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ESHG Retrospective

Luc Smink
| Jul 17, 2012

europe by rail resized 600A few weeks on from ESHG, I find myself once again in Germany travelling by train. It is a great way to reflect on ESHG and what really stood out. I was truly amazed by the changes brought about by Next Generation Sequencing (NGS) in so many different areas of research. However the overriding theme of ESHG for me was the sheer amount of human exomes being sequenced. We reflected on this on other posts, the key question is will this continue? Will the exome give use everything we are looking for? It is clear that people are ready to move exome sequencing into a clinical setting, I think it is also clear that people will do panel sequencing of their key genes of interest, but likely it will not identify all the causes of disease. So what about other approaches to identify human disease?

Will ESHG2013 be the year where the transcriptome will be the talk of the conference or the methylome or even the metagenome? Personally, I think that more integrated approaches will be key, combining data from whole genome or whole exome sequencing with RNA-Seq and other approaches.

I mentioned in the first post, that from the abstracts it is clear that people don’t talk about technology. This was very much echoed during the sessions; technology was mentioned as an aside, and the talks were purely about what the technology enabled.

The other interesting observation was that software vendors were very well represented, suggesting that data analysis has become the bigger focus, as the data generation has become much simpler with improved workflows, higher throughput sequencers etc. What will the future be for data analysis? From my own perspective, I think that a cloud-based solution, while perhaps not suitable for everybody, will be attractive to a large number of research labs. This would eliminate the need to install, maintain, and pay for large amounts of in-house compute power, and it will always run the latest software. However only time will tell whether and how cloud-based computing will be adopted.