October 22, 2018 –

Chinese Physicians Visit for Genomic Deep Dive

Group hears from CEO Rob Brainin and Dr Shira Rockowitz from Boston Children's Hospital on the use of genomics in a clinical setting.

A group of about 40 physicians, mostly from mainland China, visited Boston recently to learn more about genomics and made a special trip to WuXi NextCODE’s offices. These physicians are as passionate as we are about bringing the benefits of genomics to people around the globe. WuXi NextCODE is unusual in that we have a vibrant business in China, including a hospital-based sequencing program for children with undiagnosed rare conditions. We also work with organizations leading data projects in the US, Europe, and the Middle East.

The Chinese doctors first spent a week at a conference on precision medicine at Boston Children’s Hospital, one of our customers. Later, they came to Cambridge for a tour of our offices and to hear about real-world implementation of genomics in a hospital-setting from Shira Rockowitz, Ph.D., Research Computing Genomics Lead at Boston Children’s Hospital. Dr. Rockowitz described Boston Children’s Hospital’s world-leading genomic sequencing initiatives.

Boston Children’s Hospital has compiled a database of DNA sequences from more than 4,000 people whose diseases are being studied by researchers throughout the hospital. The hospital also recently announced a new strategic initiative to sequence the DNA of 3,000 patients with epilepsy or inflammatory bowel disease and their family members. The Boston Children’s Hospital researchers will be using WuXi NextCODE’s integrated genomic research platform to more easily interpret genetic variants, compare them with public genomic databases, and validate those variants against literature reports.

These are exactly the type of services and projects our Chinese visitors are interested in launching in their own country. We aim to be powerful allies in helping them replicate the exemplary work that Boston Children’s Hospital has done in delivering genomic services to patients. One of the hospitals in China where we helped establish genomic sequencing is now doing about 1,000 cases a month and providing diagnoses to around 30% of their patients – a rate equivalent to the world’s leading clinical genomics centers. Previously, these families would have left the clinic without a diagnosis.

This is a crucial development. It demonstrates how WuXi NextCODE is fulfilling its mission to improve lives through genomics worldwide, and that more patients are getting the care they deserve.

That literally means the world to people like Rob Brainin, WuXi NextCODE’s CEO. Because he is not just the CEO of an international genomic sequencing and analysis enterprise, he is also the father of a child with a rare disease. When his child first developed symptoms, Rob had to use all the expertise he had gained working in this field and fight with his daughter’s doctor to get her access to sequencing, which proved extremely valuable in guiding her care.

That’s not how it should be.

As Rob told our distinguished Chinese guests, their efforts to learn more about genomics will not just help their institutions, it is a gift to all the patients still struggling to get a diagnosis only genomics can deliver.

We aim to keep moving forward and make it easier for patients to get diagnoses. Further, we want to collect data from around the world, so we understand differences in genetics across all populations. Then, we’ll pool all that data together, so we can extract the greatest value from it with the tools we’ve been advancing for decades now.

We already have many shining examples of clinical genomics centers that are helping patients and forwarding research. But for genomics to reach its full potential, companies like WuXi NextCODE need to keep pushing the frontier.

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