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Accelerating the Genomic Revolution

June 23, 2014


The Digital Health SIG presents…

Genomics_SIG event

Accelerating the Genomic Revolution: How the Next Generation of Startups Are Cementing San Diego’s Position as the Global Epicenter for Clinical Genomics

The San Diego region has long been established as a top genomics hub, with leaders in the space, Illumina and Life Technologies (Thermo Fisher), calling it home. The technologies advanced by these companies, particularly Illumina’s latest sequencer that enabled the $1000 genome, is transforming the genomics space from pure research to clinical uses, with non-invasive prenatal testing (NIPT) and cancer diagnostics the first areas to be significantly impacted.

However, this evolution of genomic medicine has resulted in new bottlenecks. Utilizing the strong know how and talent in the region, a new wave of San Diego-based startup companies are tackling the roadblocks hindering the broad use of genomics in the clinic, and are making waves around the globe.

Our panelists include Illumina, the current leader in the next-generation sequencing industry, Sequenom, a front runner in the rapidly expanding NIPT market, as well as  startups such as Edico Genome, which is dramatically reducing the cost and time required for data analysis, from 24 hours to 18 minutes, and AllSeq, the creators of an online sequencing marketplace that matches researchers and clinicians with sequencing providers. These market leaders and startups are solving some of the tough problems impeding the growth of clinical genomics and paving the way for a second wave of new companies in this burgeoning space.

San Diego’s unrivaled talent pool resulting from its combined tech and biotech heritage, as well as a solid venture capital and incubator infrastructure positions the city as the ideal launching pad from which genomic startup companies can flourish.

Dr. Alex Dickinson
Senior Vice President, Strategic Initiatives, Illumina
Dr. Alex Dickinson is Illumina’s senior vice president of strategic initiatives. His group’s responsibilities include nation-scale population sequencing projects and the development of software for new sequencing applications. Previously Alex was CEO of Helixis, a molecular diagnostic startup he co-founded with Nobel Laureate David Baltimore; the company was acquired by Illumina in 2010. He was also the co-founder and CEO of Luxtera, a leading supercomputer chip company. Alex began his career as a researcher at AT&T Bell Labs. He has been awarded over 30 patents covering a range of inventions including the camera and fingerprint technologies widely used in cell phones. He holds a Ph.D. from the University of Adelaide, Australia, and an MBA from Columbia University in New York.

Sean Freeman
Leader, Corporate Development, Thermo Fisher Scientific
Sean leads Thermo Fisher Scientific’s corporate development efforts for its legacy Life Technology business.  His responsibilities include screening, negotiating and managing material transactions including M&A, licensing and venture investments, as well as managing its existing life sciences venture portfolio. Prior to his role as Head of Corporate Ventures and M&A at Life Technologies, Sean worked at Merrill Lynch in New York as a healthcare-focused M&A investment banker.  He has worked directly on over $100Bn in transactions, in the capacities of venture investor, investment banker, diligence advisor and corporate M&A lead.  An active advisor to new and emerging companies, he holds the Chartered Financial Analyst designation, and earned an MBA from the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania, where he also was the MBA Graduation speaker alongside Alan Greenspen. He is an active supporter of the San Diego chapter of the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation and the Boys and Girls Club of Carlsbad.

Felix Frueh
Chief Scientifc Officer, Human Longevity Inc.
Felix Frueh is a respected thought leader in personalized medicine with seventeen years of R&D, management and policy experience. As CSO, Frueh leads all genomic operations including non-clinical microbiome testing, high throughput, next generation genomic sequencing, and research collaborations and partnerships including the program with the University of California, San Diego/Moores Cancer Center. Frueh is also instrumental in guiding HLI’s collaborations and partnerships with the pharmaceutical and diagnostic industry.

Prior to joining HLI Frueh was Executive Partner at Opus Three LLC, a life sciences consulting firm advising pharmaceutical and diagnostic companies on scientific, regulatory, and reimbursement strategies for medical products in the personalized health care space. He was an Entrepreneur-in-Residence at Third Rock Ventures, a Boston-based venture capital firm, where he provided scientific and strategic input for the formation of new and the advancement of existing portfolio companies. Before joining Third Rock, Frueh was President of the Medco Research Institute, leading Medco’s real-world, health economics and outcomes research-oriented initiatives and collaborations after having formed Medco’s personalized medicine research and development organization. Before joining Medco, Frueh was the first Associate Director for Genomics at the U.S. FDA, where he built and led the core genomics review team in CDER, and chaired the first FDA-wide, interdisciplinary pharmacogenomics review group (IPRG).

Frueh has been a member of various working groups on genetics and genomics at the FDA and Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS). He is the recipient of numerous awards, including the FDA Commissioner’s Special Citation. He serves on the board of the Personalized Medicine Coalition and is also a board member at Enterome Biosciences. Frueh is a Fellow of the American College of Clinical Pharmacology, adjunct faculty member at the Institute for Pharmacogenomics and Individualized Therapy (IPIT) at the University of North Carolina (UNC) and held faculty appointments in the Departments of Pharmacology and Medicine at Georgetown University in Washington, DC. Frueh was a postdoctoral fellow at Stanford University and the University of Basel in Switzerland, where he also received his PhD in biochemistry (magna cum laude).

