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About Sequencing & Genomics


An organism's genome refers to all the hereditary information encoded in its genes. Sequencing a complete genome, a gene, or a fragment of genetic material involves determining the order of its sub-units: adenine, cytosine, guanine, and thymine.

Scientists are using individuals' genetic sequences to map and catalog human genetic variation in order to improve understanding of human biology, disease susceptibility, and drug response. As costs falls rapidly, the scale and speed of gene sequencing is increasing. The Human Genome Project required thirteen years and $3 billion to sequence the first complete, general human genome. Subsequent projects, such as the International HapMap Project, examined genetic variation between population groups, raising concerns of giving undue biological significance to social categories of race.

Now, the sequencing of complete genomes of specific individuals is becoming almost routine. For example, the Personal Genome Project plans to sequence 100,000 genomes.

Lower prices have also opened the door to companies that offer personal, direct-to-consumer genetic tests.


Slipping Into Eugenics? Nathaniel Comfort on the History Behind CRISPRby Elliot HosmanBiopolitical TimesJuly 23rd, 2015Historian writing in The Nation unravels the social and political context of genetic research and eugenics in the United States to understand the future impact of CRISPR gene editing biotechnology.
The Ethical Sperm Bank: An All-Open Sperm Bank. An Idea Whose Time Has Comeby  Wendy KramerHuffington PostJuly 22nd, 2015These are the only solutions in the absence of government regulation. Perhaps in time and as public pressure mounts, regulation will follow.
Your 23andMe DNA Can Be Used In Racist, Discriminatory Waysby Stephanie M. LeeBuzzFeedJuly 22nd, 2015A programmer came up with a way to block users from websites based on their DNA. The incident shows that personal DNA from companies like 23andMe can be used in unwelcome ways.
US Tailored-Medicine Project Aims for Ethnic Balanceby Sara ReardonNature NewsJuly 21st, 2015The plan for the $215-million Precision Medicine Initiative is due, creating a daunting deadline, in part because the effort’s priorities include filling racial and socio-economic gaps.
Google is Scouring Ancestry.com to Find Out What's In Your Genesby Caroline ChenBloomberg BusinessweekJuly 21st, 2015Google Inc.’s Calico, which studies aging and related diseases, will delve into the genetic database amassed by a unit of Ancestry.com LLC to look for hereditary influences on longevity.
This Company Is Trying To Make More Perfect Babiesby Azeen GhorayshiBuzzFeedJuly 12th, 2015As startup GenePeeks partners with a fertility clinic to screen egg donors for nearly 450 genetic changes linked to disease, critics worry about an emerging market for designer babies.
Don't Mistake Genetics for Fateby Andrew Gelman & Kaiser FungThe Daily BeastJuly 11th, 2015It’s easy for the media to get misled on studies that seem to purport genetic determinism.
Misunderstanding the Genome: A (Polite) Rantby Jonathan GitlinArsTechnicaJuly 8th, 2015Genetic (or genomic) screening tests don't always tell you if someone has a disease. Rather, they're typically probabilistic—they tell you if you've got a greater chance of a problem than the "average" person.
Six Months of Progress on the Precision Medicine Initiativeby Brian Deese & Stephanie DevaneyOffice of Science and Technology PolicyJuly 8th, 2015The Obama Administration has released draft guiding principles to protect privacy and build public trust as the Precision Medicine Initiative develops.
Genome Researchers Raise Alarm Over Big Databy Erika Check HaydenNature NewsJuly 7th, 2015Storing and processing genome data will exceed the computing challenges of running YouTube and Twitter, biologists warn.
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