The Beijing Genomics Institute purchased 11 additional Genome Analyzers from Illumina (NSDQ: ILMN), bringing their total number of Illumina analyzers to 17. The purchase, completed in March, was called a “multi-million dollar” transaction. With the new machines, which are based on massively parallel technology, BGI has the capacity to sequence more than two human genomes to 25x coverage per week.
The BGI, which was founded in 1998, contributed 1% of the data to the Human Genome Project. So far, it has completed two additional human genome sequences, the first a person of Han descent and the second a China individual who contributed more than $1 million to the project, the third and fourth such complete human genome sequences in the world.
The BGI comprises publicly funded and private funded divisions, and is, accordingly, both a for-profit and non-profit organization. The institute employs 500 people
BGI is also involved in a collaborative China-British initiative called The Yanhuang Project, which aims to map 100 Chinese genomes. There are three phases to the project:
1. To sequence a China individual’s genome as a reference;
2. To sequence at least 99 additional genomes to construct a China genetic polymorphism map;
3. To study the results of the first two phases and apply the findings to medical science.
BGI is also involved in the 99 Project, the 1000 Genomes Project, the Giant Panda Project, the Tree of Life Project, as well as other large-scale initiatives.
In 2003, BGI was one of the first laboratories in the world to sequence the SARS virus. It has also completed a detailed genetic map of Chinese super hybrid rice genome. BGI participated in the international chicken genome project and, together with the North East Agriculture University in China, sequenced the silkworm genome.