On September 9th 2019, we celebrate our 20th anniversary. We thank all of you for being an integral part of this extraordinary journey, 20 years of genomic discovery and technological innovation.
Founding - Human Genome Project
In 1990 the Human Genome Project (HGP) was formally launched.
In 1997 the founding members of BGI decided to participate in the Human Genome Project from Zhangjiajie, Hunan Province, China.
In November 1997, the co-founders of BGI delivered their strategic vision on contributing 1% of the sequencing to the International Human Genome Project, which gave birth to BGI.
BGI was founded on September 9, 1999, in Beijing by Wang Jian, Yu Jun, Yang Huanming and Liu Siqi as a non-governmental independent research institute.
BGI’s specific contribution to HGP was to sequence Chromosome 3 of the human genome.
The HGP spent nearly US$3 billion to sequence the first human genome, and 15 years later it costs less than US$600 to generate a human genome a on BGI’s latest platform MGISEQ-T7.
HGP ushered in a new era in medicine, but it also led to significant advances in the DNA sequencing technology.
World’s First Completion of the Draft of Rice Genome Sequence
BGI completed a rice genome sequencing program that signifies a new beginning of species science and industrial research. BGI’s world’s first completion of the draft of rice genome sequence that contributed to the agricultural research in yields and food security of this one of the oldest crops in human history.
Plant and animal genomics is one of the major focuses of BGI’s’ extensive research over the past two decade. BGI’s have published 149 papers on plant and animal genomics including 87 on animal genomics and 62 on plant genomics, which makes up 28% of the total number of papers published in the world on the plant and animal genomics and 31% of the total number of papers published on species.
Contribution to Fighting SARS
BGI completed the first genome sequence of the Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) virus and soon developed the first diagnostic kit for SARS detection in 2003;
In May 2003, BGI donated 300,000 SARS diagnostic kits for clinical application to the affected regions in need.
Gut Microbiome Study
BGI published a proof-of-principle metagenomics study in Nature on March 4, 2010, using short read sequencing to catalog and characterize the microbial genes present in the human gut. The work was listed as “Insights of the Decade” by Science. The study continues to achieve significant advances. BGI established pan-genome association analysis technology in 2012 revolutionising the disease clinical research. In 2019 BGI published 1,520 reference genomes from cultivated human gut bacteria enabling functional microbiome analyses.
China National GeneBank (CNGB)
Driven by BGI’s strong advocacy, the National Development and Reform Commission and Shenzhen City Government funded the construction of CNGB in 2016. BGI is responsible for the construction and manages current operation of CNGB. As one of the national major strategic technological infrastructure, CNGB is a comprehensive open-access gene bank of biological genetic resource storage, reading, and utilisation.
On September 22, 2016, the China National GeneBank operated by BGI was officially opened in Dapeng, Shenzhen covering over 47,500m2, with an integrated structure of “Three Banks and Two Platforms” consisting of a Biorepository, Bioinformatics Data Centre and Living Biobank, and a Digitalization Platform and Synthesis and Editing Platform. CNGB’s annual output capacity is 15 Pb, equivalent to the WGS data of about 150,000 people, and its annual processing capacity is 500,000 samples.
Synthetic Yeast Genome
7 papers on the findings of an international yeast chromosome consortium study that BGI is heavily involved in were published in Science as the cover story and a special feature in the 2017 March issue. This project enables BGI to establish a high throughput automated synthetic biological platform and synthesize the first eukaryote which starts a new era of synthetic biology.
BGI Genomics Listed on Shenzhen Stock Exchange
On July 14, 2017, BGI Genomics, an independent division of BGI Group, announced its initial public offering (IPO), and was listed on the Shenzhen Chi-Next exchange, China's NASDAQ-style board of growth enterprises, of the Shenzhen Stock Exchange (Trading code: 300676). BGI’s vision is using genomics to benefit the mankind.
Non-invasive Prenatal Genetic Screening (NIPT)
Down Syndrome is a genetic occurrence caused by extra material in chromosome 21 that results in intellectual disability. The estimated incidence of Down Syndrome is between 1 in 1,000 to 1 in 1,100 live births worldwide, and 1 in 600 to 1 in 800 in China. BGI’s NIFTY® screening services have been made available for millions of families in China, and even funded by the governmental social healthcare insurance in many municipalities in China such as Hebei, Shenzhen, Fuyang, Changsha and more. As of Jul. 2019 BGI has provided more than 4.3 million expecting mothers with reliable genetic tests, among which 26,000 were tested positive for abnormalities. NIFTY ® test is available in more than 100 countries worldwide including Europe, Americas, Asia and Pacific.
On October 4, 2018, BGI published groundbreaking research in the leading academic journal Cell on the largest study to date of the Chinese population. BGI analyzed the world’s largest set of genome data from pregnant women, a total 141,431 expecting mothers from across China. The genomic analyses from non-invasive prenatal testing (NIPT) revealed new genetic associations, patterns of viral infections, and history in Chinese populations.
Proprietary High Throughput Genetic Sequencer
It cost US$3 billion over the course of 13 years to generate the first human genome sequence as part of the Human Genome Project back in 2003. 15 years later MGI, a subsidiary of BGI Group, introduced its newest model of genetic sequencer in October 2018, MGISEQ-T7, the most powerful next generation sequencer, taking production capacity of the instrument to a new level which can process 60 human genomes’ sequence within 24 hours and significantly reduce the sequencing cost down to US$600 per human genome. Based on its proprietary technology and perpetual drive for innovation MGI is the only Chinese company among the three clinical genetic sequencer producers in the world, bringing the power of choice and new applications to genomics markets all over the world. There are over 1200 MGI sequencers installed in 22 countries worldwide to date.