Wow, what an interesting year 2015 has turned out to be. As it comes to a close, I find myself thinking about all the incredible advancements I've seen over the course of my almost 12 years leading DNA Genotek. Narrowing down this year’s list of great accomplishments was quite a challenge. With significant input from the DNA Genotek team and, after much deliberation; the following are the 10 things I will remember most about 2015.
Everyone is talking about the opportunities and the challenges presented by big data. The amount of information accessible to geneticists has resulted in the need for more and more bioinformatics specialists to analyze and translate data into meaningful reports. Data is big and its role in driving better health outcomes is likely to get even bigger in the coming years with many innovations in technologies to capture and decipher key health based discoveries. I am originally from the software market, so it is particularly interesting for me to see the need for sophisticated software capabilities entering research fields such as microbiome.
2. Next Generation Sequencing in the clinic
In 2015, next generation sequencing moved from being primarily a research tool to a diagnostic tool in the clinic. Detailed genetic analysis can now be done in small centers as well as in large genomics facilities. The scalability, speed and accessibility of NGS is making a significant impact in clinical research.
3. Vanderbilt opened enrolment
Vanderbilt opened enrolment for their Case Studies in Personalized Medicine, an online course that starts on January 15th. They are offering this course because they have seen an explosion in understanding of the concepts of personalized medicine over the last decade. Anyone in the world with an Internet connection can take the course for free. What an exciting initiative for anyone wanting to broaden their understanding of one of the hottest topics in health care today.
4. Gut Microbiome Grant Program
In 2015, we launched our first Gut Microbiome Grant Program and we were amazed at the large number of applications we received. We launched this program to help organizations establish pilot programs that will enable scalability and reproducibility in the microbiome research field. We remain committed to fostering innovation in this important field as we develop and commercialize new products and services aimed at accelerating microbiome discovery.
5. The Molecular Club Points Program
This year, we launched a customer appreciation program called The Molecular Club. The program allows research customers who complete enrollment to earn Molecular Club points that can be redeemed for eligible products. We feel that the program is a great way to reward all of our loyal customers and thank them for their support.
6. Autism Speaks and our Helping Hands Program
We embarked on a special Helping Hands initiative with the Austism Speaks organization. We worked with them to create custom packaging for our Oragene® collection kits and provided staff to support a major fundraising event for the MSSNG Project. MSSNG is a collaboration between The Hospital for Sick Children (SickKids), Google and Autism Speaks to create the world’s largest genomic database on autism. Years after it was initially launched, our Helping Hands program continues to use our technology and expertise to break down barriers that impede DNA sample collection or treatment and prevention of disease.
7. New products for infectious diseases
In 2015, our OMNIgene®●SPUTUM product was introduced to dozens of Tuberculosis (TB) collaborators around the world. OMNIgene●SPUTUM is a non-toxic and highly stable reagent that liquefies and minimizes decontamination in sputum samples at the point-of-collection or in the lab while eliminating the need for NaOH/NALC. Although it is early days for our TB product, we have received exciting data and feedback from external evaluations and studies and we look forward to working with key opinion leaders in the TB arena to generate more validation data.
8. Expanding our global regulatory clearances
Our team of regulatory professionals are responsible for ensuring our products are in compliance with the appropriate global guidelines. In some cases, it takes years of effort to secure the appropriate regulatory clearances and approvals. In 2015, we successfully achieved CE marking status in the European Union for our microbiome and infectious disease products. So what does this mean for you? You can feel confident that DNA Genotek has a regulatory plan that will help you stay in compliance with various regulatory bodies regardless of country.
9. Services for microbiome
This year, we added to our services offering by including microbiome analysis. Customers of our OMNIgene●GUT products were looking for a solution that could provide metagenomic analysis of their samples and turned to DNA Genotek. We can now cover the full range of requirements for those embarking on microbiome research.
10. The Giving Spirit of our Employees
It’s difficult to describe how much I am inspired by the employees of DNA Genotek and their giving spirit. Each year, they work together on countless fundraising initiatives that have a positive impact on many organizations in our community. Their creativity and willingness to find a way to make a difference makes DNA Genotek a fun and rewarding place to work every day.
As I wrap up my 2015 highlights list, I would like to sincerely thank our great customers from all over the world. We are so fortunate to serve such wonderful people doing such valuable work. Thank you! On behalf of everyone at DNA Genotek, I would like to wish you all a safe and happy 2016.