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China’s genomics giant plans to open research hub in Cluj

China based biotechnology company BGI – formerly the Beijing Genomics Institute, one of the largest genomics organisations in the world, considers to open research hub in Cluj, local media informs.

BGI delegation has recently met with Vakar Istvan, Vice President of Cluj County Council in a prospecting tour in Southeastern Europe.

China’s genomics giant, once the world’s biggest DNA sequencer for research, wants to open a Genomics and Biological Analysis Center in a university city with a good medical infrastructure.

“At present Cluj County has all the strengths for such a niche investment, as bioinformatics research,” Vakar says.

Among Cluj assets is that the city is about 600 km away from no less than eight European capitals and  ’Avram Iancu’ International Airport is one of the largest in the area. If Cluj will be chosen to open the Chinese medical center, one of the solutions is the Tetarom IV technology park, currently under construction, according to Vakar.

BGI was established in 1999 as the Beijing Genomics Institute and the force behind China’s contribution to the Human Genome Project — it sequenced a small, but symbolic, 1 percent of the genome. Over the next decade, it produced a series of high-profile sequencing breakthroughs, including the genomes of rice, the giant panda, the cucumber, an ancient human and more than 1,000 species of gut bacteria. In 2010 — now based in Shenzhen and known simply as BGI — the company purchased 128 of the world’s most-advanced genome-sequencing machines. Overnight it became the industry’s most prolific player.

The firm gained a reputation as a genome factory. The number of studies based on BGI-sequenced genomes — paid for by scientists from all over the world, who acknowledged BGI scientists’ contributions by making them co-authors — jumped from a handful to hundreds per year.

About Anca Bernovici