Meet Evan Floden, Bioinformatician and Co-Founder at Seqera Labs

Seqera Labs helps scientists around the world working at the forefront of important and rapidly evolving medical fields such as oncology and personalised medicine to share their latest diagnostic tools and data. This helps to expedite both discovery and understanding of what causes disease, and the development of therapeutics.

In oncology, for example, scientists can share and update data pipelines which help researchers analyse tumour mutations. Nextflow’s community of over 15,000 users are then able to employ a standardised method of diagnosis which they can suggest improvements to, as well as being able to share their own biological and clinical data for further analysis.

Although we began the open-source Nextflow project ten years ago, I founded Seqera Labs in 2018 with Paolo Di Tommaso. Nextflow now has more than 120 of these data pipelines available for use by scientists all around the world in many medical disciplines and are the de facto provider in our space. As well as leading academic institutions, our platforms are trusted by organisations including AstraZeneca, Janssen Pharmaceuticals, Oxford Nanopore and Invitae to simplify the way they access complex datasets and revolutionise our responses to future global health issues.


Seqera Labs · GitHub

How did you come up with the idea for Seqera Labs?


Much of the inspiration behind founding Seqera Labs stemmed from frustrations I experienced as a bioinformatician in developing complex data pipelines in areas such as diagnostics, and then deploying them at scale. In organisations, valuable resources are spent building this complicated infrastructure, so we set out to build a platform that would offer cost-effective and scalable ways to store and process large volumes of sequencing data.

Built by scientists to solve some of the most common challenges that exist in this stage of data analysis, we’ve now seen first-hand our platform being used at the forefront of discovery in spaces such as oncology, precision medicine, genomics and RNA sequencing. Seqera Labs provides the tools for researchers to diagnose, and ultimately begin to treat, these conditions, whist also allowing scientists to share their results in a collaborative effort to solve some of the biggest healthcare challenges on the planet.



How has Seqera Labs evolved over the last couple of years?


Seqera Labs’ cloud-based data orchestration tools have gained significant traction post-pandemic because of their foundational role in enabling effective collaboration amongst scientists and researchers. This was critical during the Covid-19 pandemic when sequencing centres and experts collaborated to develop pipelines for the analysis of samples using Nextflow’s platform. This led to the identification and ongoing surveillance of the variants including Delta and Omicron, allowing scientists to track their spread and contributing to the development of highly targeted and effective vaccines. Nextflow still processes most of the UK’s Sars-CoV-2 sequencing data.

At Seqera Labs, we have spent the last 10 years developing Nextflow which now has over 160,000 downloads per month and is regularly cited in research papers as a tool used in important discoveries published in leading journals such as Nature, Bioinformatics and GigaScience. We have raised more than €28M and continue to grow having quadrupled both our number of employees and revenue in the last twelve months.

Our mission is to become a generationally-defining company in spaces beyond the life sciences industry, and we already count a full spectrum of researchers among our users – from small scale biotechs to some of the largest pharmaceutical companies in the world.


What can we hope to see from Seqera Labs in the future?


As the demand for personalised medicines grows, initiatives such as Genomics England’s 100,000 Genomics Project have gained significant traction. Its work, in partnership with the NHS, is improving the way we diagnose and treat individual cases of both rare diseases and cancer, improving patient outcomes. Although a vastly different healthcare system, we are also seeing interest in integrating genomic sequencing within diagnosis throughout the US, such as in the recent White House Office of Science and Technology Policy’s announcement of its priorities to advance biotechnology over the next 20 years.

For Seqera Labs, which works with many of the key players in this space, there is unmatched potential to help to relieve the burden on these healthcare systems by providing some of the vital tools which enable these initiatives. Whilst these have historically been hugely expensive to run – and most healthcare systems do not have the time or money to do so – Seqera Labs can help to free up the resources to make this a reality, improving therapeutics and diagnostics faster. As our health sectors recover and with the threat of future pandemics still very much a possibility, getting these systems in place is more important than ever.