Nature Genetics Question of the Year

Quiz Addict Large Bumper StickerStarting to feel like quiz time with all these questions floating around. Along with The Edge, Nature Genetics has its own Question of the YearWhat would you do if it became possible to sequence the equivalent of a full human genome for only $1,000?

I’d go whole hog and have all my friends’ and relatives’ DNA sequenced. Whether they approved it or not! Easy to get DNA samples from hair, toothbrushes, and what not. Next time you come visit my house, better keep your DNA samples tucked away. ;)

Oh, what? They weren’t asking me what I would do. Let’s see what Francis S. Collins of the National Human Genome Research Institute says:

The real question is, “What wouldn’t we do?”

See? We think alike!

So I took that out of context. Here’s what these genetics experts think we should do if the genome could be sequenced with just $1,000.

  • Francis Collins would sequence 100,000 human samples including people who have the most common complex diseases and people who’ve made it to age 100.
  • George Church of Harvard Medical School would sequence all exons and conduct pathway sequence studies (“associations between a disease and any ‘obviously deleterious alleles’”).
  • Stephen J. O’Brien of the National Cancer Institute would sequence the DNA of cats, endangered species, and primates.
  • Evan Eichler of the University of Washington would sequence DNA from people of different parts of the globe, sequence DNA from patients with idiopathic mental retardation and their families, sequence the genomes of primates and mammals, and sequence germ cells (wheat germ agglutinin- WGA?).
  • Jonathan Pritchard of the University of Chicago would have his three-year-old son’s genome sequenced (and I assume his own as well) and sequence DNA from different species for use in studies comparative organismal biology.

What would you do if you could sequence a genome for not just $1,000 but $100?

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    • Cathy

      A very good question. I’ll have to think about that.


    • J

      Francis Collins would need to invent the 1st $1,000 super-computer and then network 1,000 of them to run the analysis. I wonder if he is expecting to live to 100?

    • Hsien Hsien Lei, PhD

      J: All together now. Can we do it? Yes, we can! Sounds better when I’m reading Bob the Builder. ;)

      I wouldn’t be surprised if Collins is considering getting his genome sequenced since Craig Venter is having his done. There’s got to be some sort of competitive one-upmanship going on between them?!

    • Rebecca Taylor

      I know one thing, I would be out of a job! No more tediously testing one mutation or one gene at a time! Maybe because my area of expertise is DNA sequencing I can ride the wave into the future. We shall see… ;)