Monday, May 7, 2007

Question of the Year

What would you do if you could sequence a genome for $1,000? In celebration of its upcoming 15th anniversary, Nature Genetics is asking prominent geneticists to weigh in on this question: what would you do if this sequencing capacity were available immediately? The responses are interesting.

Bruce Lahn would sequence "the genomes of a large number of cells from a single individual... to construct an ontogenetic tree of all the cells based on somatic point mutations."

Paul Nurse would sequence "a selected set of genes for as many species as possible... [and] bury the creationists and the intelligent designers under a mountain of base pairs."

Laurence Hurst would "love to know what underpins the heritable differences in musical ability."

Elaine Ostrander
wonders "what are the genetic mechanisms that control the breed-specific behaviors of various domestic dog breeds?"

Francis Collins would determine where the soul is located. Wait, no, just kidding. He would use "genomic research to improve human health...for each of 30 common, complex diseases, such as asthma, arthritis, diabetes, various types of cancer, heart disease, stroke, Alzheimer's disease and depression."

What would you do?


  1. Dawkins wrote an essay on applications of cheap sequencing years ago, called "Son of Moore's Law." Some of his ecological applications are being used now, like identifying individual wolves from scat.

  2. How about looking at cancer cells? Seeing how they differ inside people, and from tumor to tumor, especially benign vs not. I know that there's already a lot of research into this, but I bet they could benefit from a mountain of data.