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University of Toronto Aims to Sequence 10K Genomes Annually

NEW YORK (GenomeWeb) – The University of Toronto announced today the launch of a project to sequence the genomes of 10,000 people a year in an effort to use big data to drive precision medicine.

"Genomic information is the new oil," U of T's Stephen Scherer, who also serves as director of the Centre for Applied Genomics at The Hospital for Sick Kids, said in a statement. "It's the resource that's going to drive technology in the new era. We’re generating the oil that researchers will use to enable discoveries and to create new products in software, biotechnology, and information management that will realize precision medicine."

According to the university, the genomes will be sequenced in Scherer's lab using an Illumina HiSeq X Ten system purchased with funding from the Canada Foundation for Innovation, with the resulting data serving as controls for research examining the link between genetics and disease. Health technology firms including Alphabet's Verily Life Sciences will contribute to the effort.

Verily and Scherer are currently collaborating on the MSSNG Autism Genome Sequencing Project — formerly known as AUT10K — a program sequencing the whole genomes of 10,000 autism patients and family members, and making the genomic, phenotypic, and clinical data freely available to researchers on the Google Cloud.

"Whole-genome sequencing is bringing the worlds of life science and data science together," David Glazer, engineering director at Verily, added in the statement. "Our existing collaboration … on the … MSSNG project is a good example of the opportunity; we're eager to see the many more such projects enabled by today's announcement."