Visiting BGI Ltd.

The China National Gene Bank CNGB with the Spin-off BGI Ltd. is one of 10 key infrastructure projects for the development of China to become one of the core centers of our world.

It was a long run from Shenzhen to the institute – more than 1,5 hours. The institute is located outside the city in a rural area and is the place for nearly 6,000 employees (about 60,000 worldwide). It was very impressive how Mrs. Liyi Lin gave us an overview about purpose, strategy and challenges in the genomic field. It was a very professional and modern, state of the art presentation of content, location and facilities.

The Institute and BGI, one of the biggest gene banks in the world together with US, Japan and EU, founded in 1999, is the world’s leading genomics research and development institution. It leads the innovation of genomics with the development model of “production, study and research”. It has passed through branches and industrial chains in more than 100 countries and regions around the world. BGI signed in the stock market in 2017.

The vision is: Preserve for our future. We cannot survive alone on earth – let‘s get the opportunity to survive with other species, this means we have to research and work a lot in the genomic field to support the species to survive on the planet.
The western ethic topic about the use of gene-insights, -technology and -material especially regarding embryos or food is also in debate in China, but it is regulated by rules and an independent ethic Board, declares Mrs. Lin.

Coming from the vision the purpose is described deeper with the following headlines:

  • owned by all, completed by all and shared by all
  • Public welfare
  • openess, supportiveness, effective leadership.

The CNGB is divided in 3 sectors – Living Bio bank, Bio repository, Bio informatics data center – and includes the world’s largest repository of human enteric bacteria and allows a lifelong storage of multiple cell types. There is a high grade of partnering with the other gene banks in the world, with hospitals worldwide and they negotiate also with pharmaceutical companies like Merck or Roche. With the partnering they strictly follow the belt and one road strategy.

BGI with its global genomics services on the other hand innovates a new storage technology, has a modern sequencing technology and built in 2010 the new genomics factory. The Chinese company wants to become the Intel of personalized medicine, which is described in the goals to reach 2030 life digitization in China and 2040 in the world. It has a very high capacity and capability in working with artificial life. The DNA sequencing and also the research fields are focused on plant, animal, metagenetics, epigenetics, human and microbial. They support discovering pharma solutions especially in oncology and immunology.

Overall, we got a deep impression in a very special field of the research of life. Once again, we saw that we face the golden era in China and that the country focuses all power in discovering a field and brings it forward, when the decision was made.

Blog by Michael Kempf

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