The Human Genome Project (HGP) provided the initial draft of mankind's DNA sequence in 2001. The HGP was produced by 23 collaborating laboratories using Sanger sequencing of mapped regions as well as shotgun sequencing techniques in a process that occupied 13 years at a cost of ~$3 billion. Today, Next Generation Sequencing (NGS) techniques represent the next phase in the evolution of DNA sequencing technology at dramatically reduced cost compared to traditional Sanger sequencing. A single laboratory today can sequence the entire human genome in a few days for a few thousand dollars in reagents and staff time. Routine whole exome or even whole genome sequencing of clinical patients is well within the realm of affordability for many academic institutions across the country. This paper reviews current sequencing technology methods and upcoming advancements in sequencing technology as well as challenges associated with data generation, data manipulation and data storage. Implementation of routine NGS data in cancer genomics is discussed along with potential pitfalls in the interpretation of the NGS data. The overarching importance of bioinformatics in the clinical implementation of NGS is emphasized. We also review the issue of physician education which also is an important consideration for the successful implementation of NGS in the clinical workplace. NGS technologies represent a golden opportunity for the next generation of pathologists to be at the leading edge of the personalized medicine approaches coming our way. Often under-emphasized issues of data access and control as well as potential ethical implications of whole genome NGS sequencing are also discussed. Despite some challenges, it's hard not to be optimistic about the future of personalized genome sequencing and its potential impact on patient care and the advancement of knowledge of human biology and disease in the near future.
Keywords: Bioinformatics; clinical medicine; next generation sequencing; pathology.