Tooting each other's horns

SAS, NCGR to integrate and co-market next-gen sequencing data analysis tools

Amy Swinderman
CARY, N.C.—JMP Genomics, a business unit of global business intelligence software developer SAS Institute Inc., announced last month it will expand its ongoing collaboration with the National Center for Genome Resources (NCGR), a non-profit research center that develops bioinformatics and computational biology tools to support genetic analysis and discovery. The groups, which have used JMP Genomics in various scientific research projects at NCGR, will continue to work together by integrating and co-marketing their software tools for next-generation sequencing data analysis.

Under the expanded partnership, the companies will continue to work together and offer each other feedback on future versions of their software. They will co-market each other's services and are already demonstrating each other's capabilities at various industry trade shows and events.

"Our collaboration has become a formal success story, and we wanted to formalize our relationship by promoting them to our customers, and vice versa," says Shannon Conners, JMP product manager at SAS. "This is a logical continuation of our collaboration. One of the reasons we get along so well is that the researchers in both of our groups are actively publishing new analysis and data sets in journals and other publications."

NCGR was founded in 1994 to provide databases and analysis for Los Alamos National Laboratory, which had begun sequencing the human genome as part of the Human Genome Project. NCGR researchers generate data using the Illumina Genome Analyzer II and mine it using Alpheus, a Web-based analysis system designed for gigabase-scale resequencing efforts born in 2006 from an NCGR collaboration with mesothelioma researchers at Brigham and Women's Hospital and Harvard Medical School. Researchers then import that data into JMP, a desktop data visualization software package, for further statistical analysis.

Faye Schilkey, associate director of NCGR's New Mexico Genome Sequencing Center, says JMP's visualization features give NCGR researchers "immediate insight" into their research findings.

"With our Alpheus analysis system, users can detect variations and gene expression from a secure Web site and reduce the sequencing dataset from tens of thousands to tens (that are significant)," Schilkey says. "This data can then be seamlessly imported into JMP Genomics, and important statistical differences just pop right out."

Conners says the companies work well together because "everyone has an academic mindset, whereas other companies are only creating software and are profit-driven."

"There are definitely a lot of tools out there that people are trying to set up to do everything all in one package," she says. "Few companies have the expertise to go from point A to point Z without some collaborative engagement with other groups. It's not enough to say, 'hey, we're going to stitch some things together.' What we have done is focus on a lot of our core competencies, dealing with sequence data and putting it into a format that is easy to work with downstream." DDN

Amy Swinderman

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