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  • Illumina, Amgen, and Partners to Collaboratively Sequence African American Cohort

    A team of biotech companies will begin the whole-genome sequencing of 35,000 diverse individuals this month. Illumina and Nashville Biosciences have made an agreement with Amgen to provide whole-genome sequencing for a group primarily made up of African Americans. This cohort has been historically underrepresented in genomics research, hindering clinical research and drug discovery efforts.

    The sequencing project is part of a multi-year agreement among biopharmaceutical companies called the Alliance for Genomic Discovery (AGD). The AGD aims to sequence a minimum of 250,000 genomes to be included in Vanderbilt University Medical Center’s (Nashville Biosciences’ parent company) BioVU biobank.

    deCODE Genetics, a subsidiary of Amgen, will perform the initial sequencing efforts of the 35,000 individuals on Illumina instruments and upload the data through the genomic data platform Illumina Connected Analytics.

    This first cohort is expected to be one of the largest sequencing efforts that involves African American participants. The collaborators are hopeful that this increase in diverse genomic data will enable a broader understanding of disease within diverse populations.

    Additional collaborators with the AGD are waiting to be announced, but in the meantime, the initial data will be utilized for drug discovery and therapy development. After analysis, the data will be sent to BioVU for further academic research.

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