HUGO Committee on Genomics & Bioeconomy 

Message from the Committee Chair, Prof. Gerardo Jimenez-Sanchez, Mexico: 

The rapid advancement of genomics and its related technologies has significantly increased the number of areas where its impact becomes relevant. As a result, specific applications begin to arise in areas like healthcare, agriculture, livestock, and environmental remediation, among others. 

The continuous improvements in DNA sequencing technologies and drop of its cost have stimulated genome projects of over 4,000 species, and it is likely to lead to the sequence of whole human genomes for less than a $1,000 dollars in the coming future. In addition, initial recognition of genomic biomarkers associated to drug adverse effects has led to new regulations in which a number of labels of FDA approved drugs now include pharmacogenomic information. These trends, along with a continuous increase in the number of loci contributing to common human diseases will power the routine use of genomic information in medical practice. Moreover, convergence of life sciences including genomics and engineering has led to new disciplines such as synthetic biology with significant potential to generate solutions of important economic impact. 

Applications of biotechnology to primary production, health and industry are resulting in an emerging “bioeconomy” contributing to a significant share of the economic output. According to the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), genomics is becoming one of three major components to the bioeconomy. If the current trends continue, genomics will soon have the ability to generate important socioeconomic contributions to meet global challenges related to availability of food, water, energy, and healthcare for a population that will increase by a third in the next 20 years, and that already is under growing environmental stresses. 

The development of the bioeconomy is likely to occur in industrialized countries as well as in those emerging and developing economies. In the developing world the promise of genomic applications is of great importance to basic economic progress. These include generation of affordable and sustainable food supplies, higher productivity crops, and enhanced abilities to combat current and emerging infectious and endemic diseases. Development of these and other applications hold promise for the provision of solutions to many of global challenges. However, for the bioeconomy to succeed, considerable uncertainties facing both public and private sectors will need to be addressed. 

In the interest of analyzing the state of genomics in the context of the bioeconomy, HUGO conducted two initial work meetings jointly with the OECD and other organizations: The International Symposium "Genomics and the Bioeconomy", in Montpelier, France in 2010, and the International Working Summit "Converging technologies in genomics: Opportunities for a global economy" in Dubai, UAE in 2011. 

HUGO's interest in the different implications of genomics in contemporary societies has led to the integration of this Committee on Genomics and Bioeconomy, to assess the progressive impact of genomics in the global economy.


The mission of this Committee is to provide assessment and commentary on how genomic sciences impact on economic activity.


  • To promote discussion and understanding of the economic impact of knowledge derived from genomic sciences and technologies.
  • To bring experts together from the public and private sectors to identify the necessary steps to integrate genomic technologies into the bioeconomy in industrialized, emerging economies, and developing countries.
  • To assess and to comment on the changes in intellectual property landscape relative to genomics. On this issue, the Bioeconomy Committee will subsume the responsibilities of the previous HUGO IP Committee.
  • To deliberate about specific challenges for public policy to stimulate progressive integration of genomics into the bioeconomy, including intellectual property, knowledge valuation, innovative governance and public engagement in the definition of priorities.
  • To collaborate with other international bodies in economics, development, health, and society to carry out its mission and disseminate information.
  • To deliberate about policy issues relative to economic issues in order to provide advice to the HUGO Council, and to issue statements when appropriate.
  • To report on its activities to the HUGO Council, and to act on any other related matter.

Links / Resources

Documents of interest

The Impact of Genomics on the U.S. Economy. Battelle Report June 2013
Economic Impact of the Human Genome Project. Battelle Report May 2011
The new science of personalized medicine: Translating the promise into practice. PricewaterhouseCoopers (2009)

