A Comprehensive Cancer Center Designated by the National Cancer Institute

Pathways to Discovery: Spring 2012

Back to TOC

Next-Generation Sequencing Delivers Faster Genomic Information for Researchers

Next-generation sequencing is taking genomics to a whole new level.
—Pieter Faber, PhD

Since cancer is a complex biologic process triggered by genetic changes, knowing where to look among the three billion-DNA base pairs in the human genome would be nearly impossible without the aid of the latest DNA sequencing machines and computer analysis tools.

"Modern technology has the ability to sequence whole genomes in days," said
Pieter Faber, PhD, operational director of UChicago's Genomics Core Facility.

Through the Genomics Core, researchers have access to sophisticated technology
that can monitor and explore the genome at unbelievable speeds. In the past year, the facility has acquired two LifeTech SOLiDâ„¢ 5500xl systems to perform next-generation sequencing and the Illumina HiScanSQ system, which can perform next-generation sequencing and microarrays, used to measure gene expression.

The first human genome sequence was determined by sequencing 10,000 base pairs at a time. Next-generation technology allows for much higher throughput and greater sensitivity. "The newer machines can sequence a couple of billions of base pairs in one run," said Dr. Faber. "Next-generation sequencing is taking genomics to a whole new level."

Dr. Faber explained that the original purpose of the technology was to sequence whole genomes, but researchers soon realized high-throughput sequencing can answer many of the same questions as microarrays but provide much more robust data.

The facility, which is located on campus at the Knapp Center for Biomedical Discovery, offers researchers state-of-the-art genomics capabilities, as well as data analysis services in partner-ship with a new bioinformatics core being developed by Robert Grossman, PhD, professor of medicine and chief research informatics officer.

These new capabilities will help predict cancer behavior and response to therapy,
which will ultimately help design personalized cancer therapies.

Genomics Core