Genomic Lab vs. NGS Lab: Making the Right Choice for Your Laboratory – Genetic Education
Genomic Lab vs NGS Lab

Genomic Lab vs. NGS Lab: Making the Right Choice for Your Laboratory

“Setting up or upgrading genetic facilities? Unsure which to choose? Explore this guide comparing Genomic Labs and NGS Labs to make the right decision.”

Genetic and genomic testing market is booming. New technologies are emerging, genome sequencing becomes speedy and cost-effective. And labs become partial to fully automated. 

Let me tell you that Thermo Fisher Scientific has developed an NGS platform that is only a single-point assay. During this rapidly growing genomic era, scientists, organizations and labs want to upgrade or establish genome testing facilities. 

If you are one of them and want to upgrade your existing genetic lab or want to start from the very scratch, this article is for you. 

In this article, I will majorly explain the difference between genomic and NGS labs and their capacities. This will help you to make a decision. 

Related article: 10 Common Lab Techniques to Work in a Genetic Lab.

Stay tuned. 

What is a Genomic Lab? 

Genomic lab simply means, a lab having facilities to test the genome of an organism. Thus, the candidate lab should have all the necessary technologies and requirements to test the genome. 

For instance, DNA microarray and NGS. These two techniques, right now! Have the capability to read the entire genome. However, both are significantly different in terms of working principle and data output. 

I have already written an article on the genomics lab setup. You can check out that article for more details. 

What is an NGS Lab? 

NGS stands for Next-Generation Sequencing technology that is capable enough to read an organism’s whole genome. Thus, it’s a part of a genomic testing facility. Illumina, Ion Torrent, PacBio and ONT are a few popular NGS platforms. 

NGS works on either massive parallel sequencing (Illumina and Ion Torrent) or SMRT (ONT and PacBio) to sequence the entire genome in a few hours. Note that NGS is capable of testing the genome using only a sequencing mechanism. 

Now let’s see some of the differences between the genomic and NGS lab. 

Interesting read: What is First, Second and Third Generation Sequencing?

Genomic Lab vs NGS Lab: 

The genomic lab studies the genome using various available techniques, in particular. Whereas the NGS lab studies the genome using only the sequencing technology. 

A genomic lab should have either an NGS setup or Microarray, or both. While the NGS lab only has the NGS facility for testing the genome. 

Microarray works on the principle of hybridization that can identify millions of genomic variations in a rapid time but only the known ones. It also provides gene expression data in terms of genome expression profile. It can not read the sequence. 

While the NGS reads the entire genomic sequences and can identify novel as well as common genomic variants. However, it needs extensive bioinformatics setup to analyze the data.  

NGS and microarray workflow.
Illustration of the NGS and DNA microarray workflow.

So a genomic lab requires both NGS and microarray thus, it needs roughly ~double the investment of only setting up the NGS lab. 

Choosing Genomic Lab vs NGS Lab: 

Which option should you choose? 

Upgrading the existing facility or establishing a genomic testing facility with both microarray and NGS capabilities empowers your lab to study both genomic variations and gene expressions comprehensively. 

For example, when a doctor recommends testing for XYZ cancer and associated genes, you can provide a detailed report that includes all sequenced genes, identified variants, and gene expression profiles.

That’s pretty impressive, right? Isn’t it?

This will help doctors understand which gene alterations are associated with XYZ cancer, and the gene expression profile will help them to understand the influence of a particular or set of alterations on the condition. 

NGS sequences a hundred to thousands of genes while microarray investigates gene expression for those genes. Moreover, the readily available different microarray panels also empower the lab to identify known alterations and their gene expression. 

So this will increase the reporting speed with cost-effectiveness. That means, having a microarray in the lab can reduce the utilization of NGS where it is not required. NGS is a costly, labor-intensive and time-consuming process. 

Check out this table for more in-depth data on what the NGS + Microarray and only NGS lab can do. 

AspectLab with NGS + MicroarrayLab with Only NGS
CapabilitiesComprehensive genomic analysis, gene expression profilingComprehensive genomic analysis
ApplicationsWhole genome sequencing, transcriptomics, genotyping, SNP analysis, gene expression studiesWhole genome sequencing, transcriptomics, variant discovery
Data TypesSequence data, expression data (microarray), genotype data (microarray)Sequence data
Research ScopeBroad, including gene expression and genotyping studiesFocused on detailed genomic analysis and variant discovery
FlexibilityHigh, suitable for diverse research questionsModerate, focused on sequencing-based research
CostHigher initial setup and operational costs, cost of microarray consumablesHigh initial setup and operational costs (no microarray costs)
Data Analysis ComplexityRequires integration of sequencing and microarray data, more complex bioinformaticsHigh bioinformatics requirements for sequencing data
Turnaround TimeFast for gene expression and genotyping, moderate for sequencingModerate for all sequencing-based analyses
Expertise RequiredModerate bioinformatics and microarray data analysis skillsAdvanced sequencing skills, bioinformatics
Applications in MedicineComprehensive cancer gene panels including expression profiling, multi-faceted disease studiesDetailed genomic and variant analysis
Future-ProofingVersatile for adapting to new research needsHighly specialized for in-depth genomic analysis
Data IntegrationCombines sequencing with expression and genotype data, richer datasetsDeep sequencing data, potential for integration with other omics
Examples of Use CasesCancer studies combining gene sequencing with expression profiling, GWAS with SNP and expression dataCancer genomics, rare disease variant discovery
Data Storage NeedsHigh, due to both sequence and microarray dataHigh, due to sequencing data only
Regulatory ComplianceMore complex, managing data from multiple sourcesComplex, focused on sequencing data compliance


  • If you have a high initial budget
  • If your sequencing and bioinformatics team is inexperienced
  • If you lack experienced NGS manpower and still want to report for genome variations and gene expression profiles
  • A speedy and low throughput cost-effective option, you can choose to set up a complete genomic lab instead of just an NGS setup. 

Noteworthy, establishing a genomic testing lab (NGS + Microarray) will take longer to reach the break-even point compared to other setups due to higher initial investment and operational costs. 

If you are confident about sample inflow, you can definitely go for it. In addition, it will greatly reduce the per-sample cost for the lab. 


  • If you have a skilled and experienced NGS and bioinformatics team
  • You want a high throughput analysis where you have a high sample volume
  • Want to report sequence-level variants only, you can choose NGS. 

Wrapping up: 

In conclusion, if you are running a genetic lab, it’s a better option to upgrade with microarray + NGS, this will equip your lab with complete genetic and genomic solutions. 

While, if you are new and want to establish a genomic testing lab, I recommend going with the NGS option only. Although you need an experienced bioinformatics team, this will initially reduce your setting cost. 

You can upgrade to microarray and other genetic testing like PCR, RT-PCR and Sanger sequencing, later on. Hire me to set up your genomic or NGS lab. Contact us now. 

Subscribe to Us

Subscribe to our weekly newsletter for the latest blogs, articles and updates, and never miss the latest product or an exclusive offer.

Share this article

Scroll to Top