Committee Members

Gerardo Jimenez-Sanchez, Mexico 

Dr. Gerardo Jimenez-Sanchez was born in Mexico City. He is an MD and a pediatrician with a PhD in Human Genetics and Molecular Biology from the Johns Hopkins University. He received his training in business administration from the IPADE Business School. He is the Chairman of the Working Party on Biotechnology at the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) in Paris, where he has been annually re-elected as chair since 2007. He serves as a Council Member to the Human Genome Organisation (HUGO) and chairs HUGO’s Committee on Genomics and Bioeconomy. At the World Health Organization, he is a member of the Scientific Board for the Grand Challenges in Genomics for Public Health. Dr. Jimenez-Sanchez teaches Business in Life Sciences at the IPADE Business School and he is Professor of Genomic Medicine at the National Autonomous University of Mexico. He was the founder Director General of the National Institute of Genomic Medicine in Mexico (INMEGEN). He is the leading investigator in the Mexican Genomic Diversity Project. He is a certified pediatrician and a member of the National Academy of Medicine, the American Society of Human Genetics, the American Society of Gene Therapy, and the Society for Inherited Metabolic Disease, among other academic organizations. He was President of the first and second National Congress of Genomic Medicine in Mexico, and serves as a member of the Board of Directors of the Public Population Projects in Genomics (P3G). He was the founder President of the Mexican Society of Genomic Medicine and is the Regional Editor for Latin America and the Caribbean of the HUGO Journal.


Robert Mullan Cook-Deegan, USA 

Dr. Cook-Deegan holds an MD and a postdoctoral training in molecular biology of oncogenes from the University of Colorado. He received his bachelor's degree in chemistry, magna cum laude, from Harvard College. He is Director of the Center for Genome Ethics, Law & Policy of Duke University's Institute for Genome Sciences and Policy since 2002. He is the author on over 200 articles. He is former director of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Health Policy Fellowship program at the Institute of Medicine, National Academy of Sciences, a Robert Wood Johnson Health Policy Investigator at Georgetown University, and a seminar leader at Stanford-in-Washington. He worked at The National Academies in various capacities. Dr. Cook-Deegan was a member of the Board of Directors, Physicians for Human Rights, with whom he participated in human rights missions to Turkey, Iraq and Panama. He directed IOM's Division of Biobehavioral Sciences and Mental Disorders and worked for the National Center for Human Genome Research, after serving Acting Executive Director of the Biomedical Ethics Advisory Committee of the U.S. Congress. Dr. Cook-Deegan was a AAAS Congressional Science & Engineering Fellow and spent six years at the United States congressional Office of Technology Assessment.


Rick Johnson, USA 

Rick Johnson is the CEO and Founder of Global Helix LLC, a consulting and government strategy firm based in Washington DC, that focuses on strategic policy issues related to S&T policy, innovation, the globalization of R&D, massive data, technology standards, intellectual assets, research policy, and public-private partnerships -- especially in the life sciences. He received his Juris Doctor degree from the Yale Law School and his M.S. from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He served as General Counsel for International Trade at the U.S. Commerce Department and has worked extensively on a broad range of life sciences strategy and policy issues related to bio-economy trends at the intersection of research, business, government policies, innovation, and societal “grand challenges”. He serves as the Chairman or Vice-Chairman of three OECD/BIAC Committees – Biotechnology and Life Sciences, Technology, and Nanotechnology. He participates on several National Academy of Sciences panels and projects, including the Six Academy Project. He currently is involved in a number of global policy and legal initiatives related to emerging technologies, including synthetic biology, tools for “big data”, and next-generation genomics discovery and innovation.


Edison Liu, USA

Dr. Edison Liu is the newly appointed president and CEO of The Jackson Laboratory. Dr. Liu joins the Laboratory from the Genome Institute of Singapore. As founding executive director, Dr. Liu built the GIS from a staff of three into a major research institute of 27 laboratory groups and a staff of 270, with faculty in functional genomics, computational biology, population genetics and genome-to systems biology. Before moving to Singapore in 2001, he was the scientific director of the National Cancer Institute's Division of Clinical Sciences in Bethesda, Md.

