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Illumina Challenges Bioinformatics Community to Craft Novel Software for Next-Gen Sequence Analysis


Illumina this week launched a competition that is “designed to challenge the scientific community to develop creative visualization and data analysis techniques” for interpreting next-generation sequence data.

The company began making data available for the Illumina Data Excellence Award, or iDEA, challenge on June 15 and is accepting entries through March 15, 2011. The dataset was developed from Illumina sequencing instruments and includes RNA-seq, directional RNA-seq, small RNA, DNA methylation, and genomic DNA from a series of breast cancer cell lines.

Participants must register under one of two main categories: academia and industry. In each category, judges will evaluate entries under three sub-categories: most creative algorithm, most creative visualization, and both most creative algorithm and visualization.

Each entry has to include a written abstract describing the software and plans to implement it, a description of what’s novel about the software, and illustrations, graphics or examples. The company also said that software does not have to be functional to qualify for entry.

According to Illumina, judges will be looking for novel ideas and broadly applicable software, as well as entries that utilize the variety of data types produced on Illumina’s sequencing platform. Entries that work with Illumina’s data formats or do not require significant reformatting to work with Illumina datasets are preferable.

One overall winner will be chosen from each of the two main categories. The overall winner from academia will receive $50,000 to further develop the winning software while the overall winner in industry will be offered a one-year co-marketing package with Illumina. The most creative algorithm and most creative visualization in each field will receive recognition awards.

Award winners will be announced at an iDEA conference in June 2011.

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