Non-profit Consortium Aims to Generate Genomic Information for Asian Populations and Promote Genetic Understanding to Support Research and Discovery
The non-profit consortium, GenomeAsia 100K, today announced an ambitious plan to sequence 100,000 individuals. It is intended to initially include populations from 12 South Asian countries and at least 7 of North and East Asian countries.
In the first phase, the project will focus on creating phased reference genomes for all major Asian ethnic groups representing a major step forward in understanding the population history and population substructure of the region.
The sequencing of 100,000 individuals will be combined with micro-biome, clinical and phenotype information to allow deeper analysis of diseased and healthy individuals in the context of inferred local ancestries. With recent insights into the genome diversity of Asian ethnicities, it will become possible to understand the biology of disease in the currently under-studied Asian populations that represent 40% of mankind. Further, the unique genetic diversity prevalent in South, North and East Asia provides a valuable source of clinical insights that should enhance our understanding of several rare and inherited diseases, as well as complex diseases such as cancer, diabetes and cardiovascular disease.
Key goal of the consortium is to accelerate precision medicine applications for Asian patients. It will also build advanced analytical capabilities to parse ‘big-data’ sets, leveraging advances in data science and artificial intelligence.
Prof. Stephan Schuster of Nanyang Technological University (NTU Singapore) will be the Scientific Chairman and Prof. Jeong-Sun Seo, Director of Genomic Medicine Institute at Seoul National University (GMI-SNU) and Chairman of Macrogen will serve a co-Scientific Chairman (North and East Asia) of the consortium. Mahesh Pratapneni, CEO, Emerge Ventures, will act as the Executive Chairman of the project.
Announcing the consortium, Dr. Schuster said, “Advances in sequencing, computing and mobile access mandates that we begin to study these underrepresented Asian populations.” Supporters of the initiative include genomics companies Macrogen, MedGenome, as well as life sciences company Illumina. With support to AsianGenome100K initiative, Prof. Jeong-Sun Seo expressed his enthusiasm saying, “Our research experience in Korean reference genome construction and Northeast Asian population genetics will ensure that this consortium is successful.”
The consortium will be hosted at Nanyang Technological University, Singapore. Professor Bertil Andersson, President of NTU said having greater understanding of the Asian population’s genome could lead to better healthcare discoveries in the future. “The human genome is extremely important because they play a big part in the diseases that affect all of us, such as cancer, diabetes and cardiovascular disease. With almost all current personal genomics efforts concentrating on populations in the western world, the new consortium will benefit the Asian population as it sheds light on the genetic fabric of Asians.”
The consortium is now actively seeking additional founding members and scientific collaborators.