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Sanjay Chikarmane: Genomic Data to Transform Health

Health and bioinformatics leaders look to the future of precision medicine and discuss how to address big data

Sanjay Chikarmane: Genomic Data to Transform Health
June 3, 2016

The dramatic drop in the cost of sequencing is moving precision medicine closer to reality.  Along with it comes a large amount of genomic data that requires sophisticated bioinformatics to make useful. Sanjay Chikarmane, Senior Vice President and General Manager of Enterprise Informatics at Illumina is looking to turn big data into smart data— that is, the right data at the right time to the right person—to enhance and inform care decisions.

Speaking at a big data executive forum in San Diego in May, Chikarmane explained that big data is only meaningful when you can understand it, apply context to it and be able to make informed decisions from it. Illumina is addressing these challenges with its comprehensive genomics software solution, BaseSpace Informatics Suite.

“The ability to get biologically significant information from this skyrocketing data presents multiple challenges— from storage and computing to identifying specific mutations, and turning that data into useful information,” Chikarmane explained. “We have designed an automated solution that can speed up the process of getting answers from the initial samples to help professionals make data-driven decisions.”

Chikarmane joined a panel of bioinformatics executives from life sciences and health care industries including Kaiser Permanente, Amazon Web Services, and IBM at a summit hosted by Biocom. The summit gathered leaders focused on how companies can effectively manage, protect, and leverage genomic data and information. With a focus on best practices, the event explored strategies and technologies surrounding data processing, protection and privacy, meeting industry regulations and compliance, and compute and storage.

For the data to be beneficial, it has to be accessible, available, actionable, and shared, the panel agreed. They also defined collaboration as a key opportunity, because information-sharing will be central to the success of precision medicine initiatives. 

“The biggest opportunity is around collaboration across disciplines, collaboration across domains and industries,” said Dr. John Mattison, Chief Information Officer at Kaiser Permanente.

San Diego’s expertise in high-performance computing, predictive analytics, and software development, coupled with its indisputable leadership in genomics, brain science, biotechnology, and digital health, makes the region uniquely poised to be a pioneer in this data-biology confluence. 

Dr. Mattison added, “It’s my conviction that developing personal relationships with adjacent technologies to whichever technology you’re working on and finding people who you believe you can have a long term trusted relationship with enables the most successful collaborations.”

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