Metrics for DNA: how to make sense of what is going on in contemporary genomics

Our first collaboratory will be held on 2nd December, 2013 in Cambridgeshire to discuss metrics for DNA.

Genomics is possibly one of the most sustained attempts at counting things ever undertaken in the modern life sciences. Genomics and various related ‘omics’ fields have developed a fabulously intricate infrastructure for generating, storing, sorting outand counting data on living things.

This two day workshop brings together genomic researchers, social scientists, various experts and stakeholders to discuss the metrics for genomic data in various contexts ranging across its making, its circulation (through databases and other infrastructures), and its analysis and use in various settings (academic, scientific, clinical, government, commercial,)

A core question is: ‘What kinds of metrics best serve and account for genomics as a counting project?’

There is a veritable deluge of data metrics associated with genomic data: base pairs/genome, cost/base pair, runs/day, Tb/day, Gb/genome, $000s/genome, 15 months ‘doubling time’, as well as all the numbers and counts used in accounts of genomics in practice (18,000 genes; 3 billion base pairs; 2% of the genome; 35 population groups; 23% missing heritability, 100,000 genomes).

These metrics often drive and motivate developments in genomics. Yet at the same time, many discussions, interventions and presentations on genomics suggest an acute awareness of missing metrics; of the need to develop metrics that are more refined or accurate or relevant.

When and for whom and in what contexts are basic metrics, e.g. like cost/base pair, useful? We are interested in finding out about what really counts in genomics today and why.

The organisers of this workshop are Professor Adrian Mackenzie and Dr Ruth McNally. It is part of the ESRC-funded social science project ‘socialising Big Data’. For further information contact;


Dr Sarah Ayling BBSRC Genome Analysis Centre (TGAC)

Professor Neil Hall Advanced Genomics, University of Liverpool

Dr Gurdeep Sagoo Public Health Genomics Foundation

Ms Laura Clarke Resequencing Informatics,  European Bioinformatics Institute (EBI)

Dr Rasko Leinonen European Nucleotide Archive (ENA), European Bioinformatics Institute (EBI)

Dr Will Spooner Eagle Genomics

Mr Chris Hayman Amazon Web Services

Dr Lucy Raymond, Cambridge University


One thought on “Metrics for DNA: how to make sense of what is going on in contemporary genomics

  1. Pingback: Will Genomics England bring down the costs of sequencing? | SLODDO

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