Genome sequencing technologies have advanced with a remarkable pace over the last two decades. It is said that these technologies have followed, what in computer science is called, the Moore’s Law. Consider this amazing fact:

The first human genome was sequenced with an investment of USD 8 Billion and 13 years of multicenter international work. Today we can sequence an entire genome in a day and we are now looking at the $100 genome.

The intent of human genome sequencing has been to advance our knowledge about diseases and how we can predict effects of medication more accurately. This in turn helps us design more effective medicines at a far lesser cost. Indeed, the science community’s achievements in harnessing genomics have been incredible till date: the efficacy of genomics is now proven.

The remarkable cost-time effectiveness due to cutting-edge genomic sequencing technology is now becoming an enabler to accelerate generation of new knowledge about human health which is directing the design of new medicines. 

We are at the cusp of what must perhaps be called a genomics led revolution in human healthcare.

Even as the science community sets out on this revolution, it is helpful to take a birds-eye view of where we stand now.

Shift of focus from sequencing to diversity

The focus at the beginning of the genomics era was, in the first instance, to sequence the genome. However, populations differ not just in genetic variations but also in phenotypic and disease characteristics. Thus, scientists recognize that as we generate new knowledge with genomics, it is imperative to understand these differences as they relate to genetic findings. Therefore, it is essential for progress, to acquire this data on diverse populations along with their medical history. This diversity focus represents a paradigm shift that we are witnessing today.

Data acquisition vs knowledge

Genome sequencing is now a solved problem. However, the understanding of the sequence data is still evolving. 

While the genome reflects all the DNA in our cells, much of the work to date has focused on a subset of that DNA, the exome. This is the part of the genome that represents the genes that code for the proteins, enzymes and cellular constituents that make up our cells, organs and body. The exome constitutes only 2% of the genome, the remain in ng 98% has regulatory and other roles that are very poorly, or not at all understood at this time.

Furthermore, despite the fact that we can sequence all the 20,000 or so genes and the focus of most research being on them, we understand the role of less than half of these genes. The rest are largely a mystery.

Therefore, now that sequencing is a solved problem, the focus of the science community is moving towards understanding the sequence data.

In conclusion

Genome sequencing technology has come of age. The efficacy of genomics in the design of medicines has been demonstrated and we stand at the cusp of a genomics-led revolution in healthcare. Over the next few years, the following two themes of efforts will help drive genomics-led medicine discovery:

  • Genomic data acquisition from diverse populations enriching the genetic data on disease traits
  • New knowledge on disease expression and predispositions from diverse populations with variable susceptibilities and presentations powering correlations

Dr. Jonathan Picker Chief Executive Office

Dr. Jonathan Picker is an affiliate faculty member and clinical geneticist at Boston's Children's Hospital, Harvard Medical School.

With 25 years of experience in Pediatrics and Genetics, Dr. Picker specializes in the interface of clinical care and applied genetic and genomic research. Dr. Picker's research spans diagnostic tools in genetics to descriptive analysis of rare disorders to molecular neuroscience. He was the co-founder and Director of the first Pediatric Pharmacogenomic clinic in the USA; as well as Director of the Harvard Medical School Advanced Human Genetics Training Program Course.

Dr. Picker is the recipient of various prestigious awards, including the first Sidney R. Baer Jr. Prize for Mental health Research. He has authored numerous research papers involving informative cases, molecular biology, behavioral neuroscience, applied clinical genetic guidelines as well as invited reviews and chapters.

Dr. Picker holds a bachelor's degree of Medical Biology in Genetics, and an MBChB in Medicine from Aberdeen University, UK. He also holds an MS in Genetics and Biochemistry and a PhD in Molecular Biology from Newcastle University, UK.

Kushagra SharmaPresident & Board Member

Kushagra Sharma is a seasoned business leader with a career spanning entrepreneurship as well as general management, Kushagra has deep expertise in developing and executing business plans in start-ups as well as large corporations. He is responsible for the revenue growth of the business, strategic planning, and partnerships at Anuva.

Before joining Anuva, he was responsible for the strategy and project execution in launching 4G digital services for Reliance Jio in India. Kushagra has previously served in leadership roles in companies like British Telecom, MTS Sistema Shyam, Grail Research and Evalueserve.

He holds a bachelor's degree from Indian Institute of Technology, Delhi and an MBA from INSEAD, Fontainebleau.

Dr. Asmi ShahVice President of Data and Technology

Dr. Asmi Shah brings in her data science expertise in dealing with big data, managing and standardizing multidisciplinary large scale biological datasets in the field of drug discovery through genomics and phenomics. She is responsible for the research and development of end to end software products and workflows.

Before joining Anuva, she contributed to the research of drug discovery done with the use of high content/throughput screening on various zebrafish assays at University of Heidelberg in Germany and at Harvard Medical School, USA. She has also taken up various technical roles in product management and software R&D with different corporate industries such as Intel, Rambus and Inform Technologies in the USA and with data analytics startups in India.

Dr. Shah holds a bachelor’s degree from Saurashtra University, India, an MS from San Jose State University, USA and has pursued her PhD from University of Heidelberg, Germany under a Marie Curie fellowship.

Abhishek Kumar Chairman & Executive Director

Abhishek Kumar brings in extensive experience of acquiring, merging, carving out and repositioning companies globally. He founded Joulon - a KKR company, and has led large scale distributed businesses globally.

He holds a bachelor’s degree from Indian Institute of Technology, Kanpur and an MBA from Harvard Business School.