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Stanford School of Medicine Launches Center for Genomics and Personalized Medicine

By a GenomeWeb staff reporter

NEW YORK (GenomeWeb News) — Stanford University's School of Medicine this week announced the creation of a new Center for Genomics and Personalized Medicine designed to integrate genomics information with every aspect of medicine, as well as draw on collaborations between Stanford's basic scientists and clinical researchers, and on technologies developed in Silicon Valley.

Stanford says the center will promote personalized medicine by building on research from the sequencing of the genome of Stephen Quake, the Lee Otterson Professor of Bioengineering and co-chair of Stanford's bioengineering department. Quake made news last August by using a technology he helped invent — Helicos BioSciences' Heliscope single molecule sequencer — to sequence and publish his own genome for less than $50,000. Researchers published results from their study of Quake's genome in the May 1 issue of the Lancet.

"The center blends highly efficient, rapid sequencing technology with the research and clinical efforts of experts in genomics, bioinformatics, molecular genetic pathology and even ethics and genetic counseling to bring advances from the laboratory to the patient," Stanford said in its announcement.

The center's director is Michael Snyder, chair of the medical school's Department of Genetics. In the statement, Snyder said the center's sequencing facility is already operating with new equipment estimated to increase its sequencing capacity by about fivefold while also "significantly" reducing the cost.

Earlier this year, Snyder led a team of researchers in sequencing the transcriptomes of human embryonic stem cells in various stages of their differentiation into neural cells, using short- and paired-end reads generated with Illumina sequencing and long reads generated with the Roche 454 FLX and Titanium platforms. They identified both known and previously unannotated transcripts as well as spliced isoforms specific to the differentiation steps.

The center's equipment also includes a Single Molecule Real Time, or SMRT, DNA sequencing system purchased from Pacific Biosciences. Stanford was one of 10 institutions that purchased the system as part of Pac Bio's early access program in North America. The company has said it expects to launch commercial sales of the system in the second half of this year.

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