comprehensive version of this article originally appeared in In Sequence, a GenomeWeb Daily News sister publication.

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