China National GeneBank Opening Hopes To Provide Resource For Global Health

October 26, 2016

By Bio-IT World Staff

October 26, 2016 | The official opening of the China National GeneBank (CNGB) marks a new phase in Chinese-International genomics collaboration, providing scientists from across the world with access to one of the world's most comprehensive and sophisticated biorepositories with the goal of enabling breakthroughs in human health research, and contributing to global biodiversity conservation efforts.

Based in Shenzhen and officially opened on September 22, 2016, the billion-dollar CNGB covers more than 47,500 square meters and has an integrated structure of “Three Banks and Two Platforms”, consisting of a Biorepository, Bioinformatics Data Centre and Living Biobank, and a Digitalization Platform and Synthesis and Editing Platform. Partners from around the world welcomed CNGB’s contribution to scientific collaboration and preserving the planet’s biodiversity.

“The main storage space of CNGB (Dapeng) is divided into four layers: 4℃ Refrigerator storage: 1.7 million samples in storage, 37% space available; -20℃ Freezer storage: 5.12 million samples in storage, 53% space available; -80℃ storage: 5.55 million samples in storage, 9% space available; Liquid Nitrogen storage: 20 thousand samples in storage, 96% space available,” said a company representative via email.

Initiated by China’s National Development and Reform Commission in 2011, the CNGB is the result of five years of development by the world’s largest genomics organization, BGI.

"The China National GeneBank represents the new generation of a genetic resource repository, bioinformatics database, knowledge database, and tool library to systematically ‘Store, Read, Understand, Write, and Apply’ genetic data,” said the Director of CNGB, Mr. Yonghong Mei in a statement.

“The published databases are open to [the] public; anyone can access the website ( to search the databases,” the company representative said. The representative also went on to say that international researchers can work with BGI on samples stored there “based on the proposal of collaboration that will be further reviewed and approved by CNGB IRB on ethical issues. The works related with human samples also need to follow the regulation of the Chinese Human Genetic Recourse Committee. We are planning to release more detailed information.”

Stage I of the CNGB Biorepository stores more than 10 million traceable bio-samples, including human, plant, animal, and microbes, and will establish international standards in bio-sample collection, storage, and management.

The Bioinformatics Data Canter is focused on establishing a high-performance data management system to store and interpret biological information, and during its first phase has already achieved 20PB (20 million gigabytes) access capability and will reach 500PB in phase II. It hosts over 10 databases, with a search engine, data transmission, and cloud computing support.

The Digital Platform launched is equipped with 150 BGISEQ-500 benchtop sequencers and 1 super sequencer, RevolocityTM, producing 5Pb data per year, which is the equivalent sequencing capacity of 50,000 whole genome sequencing.

The Synthesis and Editing Platform aims to develop a super high throughput and low cost foundry.

“[The] Living Biobank protects and preserves living resources, such as germplasm, microorganism and somatic & germ cells from both human and animal origin. Also living biobank will build and operate demonstrative bases, such as botanical gardens, zoos and natural preservations zones, and will dedicate to protection of the endangered and China endemic species and finally a comprehensive conservation of all species,” the company representive said. The Living Bank is expected to save and protect around 300,000 species of plants and millions of animals and microbes and will accelerate digitization of resources to lead to other innovative applications

"CNGB aims to create a network to foster global collaboration and communication, and to promote innovation in the community,”said the Executive Director of CNGB, Dr. Xun Xu in a statement. CNGB has formed strategic collaborations with the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), Consultative Group for International Agricultural Research (CGIAR), Smithsonian Institution (SI), and Global Genome Biodiversity Network.

The opening of the CNGB also saw the signing of cooperation agreements with global partners Svalbard Global Seed Vault, German Cancer Research Center (DKFZ), Shenzhen Institute of Advanced Technology, Huawei and Aliyun in the areas of seed digitalization, the epigenetics of children’s health, and phage genome synthesis.