BioForward is reaching out to members to highlight their organizations through a new member profile feature to tell more of their stories. Illumina agreed to be interviewed as a part of our efforts to heighten the awareness of our region and integrated health solutions approach.

About Illumina: At Illumina, we’re on a mission to improve human health around the world by unlocking the power of the genome. Genomics will change everything—from how we diagnose and treat cancer to how we feed the world’s population. Our goal is to apply innovative technologies to the analysis of genetic variation and function, making studies possible that were not even imaginable just a few years ago. It is a mission-critical focus to deliver innovative, flexible, and scalable solutions to meet the needs of our customers. As a global company that places high value on collaborative interactions, rapid delivery of solutions, and providing the highest level of quality, we strive to meet this challenge. Illumina’s innovative sequencing and array technologies are fueling groundbreaking advancements in life science research, translational and consumer genomics, and molecular diagnostics. Illumina is a world-wide organization with major campuses in San Diego, Madison, Singapore, Hayward, and Cambridge, besides sales and service offices around the world.  

What do you find valuable about being a member of BioForward Wisconsin?

BioForward provides us with opportunities to network with other members of the regional and state biotechnology community, and thereby learn about how they are contributing to the advancement of science and improved human health, as well as how they respond to business and societal challenges.

What are the key areas of or achievements by your organization that are impacting the state of Wisconsin and the overall biohealth industry?

Unlike many other technologies that might revolutionize human health, sequencing the human genome is here today and improving human health on a daily basis, whether for the diagnosis of disease, noninvasive prenatal testing, personalized medicine, detection of pathogens (like COVID variants), or population health studies. Illumina is leading the way in all these uses of sequencing and creating more innovations for sequencing and health care in the future.

What about the future of research, medical, technological innovation excites you the most?

We are an applied genomics technology company and the global leader in DNA sequencing and array-based technologies. At the intersection of biology and technology, genomics is having a transformative effect across everything from healthcare and sustainable agriculture to data storage. Our first products enabled researchers to explore DNA on an entirely new scale. This helped to create the first map of gene variations associated with health, disease, and drug response. This set the groundwork for many other discoveries in the future.

Why Wisconsin? What does Wisconsin (and/or Madison/Milwaukee) offer for your company and/or your/its families?  

Wisconsin, in general, and Dane County in particular, is an attractive location for Illumina because of the concentration of other biotechnology companies, the University of Wisconsin Madison campus and nearby System schools, as well as the availability of space for growth, reasonable cost of living, and access to a high-quality workforce in all disciplines, not just science and engineering.

What would you recommend about or say to others about Wisconsin’s biohealth industry and research institutions?

While the current Madison campus is key component of Illumina’s long-term strategy, the original decision to base a presence in Madison was primarily based on two factors. First, the technology that brought Illumina to Madison was based originally on inventions from the University of Wisconsin and so having a presence in Wisconsin encourages access to future UW inventions.  Second, the long legacy of protein biochemistry and manufacturing expertise in Madison makes locating a protein manufacturing facility in Madison more sustainable. 

What is one thing others may not know about your organization?

We have a Nobel Prize winner and a former US FDA Commissioner on our Board of Directors.