Why Are Sequencing Costs Falling in Italy and Europe?

Why Are Sequencing Costs Falling in Italy and Europe?

In an earlier commentary, we argued that sequencing costs fell dramatically without having sufficient support system built up due to misguided central planning of NIH. From 2000 onward, US government funded all kinds of projects to get ‘human genome sequenced for cheaper than $1000’ without thinking about consequences. In a market economy, other components of ecosystem would have adjusted naturally.

Instead of trusting our words, take a look at the semiconductor industry. Rarely do you hear that microprocessors became very advanced but RAM companies were left in the same stage as in early 90s. From time to time, companies do miscalculate and create glut for their products. However, such companies get punished and go out of business. The same is not true for bureaucrats and philosophers hired by government.

Luca Venturini (who we believe is from Italy) wrote to us in twitter -


The answer is easy. When world’s largest economy gets more and more centrally planned, every other smaller country and economy will have to suffer from the consequences. Source

Speaking of prices of sequencing and other biological instruments, US government is the largest elephant in the room. How big? Here is the relevant chart from our trends section, which we reproduce below. In Italy, you buy Illumina machines, not Italian sequencing instruments, right?


Among all NIH bodies, cancer agencies have the highest amount of money. As a result, everyone tries to please them, everyone dances in the tune of their policies and at the least everyone tries to link their research finding with cancer. If tomorrow NIH shuts down cancer agency and allocates the entire fund to stomach flu of Goblins, we will see an explosion in the number of experts studying stomach flu in Goblin.

Here was his follow up question -


Let us compare the situation with another central planning gone amok. Since end of world war II and Bretton Woods conference, all world governments decided to tie their banking system with US dollar. As a result, their economies get strongly affected by interest rate manipulation of US central bank. Over the last 15 years, US central bank kept the interest rate too low causing housing bubbles all over the world. In Italy, Greece, Spain and Ireland ‘mere fact that interest rates were low pushed people to borrow more to buy houses’. You now see the consequences, don’t you? Similarly in case of sequencing, you are talking about consequences (symptoms) and we are trying to identify the disease. If we do not try to find the right disease, the proposed centrally planned solution will create another glut somewhere else - maybe in GWAS studies.

Written by M. //