Dr. Mathias Ehrich
Senior Vice President, Research and Development, Sequenom, Inc.
Dr. Ehrich serves as Sequenom’s Sr. Vice President of Research and Development. Prior to his current position Dr. Ehrich served as Sr. Director, Research and Development. Dr. Ehrich joined Sequenom in 2001 in the company’s Hamburg offices, subsequently he served in various scientific and management roles within the Sequenom R&D department. His contributions include the development of a high throughput quantitative DNA methylation analysis method as well as a panel for the characterization for somatic mutations. Before joining Sequenom Dr. Ehrich worked as a resident in the neonatal intensive care unit in the Children’s Hospital of Altona, Hamburg. Dr. Ehrich received his MD in from the University of Hamburg where he focused the anti-oxidative properties of vitamins in Thalassemia patients.

Pieter Van Rooyen, Ph.D.
President and CEO, Edico Genome
Pieter has more than 20 years of experience inventing, developing and successfully commercializing technologies in industries including semiconductors, wireless, health care, life sciences, image processing and retail automation, with a portfolio of over 110 granted patents in these areas. His passion for bringing to market innovative technologies has led to the formation and funding of a number of technology start-ups with significant return to investors. Prior to Edico Genome, Pieter was involved in the emerging mobile health industry where mobile phone technology enables innovative health care delivery in underdeveloped communities. Pieter also co-founded ecoATM (acquired in 2013 by Outerwall (NASDAQ:OUTR) for $350 mil.) and Zyray Wireless (acquired in 2004 by Broadcom Corporation (NASDAQ:BRCM) for $100 mil.).

Michael Heltzen
Chairman and Co-Founder, AllSeq
Michael Heltzen is a Danish Serial Entrepreneur with focus on sequencing and bioinformatics technologies and markets. His current position is as Chairman and Co-founder of (The Sequencing Marketplace) and furthermore he is an active seed investor in handpicked Genomics Startups. Having lived and worked out of Europe (CLC bio, BlueSEQ, Startup City, among others) and Asia (BGI and CLC bio Asia) Michael recently moved from Denmark to San Diego to begin a new chapter in his ambitious career but still focusing on Genomics. Michael is one of the most networked people in industry of Bioinformatics and Next Gen Sequencing, and has been involved in a lot of Genomics research projects incl. leading one of the very first Human Genome projects in the world.

Ali Torkamani
, Ph.D.
Director of Genome Informatics and Drug Discovery, The Scripps Translational Science Institute, Assistant Professor of Molecular and Experimental Medicine, The Scripps Research Institute
Co-Founder and Chief Science Officer, Cypher Genomics
Ali Torkamani, Ph.D., who is an Assistant Professor and Director of Drug Discovery at STSI & Assistant Professor of Molecular and Experimental Medicine at TSRI, is a leader in the scientific field of quantitative genetics and genomics. By analyzing genetic and genomic data of many types in a systems biology framework, he hopes to advance scientific understanding about the genetic mechanisms of human diseases. Believing that complex human disease mechanisms can be fully understood only in the context of the whole biological system, Ali conducts studies that integrate mutation, gene expression and epigenetic data. Applying computational techniques to detect mutations that contribute to cancer initiation and pathogenesis is among his research interests.In addition to quantitative analysis of genetic data, he produces computational tools for generation, analysis and interpretation of genomic data; including specialized target capture, gene expression and sequence analysis methodologies. As a reflection of his productivity, he has authored numerous publications reflecting a variety of computational techniques.He was awarded the B.S. degree in chemistry at Stanford University and the Ph.D. degree in biomedical sciences at UC San Diego. Prior to his promotion to the Assistant Faculty position at STSI, he was a research scientist and Dickinson Fellow at the institute during 2008 to 2009.In addition to conducting research, Ali lectures in STSI’s clinical trial design graduate course in the Master’s Degree in Clinical & Translational Investigation and the Training Program in Translational Research for Advanced Doctoral Students programs.

Noel Gillespie, Partner, Procopio
Nate Heintzman, Visiting Scientist, Collaborative Research and User Innovation, Dexcom Inc.
Clint McClellan, Sr. Director of Business Development, Qualcomm Life
Alean Kirnak, President, Software Partners, LLC
Peter Pardee, VP Business Development, Hughes Network Systems, LLC
Alex Robertson, CEO, New Avenue Solutions, Chairman, MediAccess Solutions, LLC
Carlos Nunez, Chief Medical Officer, CareFusion
Evangelene Lu, Founder and Principle, LU’s Consulting
Shannon Burgess, Founder and President, Phase Two, LLC

Thursday, July 24th 2014

5:30 PM Registration/Networking/Refreshments
6:00 PM Program Begins
7:30 PM Program Ends


6450 Sequence Drive
San Diego, CA 92121

Pre-Registration: (Please pre-register by Noon on 7/23/14)
$10.00 – CommNexus Sponsor***
$20.00 – Non-Sponsor
FREE – Mentor Sponsor**
FREE – Students, Military & Press*

At the Door:
$20.00 – CommNexus Sponsor
$30.00 – Non-Sponsor
FREE – Mentor Sponsor
FREE – Students, Military & Press

CLICK HERE for a list of CommNexus Sponsors




Contact Brittany Bjerke at


June 23, 2014
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