I have been following developments in genetics, genomics, and bioinformatics (which, for convenience, I will now lump together under the single term “genomics”) for a long time now. First, as a genetics student who had the good fortune to work in a molecular virology lab at UC Davis back in the ’80s, and later as a grad student, postdoc, industry scientist, and business development professional.
The increases in understanding of genomics theory has been truly inspiring – we’re finally understanding life at its most basic level. It now looks like we’re beginning to see some real-world benefit too! Blood tests, called liquid biopsies, are being developed for cancer diagnosis, prognosis, and treatment selection. These tests are rapidly moving from being theoretically possible, to being real. For instance, my current employer, BioChain, has teamed up with a company called Epigenomics to introduce a blood test for colon cancer. Epigenomics has gotten FDA approval for use of the test in the US, and we have gotten Chinese FDA approval for a project involving screening rural China for this disease. This is the first FDA/CFDA approved liquid biopsy oncology test, but will certainly not be the last.
With the explosive advances in the science of genomics comes opportunity, both in the academic and business communities. This in turn results in a proliferation of academic programs and business startups. Of course, rapid development of any field leads to chaos. It became impossible for me to properly track the founding of new genomics startup companies, and academic programs without help. Since I wanted to keep track of my field, for personal and professional reasons, I turned to the wired community for help. In May of 2012, I created a website with a simple flat file of the genomics-related institutions that I could think of after about two glasses of wine and perhaps 10 minutes of intense thought. I called the website “grouthbio.com” since I wasn’t really all that creative, and announced its existence on LinkedIn. Within minutes folks from all over the world started telling me about their companies and programs, and I’d list them. Within about 6 months, I had a very nice way to track the goings on in my field.
Since then, I continue to maintain grouthbio.com, and will continue to do so. Since the list is getting large, unwieldy, and hard to search, I have enlisted the help of a couple colleagues in the field to come up with a more versatile way to archive this information. GenomeSource is our first attempt to do this. We are attempting incorporate suggestions emailed to me by folks who visit grouthbio, and also add in more information on the listed entities, and make it easier to find the company, or organization most relevant to anyone’s current interests.
Eventually, the grouthbio.com flat file will be migrated to this website, but still maintained as a simple flat file for people who like their information in a single great big brain dump. For the rest of us, GenomeSource will hopefully provide useful tools to parse the information. Since GenomeSource is still a work in progress, I always appreciate suggestions.