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Broad Institute, Beijing Genomics Institute Each Add Double-Digit Number of Illumina GAs

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This article has been updated from a previous version to include additional information.

Illumina said last week and this week that two large-scale genome centers in the US and in China have scaled up their fleets of Genome Analyzers.

The Broad Institute has acquired 22 additional GAs, bringing its installed base up to 47 instruments.

Meanwhile, the Beijing Genomics Institute has purchased 12 additional instruments, of which eight will be installed at its new research facility in Hong Kong, and four at its Shenzhen campus, which already had 18 GAs as of last fall. In total, BGI will now have 29 units.

Eric Lander, director of the Broad Institute, said in a statement that the institute's partnership with Illumina "will help accelerate the application of genomics to medical practice."

The additional instruments will be used in "several very exciting projects that we want to pursue," Chad Nusbaum, co-director of the Broad's genome sequencing and analysis program, told In Sequence by e-mail. These projects currently remain undisclosed as the institute is still prioritizing them, he said.

At the moment, in addition to its Illumina sequencers, the Broad Institute also has a number of other second-generation sequencing platforms installed: 10 Roche/454 Genome Sequencer FLX systems, eight Applied Biosystems SOLiD instruments, one Helicos Genetic Analysis System, and one Polonator.

BGI's purchase of more GAs "is the first step in a multi-phase scale-up effort we plan to carry out in the near future," Xiuqing Zhang, director of BGI's sequencing division, said in a statement. The institute plans to use its new units to "expedite efforts around key programs," including the 1,000 Genomes Project, the Chinese Cancer Genome Project, the Tree of Life project, and other initiatives in the areas of agriculture, human health, and biofuels.

In addition to its Shenzhen, Hong Kong, and Beijing locations, the institute recently opened five more branches in China, one in the US, and one in Europe, designed "for both sequencing service and scientific collaboration," according to the statement.

As of last September, BGI Shenzhen's second-generation sequencing installation also included three Roche/454 GS FLX and two ABI SOLiD systems (see In Sequence 10/7/2008)

The two institutes' scale-up of their GAs is another indication that the Illumina platform is becoming the dominant type of second-generation sequencer at some of the largest genome centers in the world, all of them early adopters of next-generation sequencing technology.

In February, Illumina said it had reached a deal with the Genome Center at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis to acquire 21 additional GAs over the next several months, bringing its installed base up to 35 instruments (see In Sequence 2/17/2009). At the time, the center also had eight GS FLX but no ABI SOLiDs.

And last year, the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute purchased another 11 GAs, adding to its 26 already existing units (see In Sequence 11/18/2008). At that time, the institute also had two 454 GS FLX and five ABI SOLiD, though it returned its SOLiDs later last year.

The Human Genome Sequencing Center at Baylor College of Medicine, on the other hand, is proceeding with a different mix of instruments: As of March, the center had 10 SOLiDs, 10 GS FLX, and two GAs.

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