Genomics (DNA sequencing) is a Big Data science and is predicted by some to soon exceed the demands of all other Big Data domains such as astronomy, streaming video, and social media. Hong Kong is at the forefront of this genomic revolution, local researchers making key breakthroughs in circulating DNA based prenatal testing and cancer diagnostics (also predicted to become a multi-billion dollar industry), and hosting the world’s largest sequencing centre in Tai Po (BGI Hong Kong). As we move towards “precision medicine”, all of us as patients will increasingly need to make informed decisions based on how medicines, treatments and lifestyle choices are interact with our genetic background. Despite that, genomic literacy and understanding of the cutting edge work in this rapidly growing field by the Hong Kong public is very poor, with little local awareness as to what it entails, and how it will be soon impacting upon all of their lives. In an era of “direct to consumer” DNA sequencing pioneered by companies such as 23&Me, millions of people now have access to their genome-scale data. Due to perceived ethical issues there can be legal restrictions to what people can do with it, with many in the healthcare industry feeling people should not be trusted to access to their own data.
Countering this, there are a growing numbers of people taking matters into their own hands, carrying out genome blogging, and citizen lead genealogically/ancestry work (e.g. this PLOS paper). A new generation of tools and platforms such as OpenSNP and promethease are democratising access, citizens are crowdfunding their own projects, and genomic apps are even appearing on the market. Just this week the new DNA.Land genomic data sharing portal launched, and over 5,000 people have posted their genomic data in the first few days. For interested potential “genome hackers” we have a number of people at the forefront of this open genomics revolution presenting at this meetup, including Fiona Nielsen of DNAdigest and Bastian Greshake of OpenSNP . For a preview of what to expect see these previous events from DNAdigest and this interview with Bastian, . We’ll cover the tools and resources any non-biologist hacker can get started with (R-, python, bioconductor, and the databases you can find data). Demonstrating that the personal genomics era is already here, we’ll also have a prize draw so lucky participants can get their alcohol metabolism genes sequenced and presented through a fun new genomic app not yet on the market.
The event will attempt to address questions such as:
What questions can you ask of your genetic data?
How much can you do as a citizen scientist, what activities are reserved for academic researchers?
Sign up to this event via the eventbright link and please submit any questions or suggestions for topics related to “Hacking the human genome”. For more experienced genomics experts, the meet follows an all-day workshop on “How do I find human genomics data to power my research?“. The event is hosted at MakerBay in Yau Tong, and we’d like to thank Fiona and Cesar for their help and support in setting the event up.
Monday, October 26th, 7:30pm
Location: MakerBay, 16 Sze Shan Street, C1 Yau Tong Industrial Building Block 2, Yau Tong, Kowloon
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UPDATE 28/10/15: the great folks at MakerBay did a live stream and we can see the archived video version here.