This year, Illumina accomplished something that had never been done before: we hosted a meeting called Understand Your Genome where we provided whole-genome sequencing and interpretation for attendees. In order to have their genomes sequenced, attendees were required to obtain prescriptions from physicians and provide blood samples. The Illumina CLIA lab performed whole-genome sequencing and interpreted 340 genes associated with 140 different diseases. Last week brought together a group of 64 individuals eager to learn more about their personal genomes, 48 of whom had a genome sequenced through the Understand Your Genome process.
Everyone in the room was charged up to hear about how the leaders in this field are addressing the complexity of understanding genomes. With talks from Jay Flatley, Eric Topol, George Tsongalis, Matt Ferber, Howard Jacobs, and Robert Green, the agenda was stacked from the onset, but we found that the attendees were most excited about receiving their genomes. Attendees were able to request paper copies of their clinical reports from their physicians before the event, but for many of them, that was just enough to whet their appetites. What they really wanted to do was explore the details of their genomes with Illumina’s My Genome app. Each attendee who had his or her genome sequenced also received an iPad with the MyGenome app installed and their genome pre-loaded. We waited until the second day of the meeting to deliver the iPads and for some attendees the wait was too long! For me, while the entire meeting was packed with excitement, the fun truly started after the attendees received their iPads. We provided a brief workshop about the iPad itself before launching into a discussion about how genomic information should be delivered and how delivery methods vary between recipients—physicians, clinical researchers, and patients.
In alignment with Illumina’s mission to improve human health by unlocking the power of the genome, we will continue to have Understand Your Genome events, not only here in the US, but around the world. I can’t wait until the next Understand Your Genome event—we are going to do it all over again in April 2013. It will be fascinating to see how far we go in the next six months.
Update: Registration is now open for the next UYG, which will be held May 14-15, 2013! Get all the details here, and read GenomeWeb's coverage of the October 2012 event here.