Genetics & Genomics

January 5, 2024

The Alliance for Genomic Discovery welcomes Bristol Myers Squibb, GSK and Novo Nordisk

Bristol Myers Squibb, GSK and Novo Nordisk are the newest members of the Alliance for Genomic Discovery.

Nashville Biosciences, LLC (NashBio), a leading clinical and genomic data company and wholly owned subsidiary of Vanderbilt University Medical Center, in collaboration with Illumina Inc., a global leader in DNA sequencing and array-based technologies, announced three new members of the Alliance for Genomic Discovery (AGD).

Bristol Myers Squibb (BMS), GSK and Novo Nordisk join founding member organizations AbbVie, Amgen, AstraZeneca, Bayer and Merck. Together the pharma members will co-fund the whole-genome sequencing (WGS) of 250,000 DNA samples and have access to the resulting data for use in drug discovery and therapeutic development.

“Together with NashBio and the now eight member organizations in the Alliance for Genomic Discovery, we will generate and analyze more genomic, multimodal phenotypic, and multiomic data in a turnkey manner,” said Joydeep Goswami, chief financial officer and chief strategy and corporate development officer of Illumina. “This rich dataset will enable the discovery of highly actionable therapeutic targets and improve the speed, probability of success, and efficiency of the discovery and development process.”

In 2023, AGD completed whole-genome sequencing of approximately 86,000 of the planned 250,000 DNA samples from VUMC’s BioVU biobank, including the initial diverse ancestry cohort of 35,000 individuals primarily of African ancestry. The AGD members are applying innovative, large-scale analysis tools to the WGS data to help identify disease associations and drug targets for intervention.

“We are thrilled to welcome these latest members to AGD and to work with all of these organizations to advance the study of the genome and improve human health,” said Leeland Ekstrom, PhD, chief executive officer of NashBio. “With this initial phase of the alliance now well underway, we are excited to explore possible future additions of other multiomic data that will expand this incredible resource.”

Launched in 2022 by Illumina and NashBio, the Alliance for Genomic Discovery is a multiyear endeavor aiming to accelerate development of therapeutics through large-scale genomics and the establishment of a preeminent clinical genomic resource. Member companies from pharma and biopharma leverage Illumina next-generation sequencing platforms to identify disease associations and targets for intervention by analyzing whole-genome sequence data derived from VUMC’s BioVU, an extensive, high-quality biobank of more than 250,000 de-identified human DNA samples and associated longitudinal, structured and de-identified clinical data. One of the main objectives of the alliance is to help narrow the gap in the diversity of genomic data, and ultimately work toward a more equitable representation of ancestries in genetic research. Learn more here.