Computing in the Age of the $1,000 Genome: Speakers from Isilon, Arch Join Stellar Lineup

The quest to sequence entire human genomes for $1,000 or less is one of the stories that many predict will change healthcare in the 21st century. It’s an enormously complex puzzle that requires some of the brightest minds in both IT and life sciences to put their heads together. And quite a few of them are working to make this happen right here in Seattle.

So that’s why I’m pleased to announce we’re adding a couple more great speakers to our next event, “Computing in the Age of the $1,000 Genome” on February 7th in Seattle. The first is Paul Rutherford, the chief technology officer of Seattle-based Isilon Systems, which has now officially been acquired by EMC for $2.2 billion. The second is Bob Nelsen, the managing director of Arch Venture Partners, an early investor in Illumina, the leading maker of DNA sequencing instruments that are creating this massive data pile-up.

Rutherford is a natural fit for this event because he has spearheaded Isilon’s work in providing the immense data storage capability that biologists need when they run DNA sequencers that spit out billions of data points. Isilon has gotten some early traction in this market, having signed up A-list customers like The Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard, Johns Hopkins University, Merck, & Genentech.

Rutherford will offer his perspective during a panel at this event alongside Deepak Singh of Amazon Web Services, and Jim Karkanias of Microsoft Health Solutions. Each comes at the genomic data challenge from a slightly different angle—Amazon is focused on flexible cloud computing approaches for storage and analysis, Microsoft has an open-source software platform it is pushing along with bioinformatics software to crunch the data, while Isilon offers hard core centralized servers to store and access the data at places that pump out vast amounts of DNA sequences every day.

I’ve asked Tim Hunkapiller, one of the founding fathers of bioinformatics from the early 1980s at Caltech, to moderate this panel. Hunkapiller has a long history as an academic scientist, and these days has his finger on the pulse of what’s new in DNA sequencing instruments, partly through his work as a consultant to one of the industry leaders, Carlsbad, CA-based Life Technologies (NASDAQ: LIFE).

Paul Rutherford

Paul Rutherford

Nelsen, who’s never afraid to stir the pot, will join this event for a closing fireside chat with biotech pioneer Leroy Hood.

So, here’s the updated list of speakers:

Leroy Hood, the co-founder and president of the Institute for Systems Biology, Seattle

Cliff Reid, co-founder and CEO, Mountain View, CA-based Complete Genomics

Eric Schadt, chief scientific officer, Menlo Park, CA-based Pacific Biosciences

Jim Karkanias, senior director, applied research and technology, Microsoft Health Solutions, Redmond, WA

Deepak Singh, senior business development manager, Amazon Web Services, Seattle

Rowan Chapman, partner, Menlo Park, CA-based Mohr Davidow Ventures

Andreas Sundquist, co-founder and CEO, Palo Alto, CA-based DNANexus

Bob Nelsen

Bob Nelsen

Ilya Kupershmidt, co-founder and VP of products, Cupertino, CA-based NextBio

Rob Arnold, president, Seattle-based Geospiza

Tim Hunkapiller, Seattle-based consultant, Life Technologies

Paul Rutherford, chief technology officer, Isilon Systems, Seattle

Bob Nelsen, managing director, Arch Venture Partners, Seattle

Tickets have been going fast for this event, and at the current pace I wouldn’t be surprised if this event sells out a couple weeks in advance. So check your calendars for the afternoon of February 7, and join us for a thoughtful conversation about how computer scientists can work with biologists in a way that will ultimately shake up medicine as we know it.

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