How many Human Genomes will be Sequenced this Year?

It took nearly 13 years, billions of dollars and many research labs across the globe to complete the Human Genome Project. 11 years later, how many genomes would be synthesized in 2014 alone? If Francis de Souza, president of Illumina – the company whose sequencers generate 90% of all DNA data produced, is to be believed –

228, 000.

The first human genome sequenced cost $3 billion. The average cost of the genomes sequenced this year would be nearly $1, 000. Thus, all human genomes sequenced this year would cost $228, 000, 000 or just 1/5th of what the first one did+. This is a huge reduction in cost very much like the Moore’s law in computing.

It is predicted that the number of genomes sequenced will continue to double each year. At that pace, 12.8 million people would be sequenced in 2020 alone. But, are costs still the issue? Nope!  There is a paradigm shift underway in how big data is being looked at in biology. The shift in how we look at data is-

From producing lots of it to making some sense out of it

Digital representation of the human genome. Each colour represents a base pair.

To convert this data into reliable information relevant to medicine – disease modelling, personalized medicine, drug development or in any imaginable way – is the shift of genomics companies now. To deal with such humongous data (this genomic data + proteomics + transcriptomics + metabolomics + every-concievable-omics) would require biologists to shun their fear of maths and immense demarcation of sub-disciplines.

Call it systems biology or synthetic biology – they are two sides of the same coin. Are you game for it?


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