Wednesday, June 08, 2011

#UCDavis to partner with the Beijing Genome Institute (BGI)

Well, it is now formal so I guess I can post about it here.  UC Davis is officially developing a genomics partnership with the Beijing Genomics Institute (BGI).

For more on this breaking news see
Not much detail there I know - but in essence the plan is to build a partnership between UC Davis and BGI with BGI provided genomics and informatics expertise and capabilities and Davis providing biological expertise and diversity (of course, Davis has some genomics chops too and BGI does some biology but you probably get the point). 

For those who do not know, BGI is a relative newcomer on the block in terms of large scale genomics research institutes.  But by being new they have had a massive advantage in a way in that they are really the first to be developed as a "Second-generation Genome Center" having been built / developed with the new second generation sequencing systems at its core.  Thus while other large centers around the world have tried to adapt to the new second generation sequencing systems, BGI started from scratch and could build it's enterprise around the new systems.  

I am excited about the possible connections with BGI though I confess I do not know a whole lot about the plans.  There have been lots of whisperings here at Davis about building a partnership with BGI and people have been a bit nervous about word getting out too early.  So, though I have heard some details I have not been an active part of the discussions.  However, whatever the plans are I am looking forward to interactions with BGI.  They are really pushing the frontiers of genome sequencing in many ways.  And despite the moans and groans from many people, I do not think genome sequencing is on a downward slope in any way.  For example, as a tool in studying microbes, genome sequencing still has many many years of use - after all there are hundreds of millions of microbial species that have yet to be studied and each one has lots of intraspecific diversity (e.g., across geography) to be characterized.  

And as a UC Davis faculty member I think BGI picked a great place to work with.  Davis has an almost unprecedented diversity of faculty working on some area in the life sciences - and these faculty come from across campus from the College of Biological Sciences, School of Medicine, Viticulture and Enology, School of Veterinary Medicine, College of Agriculture and Environmental Sciences, College of Engineering, School of Nursing, and College of Letters and Sciences.  In fact, you could say - in a way - UC Davis is a campus more dedicated to Life Sciences than almost any other place in the world.  

This development is just one of many that make me impressed with the new UC Davis Administration.    Ever since Chancellor Katehi came on board I have been pleased with almost every major initiative and development and administrative hire on campus.  Sure - the budget cuts from the California government hurt.  But in challenging times, you need great leadership.  And we certainly have it at UC Davis these days.  And if you think I am just sucking up, you should read some of the things I wrote about our previous administration.  I really am impressed here.  

I do not know what will happen with the BGI - UC Davis partnership.  Right now it is just a plan.  But I will do what I can to help it succeed and I am looking forward to interactions with BGI and the bright future at UC Davis. 

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