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Huge welcome as Cambridge hosts first Seqera Sessions





The Cambridge setting for Seqera Sessions, Seqera Labs’ latest networking event, proved its value and showcased the city as a global networking hub as a bonus.

The learning and networking session at the Clayton Hotel featured multiple speakers from the local and international life sciences community, including Miika Ahdesmäki, senior director of AstraZeneca, and Jennifer Harrow, director of phenomics data operations.

The Seqera Sessions event at The Clayton Hotel with, from left, Adrianto Wirawan, director of bioinformatics engineering, Genomics England; Anthony Underwood of the Centre for Genomic Pathogen Surveillance; Evan Floden, CEO and co-founder, Seqera Labs; Jennifer Harrow, director of phenomics data operations, AstraZeneca; and Miika Ahdesmäki, senior director in AstraZeneca Early Data Science, R&D Oncology. Picture: Keith Heppell
The Seqera Sessions event at The Clayton Hotel with, from left, Adrianto Wirawan, director of bioinformatics engineering, Genomics England; Anthony Underwood of the Centre for Genomic Pathogen Surveillance; Evan Floden, CEO and co-founder, Seqera Labs; Jennifer Harrow, director of phenomics data operations, AstraZeneca; and Miika Ahdesmäki, senior director in AstraZeneca Early Data Science, R&D Oncology. Picture: Keith Heppell

Seqera was founded by Barcelona-based Seqera Labs as an open science project, says Evan Floden, CEO and co-founder of Seqera Labs.

“There have been an array of challenges facing researchers and scientists working in global health over the last few years as the data processing involved in scientific research has exploded both in terms of volume and complexity,” Evan told the Cambridge Independent. “Sequencing a genome may soon take less than 24 hours instead of an average of two weeks, for example, and the potential impact of this rapid acceleration is immense. However, with this increase in data comes some big challenges – all of which are contingent on both the quality of the data and its management.

“I wanted to find a way to better streamline the process and so, with the help of my fellow co-founder Paolo Di Tommaso, we set out to build a platform that would help scientists store and process large volumes of sequencing data more effectively. Hence, the Nextflow project was born.

At The Clayton Hotel are, from left, Adrianto Wirawan, director of bioinformatics engineering, Genomics England; Anthony Underwood of the Centre for Genomic Pathogen Surveillance; Evan Floden, CEO and co-founder, Seqera Labs; Jennifer Harrow, director of phenomics data operations, AstraZeneca; and Miika Ahdesmäki, senior director in AstraZeneca Early Data Science, R&D Oncology. Picture: Keith Heppell Pictures: Keith Heppell
At The Clayton Hotel are, from left, Adrianto Wirawan, director of bioinformatics engineering, Genomics England; Anthony Underwood of the Centre for Genomic Pathogen Surveillance; Evan Floden, CEO and co-founder, Seqera Labs; Jennifer Harrow, director of phenomics data operations, AstraZeneca; and Miika Ahdesmäki, senior director in AstraZeneca Early Data Science, R&D Oncology. Picture: Keith Heppell Pictures: Keith Heppell

“As the project gained traction with other scientists, Paolo and I launched Seqera Labs from its base in Barcelona to reduce the cost and complexity of working with large reels of data, whilst also allowing its users to share their own diagnostic data for further analysis. This popularity is largely owned to the ‘open science’ approach, which we’ve seen firsthand through those using our platform, and is contributing to an ongoing international collaboration between researchers and scientists across the globe.”

The inaugural Cambridge event had been productive, and useful, he added.

“Our first Seqera Sessions in Cambridge was extremely successful and brought together industry leaders looking for the next breakthrough in the genomics space. We had talks from industry heavyweights like AstraZeneca and Genomics England alongside rising stars, and it was attended by CIOs, CTOs, leaders from cloud engineering and all those interested in large-scale genomics analysis.

Seqera Sessions panel at The Clayton Hotel with, from left Anthony Underwood of the Centre for Genomic Pathogen Surveillance; Evan Floden, CEO and co-founder, Seqera Labs; Jennifer Harrow, director of phenomics data operations, AstraZeneca; and Miika Ahdesmäki, senior director in AstraZeneca Early Data Science, R&D Oncology. Picture: Keith Heppell
Seqera Sessions panel at The Clayton Hotel with, from left Anthony Underwood of the Centre for Genomic Pathogen Surveillance; Evan Floden, CEO and co-founder, Seqera Labs; Jennifer Harrow, director of phenomics data operations, AstraZeneca; and Miika Ahdesmäki, senior director in AstraZeneca Early Data Science, R&D Oncology. Picture: Keith Heppell

“While the UK holds a global leadership status in genomic sequencing, it has never been more important to consolidate the tools needed to process this data and improve patient care and public health.

“We are looking forward to hosting more Seqera Sessions in Cambridge. Having the opportunity to engage in such rich and enlightening discussions with the local biotech and pharma community was the highlight of our trip, and learning the ways in which these organisations are helping to accelerate scientific innovation.”



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