Born in Hong Kong in 1952, Edison Liu obtained his B.S. in chemistry and psychology, as well as his M.D., at Stanford University. He served his internship and residency at Washington University's Barnes Hospital in St. Louis, followed by an oncology fellowship at Stanford. From 1982 to 1987 he was at the University of California, San Francisco, first in a haematology fellowship at Moffitt Hospital and then as a postdoctoral fellow in the laboratory of Nobel laureate J. Michael Bishop, while also serving as an instructor in the School of Medicine. From 1987 to 1996 he was at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, where he rose to director of the UNC Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Centre's Specialized Program of Research Excellence in Breast Cancer, the director of the Laboratory of Molecular Epidemiology at UNC's School of Public Health, chief of medical genetics, and chair of the Correlative Science Committee of the national cooperative clinical trials group, CALGB. Dr. Liu also held faculty positions in the UNC departments of medicine, epidemiology, biochemistry and biophysics, and in the curriculum in genetics. Dr. Edison Liu was born in Hong Kong, China, and immigrated to the United States in 1957. He received his bachelor's degree (Phi Beta Kappa) in chemistry and psychology from Stanford University where he remained to complete his M.D. in 1978. This was followed by internship and residency in internal medicine at Washington University, St. Louis, and clinical cancer fellowships at Stanford University (Oncology), and at the University of California at San Francisco (Haematology). He then pursued post-doctoral studies as a Damon-Runyan Cancer Research Fellow at the University of California at San Francisco in the laboratory of Dr. J. Michael Bishop identifying transforming genes in human leukemic states. In 1987, he joined the faculty of Medicine at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. There, he developed programs in leukaemia and breast cancer research centring on molecular epidemiology and cell signalling. In 2001, Dr. Liu assumed the position of Executive Director, Genome Institute of Singapore which is a flagship programme of the Biomedical Sciences Initiative of Singapore. At the GIS, he is building an international research institute of 300 individuals focused on integrating genomic sciences with cell and medical biology. His scientific investigations have spanned molecular epidemiology to molecular biochemistry of human oncogenes and his current scientific research investigates the dynamics of whole genome gene transcription that explains biological states in cancer.


Pierre Meulien, Canada 

Dr. Pierre Meulien was appointed President and CEO of Genome Canada in October, 2010. Prior to this appointment, he served as Chief Scientific Officer for Genome British Columbia from 2007 to 2010. From 2002 to 2007, Dr. Meulien served as the founding CEO of the Dublin Molecular Medicine Centre (now Molecular Medicine Ireland) which linked the three medical schools and six teaching hospitals in Dublin to build a critical mass in molecular medicine and translational research. The Centre managed the Euro 45 Million "Program for Human Genomics" financed by the Irish government and was responsible for coordinating the successful application for the first Wellcome Trust funded Clinical Research Centre to be set up in Ireland. For over 20 years, Dr. Meulien has managed expert research teams with a number of organizations, including Aventis Pasteur in Toronto (Senior Vice President of R&D), and in Lyon, France (Director of Research). He also spent seven years with the French biotechnology company Transgene in Strasbourg, France as a research scientist and part of the management team. Dr. Meulien's academic credentials include a PhD from the University of Edinburgh and a post-doctoral appointment at the Institut Pasteur in Paris.

Related references
  • Aguilar A, Bochereau L, Matthiessen L. Biotechnology as the engine for the Knowledge-Based Bio-Economy. Biotechnol Genet Eng Rev. 2010;26:371-388.
  • Battelle Memorial Institute (Battelle). Economic impact of the Human Genome Project. Columbus, OH, USA. 2011.
  • Bennett B. Law and ethics for the bioeconomy and beyond. J Law Med. Aug 2007;15(1):7-13.
  • Burke W, Burton H, Hall AE, et al. Extending the reach of public health genomics: what should be the agenda for public health in an era of genome-based and "personalized" medicine? Genetics in medicine : official journal of the American College of Medical Genetics. Dec 2010;12(12):785-791.
  • Davis RL, Khoury MJ. A public health approach to pharmacogenomics and gene-based diagnostic tests. Pharmacogenomics. Apr 2006;7(3):331-337.
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  • Organisation for Economic Co-Operation andDevelopment (OECD). The knowledge based-economy. Vol 96. Paris, France: OECD; 1996.
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