Is Beijing Genomics Institute to establish Chinese dominance in genomics market?


I am well past due to post on the New Yorker’s article about B.G.I. The article is by subscription only, and here I am citing the most interesting parts.

B.G.I., formerly called Beijing Genomics Institute, the world’s largest genetic-research center. With a hundred and seventy-eight machines to sequence the precise order of the billions of chemicals within a molecule of DNA, B.G.I. produces at least a quarter of the world’s genomic data—more than Harvard University, the National Institutes of Health, or any other scientific institution.

the company has already processed the genomes of fifty-seven thousand  (57000) people. B.G.I. also has sequenced many strains of rice, the cucumber, the chickpea, the giant panda, the Arabian camel, the yak, a chicken, and forty types of silkworm.

The company was founded in 9/9/1999 at 9:19 am in Beijing, China. It has now 4000 employees of an average age of 26, is located in Shenzhen nearby to the infamous Foxconn factory, and operates on a $1.58-billion loan from the China Development Bank, including multiple nonprofit and commercial projects, such as DNA sequencing 10000 people from the families with autism in the US and a thousand of obese and healthy people in Denmark. The BGI’s plans include the Million Human Genome Project, the Million Plant and Animal Genomes Project, the Million Microecosystem Genomes Project, and the controversial Cognitive Genomics project, also millet (very drought-tolerant crop) and cassava projects, both holding a big promise for feeding China and Africa.

BGI is the biggest customer of Illumina, which has sold BGI 130 sequencers for half a million dollars each (my guess, that would be HiSeq 2000 and HiSeq 2500; the latest and the most powerful HiSeq X Ten, released in 2014, costs about a million). When in 2013 BGI bought the main Illumina’s competitor Complete Genomics, Jay Flatley, Illumina’s CEO, said: “It is one thing to sell Coke and another to sell the formula for Coke. … when they bought Complete Genomics … they were allowed to … buy the formula.”

The article concludes discussing the Cognitive Genomics project, which goals are to select intelligent high-IQ embryos, to find cure for Alzheimer’s and to map the brain: At some point … people will look back and wonder what all the fuss was about [Chris Chang, a visiting scholar at BGI].”



20 cool infographics on healthcare

Here are 20 infographics related to healthcare and made in 2012. Yes, two years old. Yet some of them pretty cool in terms of design and statistics that can be borrowed for presentations, and some are made to be actual in the long run. In any case, I found that gallery of designs and numbers inspiring.

I liked #5 — HOW BIG DATA FLOWS IN HEALTHCARE — it even shows the table what petabyte and exabyte are (handy 🙂 ) and where data are generated, flow and can be potentially used.

#2 — The Future of Healthcare Technology Over A 30 Year Span — would be curious to look at in a few years.

#4 – How patients learn in the digital age from HealthEdAcademy — contains a curious phrase “Healthcare extenders becoming the search engines for patients”. 59% of healthcare extenders say that patients bring information from the Internet to discuss , and 30% say that patients cannot find reputable information on the Internet.

#6 provides data from surveying 3,015 U.S. practicing physicians. 62% of them owned a tablet, and half of tablet-owners used it at the point-of-care. On average, physicians spent 11 hours per week online for professional purposes, and oncologists 17 hours.

#9 lists top 20 most popular EMR solutions and major players on this market in 2013: eClinicalWorks, McKesson, Cerner, Epic, Allscripts, etc.

#15 from provides that “more than 40% of consumers say that information found via social media affects the way they deal with their health.”

#17 from gives promising numbers on using Cloud in health care.

“[Big Data] make business strategy interesting again”


TED posted a talk by Philip Evans about how Big Data will transform the business strategy. The screen shot above that I made on the 7:33 minute of the talk implies by Evans “a hundredfold multiplication in the stock of information that is connected via an I.P. address.”

“Now, if the number of connections that we can make is proportional to the number of pairs of data points, a hundredfold multiplication in the quantity of data is a ten-thousandfold multiplication in the number of patterns that we can see in that data, this just in the last 10 or 11 years. This, I would submit, is a sea change, a profound change in the economics of the world that we live in.”

But what his talk is really about is that technology (he gives an example of cost and speed of genome sequencing) is driving the typically vertical structure of businesses to becoming more horizontal, when cooperation is needed to achieve the big data scale.

“That implies fundamental changes in how we think about strategy. … It means, for example, we need to work out how to accommodate collaboration and competition simultaneously. Think about the genome. We need to accommodate the very large and the very small simultaneously. And we need industry structures that will accommodate very, very different motivations, from the amateur motivations of people in communities to maybe the social motivations of infrastructure built by governments, or, for that matter, cooperative institutions built by companies that are otherwise competing, because that is the only way that they can get to scale. … These kinds of transformations render the traditional premises of business strategy obsolete.”

