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DeSouza's Illumina Plans

Illumina's sequencing platforms have powered a number of companies and research institutions, keeping it a little bit behind the scenes despite its ubiquity, but Fast Company writes that that's about to change.

"We spent a decade selling instruments to researchers who are experts and understand genomics," incoming CEO Francis deSouza tells Fast Company's Christina Farr. "Now we're seeing applications take off, which is a much bigger market for us."

DeSouza, who will soon take over the top job at Illumina from Jay Flatley, has a five-year plan to bring the company's sequencers into doctor's offices. To that end, the company has recently moved into the prenatal genetic testing field and is pursuing tests for cancer and for use in forensics, Farr adds.

"We're at a pivotal point right now," deSouza says. "We have to deliver more than instruments."

Illumina has also begun to spin out companies like Helix, a consumer genetics firm, and Grail, a firm focused on developing sequencing-based screens to detect early-stage cancer.

As Farr writes, deSouza envisions a future in which genetic testing for disease or for ancestry is far more common. And Illumina, by providing the machines and the tests, will be even bigger. "As we look ahead, so many companies are looking to add a genetics component," he says. "In five years from now, Illumina will touch people's lives in so many ways."