San Diego science: How genomics is addressing the global pandemic

Jun 26, 2020 - Kierstin Rielly

San Diego is ranked among the top genomics markets in the nation, and we have world leaders in next-generation sequencing (NGS) in our backyard. With access to genomic experts and innovative companies who are paving the way for the future of medicine, our region has become a hotspot for transformative life-changing science.

In 2020, we hosted a panel with scientists who are studying modern genomics to address COVID-19.

Moderated by Kathy Lynch, Vice President, Global Government Affairs and Public Policy for Illumina, who plays a critical role in connecting San Diego science with global markets, we welcomed Gary P. Schroth and Dr. James Lu to discuss the role of genomics in addressing COVID-19.

Meet our experts

The first panelist, Gary P. Schroth, Ph.D., Vice President and Distinguished Scientist at Illumina, uses next-generation sequencing (NGS) to study genomics, gene structure, expression and regulation and applies this to projects in the fields of cancer, immunology, microbiology and infectious disease. Over the course of his career Dr. Schroth has been an author on more than 95 peer reviewed research papers and holds 19 U.S. patents.

The second panelist, Dr. James Lu, M.D., Ph.D. is the Co-founder & Chief Science Officer at Helix. Dr. Lu is responsible for the scientific teams which includes bioinformatics, laboratory operations, regulatory, quality, translational research and policy teams.

Our guest experts discussed NGS, the history of COVID-19, how COVID-19 strains differ from one another and how the strains evolve and travel differently, testing capabilities for the region, as well as other related issues.

Cutting-edge genomics – it's in our DNA

San Diego is a top choice for genomics companies and talent. Illumina was founded here 22 years ago and the region has essentially been the heart of genomics renaissance. Many other well-established companies are here, as well as tons of startups. The company density, paired with the talent pool from local colleges, makes this area a hotbed of genomic activity. This immense amount of opportunity breeds exceptional employees and competitive hiring practices, forcing companies to constantly up their game. If you were a molecular biologist 20 years ago, you might not have thought of San Diego as a place to start or grow your career – now, San Diego is the place to launch your genomics career.

What's next for genomics and COVID-19?

This work has all-consuming, during all hours of the day – and Dr. Gary Schroth joked that he “couldn’t remember what he used to work on” before COVID-19.

As we continue into the unknowns a global pandemic brings, one thing is clear: San Diego's genomics cluster and companies continue to be at the forefront of COVID research – and you can be part of the life-changing movement.

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