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International Genomics Consortium, the Rise of Array-Based Diagnostics, Clinical Sequencing, More

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More than a decade ago, a lawyer and an oncologist joined forces to standardize how clinics collected, stored, and analyzed tumor samples. In the summer of 2000, the nonprofit International Genomics Consortium was born.

Arthur Holden, CEO and chairman of the international Serious Adverse Events Consortium, was one of the IGC's first advisors. In September 2002, Holden told Genome Technology that the consortium was a logical successor to the Human Genome Project and the SNP Consortium — a nonprofit for which he was CEO and chairman. Those two initiatives "created environments of [genotype] data that can be used and reused in research," Holden said at the time. "SNP data is just the letters, or the alphabet of genomics. It's not the words or paragraphs," he added. "That's why the IGC is so important. It establishes a platform ... where phenotypic and gene expression data can be reused."

In October 2010, the US National Cancer Institute awarded the IGC more than $37 million to serve as a Biospecimen Core Resource for The Cancer Genome Atlas project. Today, the lawyer and the oncologist who helped found the IGC, David Mallery and Daniel Von Hoff, remain on the organization's board — as president and senior clinical officer, respectively.

GT's September 2007 issue examined the rise of array-based diagnostics. At the time, Harvard Medical School's Heidi Rehm predicted that sequencing might eventually replace arrays as the go-to platform for diagnostic applications. "Someday it may become cheaper to just sequence your whole gene, even though you know all the mutations that you might find," Rehm told GT five years ago.

Array-based diagnostics also featured prominently in the September 2011 issue. Last year, Harvard Medical School's John Iafrate told GT that, in the cancer clinic, "we need to know as much as possible about every tumor, and array CGH allows you to get a whole-genome snapshot very quickly." He added, "The question will be, in the next few years, which is better — array CGH or next-gen sequencing for copy-number assessment?"

Researchers still debate the merits of arrays versus sequencing for clinical applications, though the latter approach has seen rapid uptake in the last 12 months alone, particularly for targeted investigations.

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