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BGI and UW Medicine to collaborate on precision medicine development

May 11, 2016

BGI, one of the world's largest genomics organizations, and UW Medicine have signed a memorandum of understanding to collaborate on biomedical technology development. The shared aim is to advance precision medicine for diagnosis, treatment and prevention of common and rare diseases. BGI is headquartered in Shenzhen, Guangdong, China.

The BGI and UW Medicine collaboration is being announced today, May 11, by Seattle Mayor Ed Murray. A memorandum of understanding is also being signed between the city of Shenzhen and the city of Seattle to commit both cities to greater cooperation in medical research and health care.

The memorandum of understanding was signed during the third day of a Murray-led trade delegation to three cities in China, which also includes Hong Kong and Hangzhou. The mission is part of an ongoing effort to encourage more foreign direct investment in Seattle, expand economic opportunities for local companies, and establish international partnerships.

The Seattle Mayor's Office participated in a ceremony in Shenzhen marking the relationship between the cities.

"This agreement between the Cities of Seattle and Shenzhen will encourage and support meaningful cooperation between two global leaders of innovation in medical research and technology," Seattle Mayor Ed Murray said. "Ultimately, it will create new opportunities for our biotech and health care industries, and help advance pioneering medical technology that will benefit patients, doctors and communities around the globe."

The relationship between BGI and UW Medicine will provide new avenues for physicians, scholars and students to cooperate in scientific and medical discovery.

The research and educational collaboration will look particularly at applying next-generation sequencing to improve the health of communities, through population genetics and personalized healthcare.

The work also will include data collection, storage, international sharing and analysis of omics data. Omics refers to the pool of biological molecules - DNA, proteins, metabolites - that affect the structure and function of living things.

BGI is an international leader in pursuing the vision of using genomics to benefit humanity. It has made many major scientific breakthroughs in sequencing human genomes and the genomes of crops, animals and microbes.

BGI makes state-of-the-art genomics highly accessible to the global research community and clinical fields. It does so by integrating the industry's broadest array of technologies, including the BGISEQ platform, with economies of scale and expert bioinformatics resources.

"UW Medicine and BGI share the same goal to improve the heath of the public," said Dr. Yiwu He, global head of research and development at BGI. "Through our partnership, efforts and resources will be joined to produce more innovative healthcare solutions in precision medicine that will lead to more effective treatments available to patients. Advanced technologies and knowledge will also become more accessible to professionals and the public due to this partnership."

BGI President Dr. Jian Wang, said, "As an alumnus of UW, I am really excited about the stronger tie BGI and UW have formed."

He added, "With the commitment of UW Medicine and BGI, more innovations in research, education and healthcare will be developed between Seattle and Shenzhen to benefit the health of people worldwide."

UW Medicine and BGI also will collaborate on the development of a joint Seattle-Shenzhen institute that will involve research institutions in each city including, but not necessarily limited to, UW and BGI.

"BGI is a respected partner in scientific discovery. This new relationship will help fast-track genomic research in some critical areas of medicine," said Dr. John Slattery, vice dean for research and graduate education at UW Medicine.

"We at the UW are looking forward to working alongside BGI in charting the future of genomics research, especially in accelerating the application of new sequencing technologies to human health," said Dr. Jay Shendure, an M.D./Ph.D scientist and professor of genome sciences at the UW, and a national advisor on precision medicine initiatives.

University of Washington Health Sciences/UW Medicine

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