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NABsys: A Case Study

NABsys is a life sciences company working at the intersection of physics, biology, and computer science to develop a proprietary electronic, solid-state DNA sequencing platform.

Started in 2005 using technology licensed from Brown and other institutions, NABsys was initially founded by Brown physics professor Sean Ling, and continues to have strong Brown connections. Several faculty members are advisors, and in 2006, NABsys acquired Gene Spectrum, a company founded by two computer science professors who continue to serve as consultants. The company’s president and CEO, Barrett Bready, is also a graduate and former professor of Brown.

NABsys is an example of how a startup can successfully grow by leveraging grant money to attract follow-on investments. In 2007, the company was awarded more than $1 million in grant funding from the National Institutes of Health’s National Human Genome Research Institute, and subsequently received seed-round backing from Slater and other investors. In 2009, the company raised another $4 million in "A" round of financing from institutional investors, followed by an additional $7 million in 2010. In 2011, NABsys closed a $10 million venture capital round, led by Stata Venture Partners, bringing the total of funds raised to date to over $21 million.

To accommodate its growing staff, NABsys recently relocated to a state-of-the-art facility in Providench’s Knowledge District, where the company continues its work to transform DNA sequencing and analysis by using solid-state systems coupled with innovations in chemistry and algorithms to achieve unprecedented levels of accuracy, speed and cost. NABsyh’s systems will also reveal long-range DNA sequence information not accessible with current sequencing technologies. These solid-state systems are being designed to address a broad range of applications, from analysis of DNA structural variation, to sequencing of targeted genes, to whole-genome sequencing. The levels of performance being targeted has the potential to dramatically impact biological research in many fields.