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Christian Henry

21 February 2023

Can you introduce PacBio and give an overview of your vision for the company since you became its CEO in 2020?

PacBio was established in 2000 with the promise of doing DNA sequencing on single molecules using a semiconductor framework. The company launched its first products in 2010-2011 and in 2019, created a new way of looking at sequencing data - HiFi, which enabled incredible accuracy for long reads. I joined the company in 2020 as I saw strong opportunity for HiFi, along with better semiconductor chips, or SMRT Cells, to produce the most accurate results for both small and large variants as the SMRT Cells allow us to look at more fragments of DNA. Our vision is to be the most accurate and complete sequencing company in the world, and we are focused on enabling the promise of genomics to better human health with our innovation. 

In October 2022, we announced the launch of Revio, our next generation long-read sequencer that is 15 times more powerful than our previous flagship product, the Sequel IIe. Revio gives us the ability to look at up to 100 million molecules of long read single fragments of DNA simultaneously, a huge innovation as we look at the complete molecule versus segregating the DNA into small fragments where you lose the resolution. This allows us to understand how the genome affects the world around us - from our own characteristics and traits, to understanding diseases such as cancer, to improving our agriculture, to understanding biosecurity in both being able to identify when pathogens come into our environment and how they change over time. Our customers and scientists around the world use this technology to understand genomes. As we are entering this new era of genomics, having more accurate and complete technologies will allow us to see more of the picture, to understand DNA, and as a result, understand disease, diagnose disease, and help to develop medicines that will change the world.

What innovations will be driving growth for PacBio moving forward?

Within 8 weeks of launching Revio, we had orders for 76 instruments, and we are excited to see increasingly more whole genomes done with this technology. At the core of our innovation, PacBio marries the power of the semiconductor industry with biology to interrogate single molecules of DNA. Furthermore, Revio’s unique and highly capable HiFi sequencing technology now includes access to the epigenome, a second layer of genomic information often left unexplored due to fundamental limitations of common sequencing technologies. 

Who benefits most from PacBio’s innovations? 

Our products benefit research into the fundamental nature of DNA. Our focus areas include the rare disease community, pharmacogenomics, neurogenomics, immunogenomics, and oncology. In 2021, we acquired the most accurate sequencing technology we’d ever seen. This Sequencing By Binding (SBB) technology is for short-reads of the genome, but will allow us to support markets where companies use liquid biopsies to identify early signs of cancer, or to determine if cancer is coming back, an incredible emerging area of science. 

PacBio has an ambitious growth plan for 2026. What is the company’s strategy to meet its growth targets?

High accuracy and being able to see the whole genome is critical. With our new Revio system, we have addressed these challenges, allowing us to penetrate into the whole genome market. 

New technology will allow us to see the full transcript of RNA. PacBio had partnered with 10x Genomics to launch a Multiplexed Arrays Sequencing (MAS-Seq) kit, which enables long-read, single-cell RNA sequencing so that single-cell researchers can better identify and characterize novel isoforms, novel driver mutations, and cancer fusion genes. Such identification is particularly relevant in the fields of cancer and neurodegenerative disease research. We can take a big share of a multi USD 100 million market with a higher quality product and the right throughput and economics. 

What are the main challenges PacBio is currently facing?

Our largest competitor is 10 plus times larger.


PacBio intends to create a paradigm shift demonstrating that our technologies deliver better resolution, with competitive economics, at scale. 


Joining a company as CEO, changing the culture and the vision to be much more aggressive and forward thinking was a challenge. Changing a company culture when everyone was working remotely during Covid was extremely difficult. We brought new people in and we were able to blend the culture, establishing a new mission and a core set of values.

What are PacBio’s main objectives for the next three to five years?

I believe that genomics or omics is going to become much more integrated over the next decade, and it is going to be critical to integrate multiple omics technologies such as sequencing. PacBio can be a leader of this integration, not only through our core technologies, but also through partnerships and acquisitions. The ultimate goal is creating an integrated software framework that allows advanced decision support capability by taking a sample, evaluating all of the omics aspects of that sample, and then creating linkages and integration so that doctors can leverage the entire power of what is going on in the sample - perhaps even in real time down the road. 

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