Complete Genomics: Top Innovative Company in Biomedicine

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Complete Genomics is one of 10 biomedicine companies included in Technology Review’s 50 Most Innovative Companies (TR50) for 2012 [1].

Complete Genomics

What is a TR50 company? It is a business whose innovations force other businesses to change their strategic course. TR50 companies are nominated by Technology Review’s editors who look for companies that, over the last year, have demonstrated original and valuable technology, are bringing that technology to market at a significant scale, and are clearly influencing their competitors.

Complete Genomics was established in June 2005. Four years later, the company announced that it had sequenced its first human genome. By the end of 2009, Complete Genomics had sequenced 50 human genomes. The company has now significantly increased the throughput in its genome sequencing factory; it sequenced and analyzed 300 complete human genomes in the third quarter of 2010.

Complete Genomics was chosen to be a TR50 company because it developed a computational platform that allows it to assemble DNA sequences into genomes more accurately than other technologies. Complete Genomics performs whole human genome DNA sequencing using proprietary biochemistry based on DNA nanoball arrays and combinatorial probe-anchor ligation sequencing.

Complete Genomics’ proprietary human genome sequencing technology is optimized for the exclusive study of human DNA. The sequencing technology relies on two primary components: DNA nanoball arrays (DNB arrays) and combinatorial probe-anchor ligation reads (cPAL reads). Fluorescence imaging is used to “read” the nucleotide sequence at lower volumes and concentrations of reagents than existing systems. In addition, Complete Genomics’ proprietary instrumentation allows for greater numbers of base reads per image.

Although Complete Genomics delivered data for approximately 1,200 genomes in the first quarter of 2012, it lost $20.2 million dollars [2]. The company recently announced that it has sequenced the genomes of 600 individuals from 20 Mexican-American families to help identify some of the rare variants involved in type 2 diabetes that have eluded researchers [3]. The multigenerational, whole genome sequencing study is thought to be the largest whole genome sequencing family study conducted to date and the first such study of its kind in a Latino population.

Interested in other Top Innovative Companies in Biomedicine? Check them all out with the tag Top Innovative Companies in Healthcare.


  1. The 50 Most Innovative Companies in 2012. Technology Review. Accessed 2012 Apr 10.
  2. Complete Genomics Reports First Quarter 2012 Results. Complete Genomics press release. 2012 May 7.
  3. Whole Genome Sequencing in Type 2 Diabetes Genetic Study. Complete Genomics press release. 2012 May 9.
About the Author

Walter Jessen, Ph.D. is a Data Scientist, Digital Biologist, and Knowledge Engineer. His primary focus is to build and support expert systems, including AI (artificial intelligence) and user-generated platforms, and to identify and develop methods to capture, organize, integrate, and make accessible company knowledge. His research interests include disease biology modeling and biomarker identification. He is also a Principal at Highlight Health Media, which publishes Highlight HEALTH, and lead writer at Highlight HEALTH.