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Solexa Sequencing – Innovator 2010 overall winner

Shankar Balasubramanian collects his Innovator of the Year award. Image: BBSRC

BBSRC’s Innovator of the Year award is designed to recognise and reward high-impact science that has potential to revolutionise a research field and bring major scientific and economic benefits.

Data breakout

Winner BBSRC Overall and Commercial Innovator 2010
<US $10,000 Cost in 2010 of sequencing a human genome
US $600 million Price Solexa company eventually sold for

The 2010 main prize was scooped by the University of Cambridge’s Professor Shankar Balasubramanian who invented Solexa Sequencing, an ultrafast way to sequence DNA.

Balasubramanian’s invention has revolutionised bioscience. By exploiting the fluorescence specific to each of the four base chemicals in DNA and building the system onto a microchip that can handle millions of DNA fragments at the same time, Solexa Sequencing has decreased the time it takes to read a genome by up to 10,000 times.

An astonishing advance over previous sequencing techniques, it means that the era of personalised medicine is a step closer, where drug treatments and nutritional regimes could be tailored to an individual’s genetic makeup.