Open Ion Community Fuels Race to Win Three $1M Prizes

Ion PGM sequencer protocols released, RecognitION rewards initiated & Life Grand Challenges long-read dataset posted

Sep 30, 2011, 09:00 ET from Life Technologies Corporation

CARLSBAD, Calif., Sept. 30, 2011 /PRNewswire/ -- Life Technologies Corporation (NASDAQ: LIFE) today announced open access to protocols detailing key steps of the Ion PGM™ sequencer workflow. Methods delivering the scalability, simplicity and speed that are at the core of Ion semiconductor sequencing are now openly posted on the Ion Community. Thousands of Ion PGM users, as well as scientists that are closely watching the growth trajectory of Ion semiconductor sequencing, have already joined the Ion Community. The upgraded Ion Community will connect and multiply the contributions of Ion PGM users as they compete to win $1M—significantly amplifying internal R&D efforts.  

"Democratizing sequencing is not only about making it simple and affordable," said Ion Torrent Founder and CEO Dr. Jonathan M. Rothberg. "It's about openly sharing protocols, datasets and source code to accelerate application development within the scientific community, and making sequencing accessible to every laboratory. This openness will soon result in our customers exceeding internal record runs for all of our chips."

A new Life Grand Challenges dataset, sequencing protocols, and details of the RecognitION program are all available on the upgraded Ion Community website: Over 3,000 users and developers from more than 42 countries are already members of the Ion Community and membership is growing rapidly, with more than 100 new members joining every week. Community members share knowledge in real-time and develop new applications for the Ion PGM sequencer, helping to make it the fastest-selling sequencer in the world.

New Life Grand Challenges Dataset Ion Torrent also released its third round of benchmark data for the Life Grand Challenges competition. Participants are challenged with driving further performance improvement of the Ion PGM sequencer in three areas: sample preparation, base yield and accuracy. To win the $1 million prize in any of these three categories, participants must beat the internal record at Ion Torrent by 2X, through their own protocol improvements.

The latest Grand Challenges E. coli dataset exhibits a typical read length of 213 bp and high quality, (Q20) reads as long as 302 bp. The raw error rate at the 150th base is only 1.1 percent, three times better than today's fluorescence-based sequencing-by-synthesis technologies. An Ion 316 chip was used, which generated 571 Mb of data—more than five times the initial throughput specification of this chip. Aligned bases and source code are available by registering for the Life Grand Challenges on the Ion Community. Entries for this round of the Life Grand Challenges close on Dec. 15, 2011.

"Nothing gets better faster than Ion semiconductor sequencing," said Dr. Maneesh Jain, Vice President of Marketing and Business Development. "The combination of a trillion dollar supply chain, 40 years of accumulated Moore's law, and the simplicity and rapid iteration cycle of Ion PostLight™ sequencing is unprecedented."

Torrent Scout Torrent Scout integrates voltage, base call and alignment data into a single dashboard, providing utility for developers who want to monitor the performance of individual wells on an Ion chip. No other next-generation sequencing platform provides a comparable level of openness and accessibility to raw data.  

RecognitION Program The new RecognitION program acknowledges users' unique and valuable contributions to the Ion Community—with rewards ranging from a T-shirt to an iPad—and culminating in the award of an Ion Personal Genome Machine™ (PGM™) sequencer. Points are accumulated by active participation in the community and are redeemed for rewards.  For example, a response to a discussion earns 2 points, uploading an educational video results in 2000 points, and posting a record PGM run generates 300,000 points—along with $5,000 in cash. Users accumulating 1 million points win an Ion PGM sequencer, as well as a paid trip to a scientific conference.

Follow the Grand Challenges on Facebook at Follow the Grand Challenges on Twitter at!/Grand_Challenge Listen to the Blog Talk interviews at

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About Life Technologies ( Life Technologies Corporation (NASDAQ: LIFE) is a global biotechnology company dedicated to improving the human condition. Our systems, consumables and services enable researchers to accelerate scientific and medical advancements that make life even better. Life Technologies customers do their work across the biological spectrum, working to advance the fields of discovery and translational research, molecular medicine, stem cell–based therapies, food safety and animal health, and 21st-century forensics. The company manufactures both molecular diagnostic and research use only products. Life Technologies' industry-leading brands are found in nearly every life sciences lab in the world and include innovative instrument systems under the Applied Biosystems and Ion Torrent names, as well as the broadest range of reagents with its Invitrogen, GIBCO, Ambion, Molecular Probes and TaqMan® products. Life Technologies had sales of $3.6 billion in 2010, has a workforce of approximately 11,000 people, has a presence in approximately 160 countries and possesses one of the largest intellectual property estates in the life sciences industry, with approximately 3,900 patents and exclusive licenses. For more information on how we are making a difference, please visit our website:

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