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J. Craig Venter’s Human Longevity is about health and longevity

In a media briefing hosted in San Diego, Calif., J. Craig Venter—best known as the man who raced against the international Human Genome Project to assemble the first whole human genome sequence in the early 2000s—today announced the opening of a new commercial company, Human Longevity, Inc., to apply genetic sequencing on a massive scale to some of the most intractable questions about human health and aging.

“Thirteen years ago it cost approximately one hundred million dollars and took nine months to sequence my genome,” said Venter in his announcement. “Today, the cost of sequencing, thanks to this tremendous technology change, is down to about a thousand dollars a genome, and we’re scaling up to do tens of thousands of genomes in the same timeframe.”

By “we,” Venter was not referring to the scientific community as a whole, but to Human Longevity, Inc. specifically. In a move that would be shocking from almost anyone else, Venter declared that his brand-new company’s sheer sequencing power will be leapfrogging the world’s best-established genomic research centers, such as the Broad Institute.

“We’re building the largest human genome sequencing center in the world, using the latest Illumina technology,” said Venter. The latest Illumina technology would be the famous “thousand-dollar genome” instrument, the HiSeq X, which at a pace of five whole human genomes a day is by far the fastest sequencer in existence.

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