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VIB-BGI Genomics Meeting highlights growing impact of large-scale genomics in life sciences

February 15, Leuven, Belgium and Shenzhen, China VIB, a life sciences research institute in Flanders, Belgium, and BGI, one of the world's largest genomics organizations, today concluded a jointly organized meeting focused on large-scale genomics projects. Around 160 scientists from VBI, BGI, and other research institutes or biotechnology industries attended the meeting to exchange their experience and promote collaborations in genomics research.

This first joint genomics meeting between VIB and BGI featured several presentations on BGI's sequencing projects and computing infrastructure, VIB's research on human and microbial genomes, as well as results from collaborative VIB-BGI projects. Prior to this meeting, the two organizations have already been working together on several projects, including the mapping of the genomes of more than 1,000 species of gut bacteria, compiled from 577 billion base pairs of sequence data, of which several results already got published in Nature.

Professor Huanming Yang, Chairman of BGI, started the presentation by a brief introduction of the development of BGI as well as recent achievements, and stated, "21st century is the century of biology and genome is regarded as the foundation of biology." He also mentioned "BGI has initiated many major projects with our collaborators. Our strategy is to develop genome research internationally. I am confident that we will achieve more research results." He addressed the research topics at the meeting including large-scale analysis of human genomes, metagenomics and microbiology, biodiversity genomics and computational analysis. Professor Lars Bolund from the University of Arhus and BGI Europe introduced the sequencing approach and BGI's participation in a Danish population genome project. He said: "One of the strengths of BGI is that they are very good at developing new software for genome sequencing research and bioinformatics." Jeroen Raes from VIB and Huanzi Zhong from BGI gave presentations on the genomics study of microbiology titled "Sequencing the Human Gut" and "Metagenomics at BGI", respectively.

In the last sessions, Dr Guojie Zhang and Dr Lin Fang from BGI have given detailed introduction on the genome sequencing for biodiversity and the cloud computational platforms at BGI. At the end of the meeting, Ning Li, Director of BGI-Europe has shared his prospect of BGI's role in Europe. He said, "This joint meeting provides a perfect platform for researchers from BGI and VIB to share and exchange knowledge and research ideas. The participants not only learned the recent research in Human Genomics, Meta/Microbial Genomics and also the latest study of relevant research fields. The attendees also had the chance to learn the perspectives on large scale genome research by using sequencing technology, bioinformatics and the analysis tools. We would like to collaborate with more researchers in Europe, in order to accelerate the genome research in human health, agricultural, bio-energy as well as other innovative research." Ning also welcomed everyone to attend the International Conference on Genomics this coming May in Copenhagen, Denmark, where more exciting topics will be presented by the leading researchers in Europe.

The VIB-BGI genomics meeting showcased the growing importance of genomics to advance life sciences research. Moreover, by working together, both VIB and BGI can take advantage of each other's strengths, as evidenced by several talks. With the opening of BGI Europe earlier this month, BGI is hoping to collaborate with its partners to conduct more genomics research to accelerate the innovation and development of genomics research and application in health care, agriculture, bioenergy and other related fields in Europe.

Contact: Jia Liu
BGI Shenzhen

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