DNA Sequencing Pioneer Named BBSRC Innovator of the Year 2010
News Mar 23, 2010
Professor Shankar Balasubramanian has been named as the BBSRC Innovator of the Year, winning £10,000 in recognition of his work on Solexa sequencing, the high speed genome sequencing technology that is revolutionizing bioscience. Professor Balasubramanian received the prize and trophy from Tim Smit of Eden Project fame, who spoke at the awards ceremony and gala dinner at East Wintergardens in London last night.
Prof Balasubramanian from the University of Cambridge is an inventor of Solexa sequencing: an ultrafast method for sequencing DNA which has improved cost and speed by 1,000 to 10,000 fold on previous technologies. Prof Balasubramanian and colleagues founded Solexa Ltd in 1998 and following several rounds of fund raising and the launch of its core product The Genome Analyzer, the company was sold to Illumina for $600M in 2007. The Solexa product currently has 50% market share in next generation sequencing and can sequence a human genome for under $10,000.
Professor Balasubramanian was also the winner of the Commercial Innovator of the Year category with two other category prizes of £5000 awarded to Prof Dave Goulson from the University of Stirling and Dr Michael McArthur from the John Innes Centre. Prof Goulson was the winner of Social Innovator of the Year for his work disseminating findings about bumblebee conservation through the founding of the Bumblebee Conservation Trust. Dr McArthur was the winner of Most Promising Innovator of the Year for his work on using novel antibacterials to combat drug resistant bacterial infections.
Professor Balasubramanian said: "I am delighted to accept the award of BBSRC Innovator of the Year and I do so on behalf of many people who have made important contributions at many stages of the Solexa project. I would
particularly like to acknowledge my departmental colleague, Prof David Klenerman, who I co-founded Solexa with in 1998.
"None of this would have happened without the support of BBSRC. Their backing was essential for the blue skies research that gave rise to our original inventions. The continued funding of fundamental science by BBSRC will be an essential part of future enterprises and ultimately, wealth creation."