In this light, one might start thinking differently about business endeavors and personal (horizontal?) strategy of contributing to the society.


Data Storage company values $1 Billion


The New York Times reports on a start-up Actifio, founded in 2009 and yet to become profitable, entering “an elite club of start-ups with 10-figure valuations.” it now has more than 300 business customers around the world, including Time Warner Cable, Netflix, IBM and Unilever.

“Its software, which costs an average of $349,000 for a three-year contract, allows a company access to a virtual version of backup copies of data, freeing up space and improving the overall efficiency of the company’s data storage.”

A potential rival of Actifio is the EMC data storage company, which recently increased its focus on managing copies of data — the business posing a threat to the data storage companies’ main activity of selling more storage space.


Big Data technologies would achieve a plateau of productivity in 5-10 year

Source: Gartner August 2013

Source: Gartner August 2013

This is a map of hype cycle for emerging technologies by Gartner, Inc. A full report assessing more than 2,000 technologies in 98 areas is also available.

“In fact, by observing how emerging technologies are being used by early adopters, there are actually three main trends at work. These are augmenting humans with technology — for example, an employee with a wearable computing device; machines replacing humans — for example, a cognitive virtual assistant acting as an automated customer representative; and humans and machines working alongside each other — for example, a mobile robot working with a warehouse employee to move many boxes.”

Well, “a walking warehouse employee” sounds like an outdated concept. I think many already unemployed wish to still be or to become again “walking employees”, alongside with a robot or not — but that is not going to happen: robots can walk/jump/run on their own, with the other “seating” robots managing the process.

Looking at this plot, one can ask “What is smart dust?” Well, this is, according to Wikipedia, a 20-year old concept for millimeter and smaller size wireless sensors, and nanobots/nanorobots, I would add. Bioacoustic sensing is something new to me.

But the most important question to ask is “Which skills/education/business do I/my kids/my company need to pursue to be marketable in 10-15 years.” The answer doesn’t sound as revelation: bioengineering, electrical engineering, programming (cloud, mobile, web, databases, algorithms), statistics, analytics, life sciences, neuroscience, physics, linguistics, sociology, psychology, human-machine communicators/liaisons, robot teachers. And what is not?

With more and more people out of traditional jobs and with higher demand on talent and smart at job, will the society be in need of more artists, actors, singer, dancers, writers, poets, entertainers, designers, architects, communicators, restauranteurs — professions that currently pay only for extraordinary talent? Will “Quantified Self” include only the human physical substance (which is for a materialist includes complete self), or should we expect achieving a new level of artistic and philosophical creativity via self-quantification? And will it be rewarded by the society? Basically, what will keep billions on this planet busy and out off distraction?

Russia’s leading search engine Yandex upgrades its Big Data devision


The Moscow times reports on changes in the Yandex’s management re Big Data.

“If Yandex decides to seriously pursue big data, there is a good chance that Russia will enter the international big-data market.”

So far, according to the report, the projects pursued by Yandex concerned mobile communications to predict which customers were most likely to change providers, services to an unnamed bank interested in reducing the number of ATMs that reject bank cards, and services to Russian oil company Rosneft and Norwegian oil company Statoil.

Btw, TechCrunch reported earlier on adding the Facebook and Big Data search capabilities to Yandex.

Above is a screenshot of Russian version of Yandex. While I can tell that when last time I visited Russia my friends did not understand what I meant by searching the Internet, they always spelled me the Russian names (in latin letters!) of websites where I should go for this and that. And truly, ignoring their advice to remember exact names, I could not find anything they mentioned in any search engine when I searched in Russia.

TechNavio’s market analysis: 14 trends to revolutionize data centers


TechNavio (the London based company covering the global market for more than 500 technologies across 80 countries) has analysed trends and reported the top 14 trends expected to have an enormous impact on the data center industry in the coming years. 

It is about more and more racks (“the data center rack market revenue crossed the billion dollar mark in 2013”), high density servers, micro servers (“The unit shipment of micro servers tripled in 2012 and doubled in 2013. Additionally, market revenue is expected to grow more than 50 percent yearly until 2018. Moreover, they are expected to gain more traction in the market as the demand for server efficiency and low-power architecture increases along with growth of Web 2.0 companies.”), 40G/100G and beyond Ethernet, “using less expensive, active, concerted, and adaptive methods to analyze and share data”, both structured and unstructured.