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Ex-NBC chief Bob Wright paves way for autism research

Former NBC CEO Bob Wright's advocacy group Autism Speaks is collaborating with Google to sequence the world's largest database of autism genomes.

"It's an incredible breakthrough. And hopefully it will show what whole genome sequencing can do, if you have the capability, for any disease or condition. But we're going to be the first," Wright said Thursday on CNBC's "Power Lunch."

Whole genome sequencing, which has been known for 12 or 14 years, has been extremely expensive and difficult to do. But now sequencing can be done at prices that are more reasonable, he said.

"Google has entered the picture with us. ... We're sequencing 10,000 whole genomes. ... I hope this will save us years and years of traditional research so we can move on."

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Bob Wright
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Bob Wright

Wright said he and his wife, Suzanne, who co-founded Autism Speaks with him, will be traveling to Rome this month for the Vatican's first conference on autism.

"The pope has set up a three-day seminar for autism in the Vatican," Wright said. "I'm hoping that he will ... pray for all those children and families with autism. His impact around the world is so significant, so this will be brilliant."

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During his time as an NBC executive, Wright help turn the company into a global media group and oversaw the creation of CNBC in 1989.

"I couldn't be prouder that it's worked out so well these many years," Wright said.

Wright was named one of the 100 most influential leaders in business by CNBC in conjunction with the network's 25th anniversary earlier this year. He was also nominated for CNBC's First 25 List of people who have been at the forefront of business and finance innovation since the year CNBC went live.

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