FOcUs ON cHINA The Human genome Project completed in 2003 was the first large-scale international collaborative project that saw China as one of the major partners. With its rapid advances in life sciences and biotechnology in recent years, China’s presence in international collaborations has been steadily growing. The Shenzhen-based Beijing genomics Institute (BgI) is at the forefront of this development. The 1999-founded nonprofit institute has meanwhile become the world’s largest sequencing centre. At the beginning of September, EMBO welcomed the president of BgI, HUANMINg YANg, for a short visit to Heidelberg. Huanming Yang, who is an associate EMBO Member, came to give a talk at EMBL on genomics in Life Sciences and to discuss potential areas of future collaboration with EMBO. Huanming Yang met with Maria Leptin, Director of EMBO, and other members of the management team during his visit to Heidelberg. A wide range of discussions took place that focused on training and partnership opportunities designed to strengthen relation- ships between European and Asian scientists. Both EMBO and Professor Yang will explore possibilities to put in place courses and work- shops in China for young principal investigators, assess other ways to pursue network opportuni- ties between European and Chinese scientists, and look at activities that will specifically support the communication and development of science- related policy, ethics and scientific publications. Earlier in the year, EMBO Director Maria Leptin visited the BgI headquarters in Shenzhen. On 27 April, she met senior members of the BgI management team and also gave a lecture enti- tled “The genetics and cell biology of complex cell shapes.” Large-scale sequencing is the bread and butter business of BgI. Silkworms, rice, chickens, and pigs are but a few examples of the organisms large and small that the institute’s scientists have already sequenced. The research findings have resulted in more than 250 publications, many of them in top-tier journals such as Science and Nature. As the core technology of genomics, sequencing has laid “the digital foundation onto which the systems approaches of the future will be built,” stated Huanming Yang in his presenta- tion held at EMBL. He mentioned that in its short history, BgI has made good use of the opportu- nities arising from the three breakthroughs in sequencing technology: from hand to automation, from slab gel to capillary sequencing, and the move to next-generation sequencing. BGI President Huanming Yang in discussion with EMBO managers 4 EMBOencounters | Autumn 2012 | ©2012 EMBO Founder and President of Beijing Genomics Institute visits EMBO © EMBL Photolab | Hugo Neves