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'Impact on the Future'

Genomics, the European Bioinformatics Institute's Ewan Birney writes at PLOS Medicine, is composed of a set of broad "technologies that will have a lasting impact on the future."

In this year-end editorial, the PLOS Medicine editors asked eleven researchers about the state of their respective fields, ranging from genomics and cancer to mental health disorders and malaria treatment.

In his essay, Birney says that genomic sequencing has changed rare diseases, enabling diagnoses and discoveries. In addition, he says long-read sequencing and real-time sequencing are changing infectious disease monitoring, and have been used to study Ebola as well as urinary tract infections and sepsis.

New technologies are driving down the cost of sequencing, though "the sample management and informatics also have to be factored in," he adds.

That means "the question about personalized genomic data is not about whether these data will be freely available but rather how they will be integrated into the health care systems around the world," Birney says, noting that countries including the UK and US have plans to apply genomic data to healthcare.