Thursday, 25 August 2016

Optalysys eco-friendly genomics analysis

The amount of power used in a genome analysis is not something I'd ever thought of until I heard about Optalysys, a company developing optical computing that has the potential to be 90% more energy-efficient and 20X faster than than standard (electronic) compute infrastructure. Read on if you are interested in finding out more, and watch the video below - featuring Prof Heinz Wolff!

Optalysys was originally spun out from the University of Cambridge and the technology needs a lot more explanation that I'll give: briefly they split laser light across liquid crystal grids where each "pixel" can be modulated to encode analogue numerical data in the laser beam, this diffracts forming an interference pattern and a mathematical calculation is performed - all at the speed of light. The beam can be split across many liquid crystals to increase the multiplicity and complexity of mathematical operations performed.

Optalysys and the Earlham Institute in Norwich are collaborating on a project to build hardware/software that will be used for metagenomic analysis. This is a long way from comparing 500 matched tumour and normal genomes in an ICGC project; but if Optalysys can build systems to handle this scale then the huge compute processing tasks might be carried out at a fraction of the current costs and whilst running from a standard mains power supply.

PS: do you remember the Great Egg race as fondly as I do?

Wednesday, 24 August 2016

Upcoming Genomics conferences in the UK

It is almost time for the kick off at Genome Science, probably the best organised academic conference in the UK. It runs from August 30th to September 1st next week and sadly I can't be there (just returned from holidays and too much going on). You can hear from a wide range of speakers in a jam packed agenda. This year it is hosted by the University of Liverpool, and the evening entertainment comes from Beatles Tribute Band “The Cheatles”!

What other conferences are available for Genomics in the UK, and which one should you attend if you too can't make it over to Liverpool? The Wellcome Trust Genome Campus is holding their first Single Cell Genomics conference from September 9th (sold-out I'm afraid). Personally I thought that the London Festival of Genomics was excellent and I've high hopes for the January 2017 meeting. 

Often it is word of mouth that brings a conference to my attention, but there are a couple of resources out there to help.
  • AllSeq maintain a list of conferences.
  • GenomeWeb has a similar list, but it seems less focused than AllSeq.
  • NextGenSeek has a list for 2016, but nothing on the cards for 2017 yet.
  • Nature has an events page (searchable) that lists 50 upcoming NGS conferences.

PS: please do let me know if you've particular recommendations on conferences to attend. And do get in touch with the groups above to list your conference on their sites.

PPS: If you can justify it then the HVP/HUGO Variant Detection Training Course - "Variant Effect Prediction" running from 31st October 2016 is in Heraklion, Crete - a beautiful place to learn!