Liu Siqi, Co-founder, Member of the Board of Directors of BGI Group, Chairman of the Supervisory Board of BGI Group
2023 is BGI Group’s 24th anniversary and the 20th anniversary of the culmination of the Human Genome Project.
As one of the four founding members of BGI, Liu Siqi, Member of the Board of Directors, and Chairman of the Supervisory Board of BGI Group, still stands at the forefront of life sciences, leading the organization to new heights in what he calls the "significant growth in life sciences" era. With a career spanning more than four decades and with the same passion he had when co-establishing BGI, Liu continues to make a profound impact on the company and the industry.
In this interview, we delve into Liu's rich experiences and perspectives.
Question: How do you define science?
Liu Siqi: Science is a process of thought, error correction, and continuous refinement. Science encourages innovation and correct thinking. What you believe to be true today may turn out to be false in 50 years. Life sciences have evolved rapidly, and textbooks have changed quickly as well.
Question: When did you first become involved in life sciences?
Liu Siqi: I began my involvement in life sciences during my university years. I conducted research related to hematological diseases at Xiangya School of Medicine. Later, at the University of Texas Medical Branch, I focused on research related to diabetes. After returning to China, I primarily engaged in research related to tumors. So, in total, I've been involved in medical and life science research for more than 40 years.
Question: Reflecting on BGI's 24-year history, what are your thoughts?
Liu Siqi: BGI has remained true to its original goal, which is to use technology and data to transform biomedical research and its applications.
In the past, scientific research relied on hypotheses tested through experiments. However, the Human Genome Project has given rise to a data-driven scientific research model. Human observations are very limited. When science advances to a certain stage, we can collect evidence on a large scale and generate scientific hypotheses based on this, which can quickly advance scientific development.
Question: With the emergence of spatial omics, do you think it's time for a change in the way we observe life?
Liu Siqi: No type of technology lasts forever. Inventing new technologies is a perpetual attraction for BGI, and it's a fundamental driving force for our future. We shall never become complacent with our current technology. The future is an endless journey of continuous development.
Question: How far along do you think we are in decoding the book of life?
Liu Siqi: We've only just begun. Over twenty years ago, we knew that about three percent of the human genome could be expressed, known as the coding region. But the world beyond the coding region is vast and requires continuous exploration. What we believed to be true twenty years ago might now be pseudogenes.
Question: Some people call the 21st century the century of life sciences. What’s your view?
Liu Siqi: To put it differently, the 21st century is an era of significant growth in life sciences, which might be a more fitting description. In the 21st century, humanity values life and pays unprecedented attention to health and medicine. In this sense, it's not an exaggeration to call it the century of biology and medicine.
Question: Do you have any words for BGI's future?
Liu Siqi: Stay true to your original aspirations and always strive for progress. Keep up with global developments.