According to Genomic Pioneers, the Future of Genetics is the Future of Computing
2010-04-04 0:00

From: popsci.com

The journal Nature today released a massive retrospective on the tenth anniversary of the Human Genome Project (officially celebrated June 26 of this year), which included two important pieces from genomics pioneers J. Craig Venter and Francis Collins. While retrospectives generally look backward, Venter and Collins are already looking to the next decade, one filled with free-flowing information, reams of phenotype data and multiple genomes per person. But the biggest developments in genomics won´t be a genomics development at all; it will be the biggest, baddest computing systems the world has ever seen.

Genome Data will be Free

The race to sequence the first human genome produced some fantastic things, not least of which was the first human genome. Ongoing prizes like the Archon X-Prize continue to offer research groups and academics the incentives to push the technological and scientific envelopes toward greater innovation. But cooperation, not competition, will get genomics to where it needs to be.

Collins notes that while legally binding policies must be in place to ensure individual privacy, genome data must be made available to all. Genomics is simply too big to end up like Big Pharma, with each individual entity clinging tenaciously to its proprietary data sets like commodities. The original Human Genome Project established an ethic of immediate data deposit that allowed others access to its data. That kind of openness and inclination toward collaboration will characterize the future of genome research.

Phenotype is the New Genotype

We´ve figured out how to sequence the genome, but that was only the beginning. Now we´ve got to figure out what it all means, and that means phenotype -- behaviors, environmental factors, physical characteristics, etc. -- will become just as important genotype in determining what the genome really means. And while phenotype may seem easier to characterize than genotypes, the task is actually far larger.

The vast complexity of human clinical and biological data is not easily digitized. As Venter notes, a query like "are you diabetic?" is simple enough to answer with a yes or no, but that one query raises many more: age, diet, medication, family history, vascular health, environment, etc. Only by pulling all that data into one place can we really begin to use the genome to revolutionize medicine. Which means . . .

The Next Big Genomics Breakthrough is Actually a Computing Breakthrough

Say we had all the genotype data and phenotype data we ever wanted. Without a means to process, analyze and cross-reference all that information, we would simply be floating on a sea of base pairs and phenotype data with no practical means of navigation. "The need for such an analysis could be the best justification for building a proposed ´exascale´ supercomputer, which would run 1,000 times faster than today´s fastest computers," Venter writes. Such mechanisms could unlock a future not where each person has access to his or her own genome, but to several genomes taken from various cell types within their bodies.
Collins agrees, emphasizing that there´s no substitute for good old fashioned elbow grease; large-scale research projects tediously logging reams of data and technological breakthroughs that allow us to make use of all that information will be the driving forces behind the next great strides in genetic research.

Graduate research assistants and computer scientists, sharpen your pencils. The future of genetics, it turns out, is in your hands.

Source: popsci.com



Related Articles
Dr. J. Craig Venter - A DNA-Driven World from The Richard Dimbleby Lecture 2007 (Video)
Darth Venter (J. Craig Venter) & The Archon Genomics X Prize
Patent sought on synthetic life
Marylands Prometheus
Longevity & The Grail (Video)
Synthetic DNA on the Brink of Yielding New Life Forms
Aubrey de Grey, Artificial Intelligence, Singularity, Longevity and the Holy Grail
Artificial life likely in 3 to 10 years
First genome transplant turns one species into another
Team develops DNA switch to interface living organisms with computers
Scientists have a new way to reshape nature, but none can predict the cost
Bring on the nanobots, and we will live long and prosper
DNA Factories
I Have a Genetic Dream


Latest News from our Front Page

Better Identification of Viking Corpses Reveals: Half of the Warriors Were Female
2015-04-25 4:52
Shieldmaidens are not a myth! A recent archaeological discovery has shattered the stereotype of exclusively male Viking warriors sailing out to war while their long-suffering wives wait at home with baby Vikings. (We knew it! We always knew it.) Plus, some other findings are challenging that whole “rape and pillage” thing, too. Researchers at the University of Western Australia decided ...
Off Your Knees, Germany! Ernst Zundel 1983 - 2003
2015-04-25 1:15
For more information on the holocaust, how the war was forced upon Germany, and the REAL victims of the second world war see: http://gblt.webs.com/Real_Holocaust.htm http://web.archive.org/web/20130806074314/http://www.666blacksun.org/ http://www.zundelsite.org/
IRS Drops Attack For Six Years – No Evidence of Jurisdiction
2015-04-24 20:29
A big congrats to a friend I’ve been working with for several years, he stood up to the predators commonly called the “IRS” and they dropped their attack. Thanks also for providing me with the proof below. The criminals called the “IRS” initiated an attack claiming my friend was required to file six tax returns, or explain how he made ...
Into Eternity - Finland's 100,000 Year Massive Underground Spent Nuclear Fuel Program
2015-04-24 20:49
Into Eternity is a documentary about a deep geological repository for nuclear waste. The concept of long-term underground storage for radioactive waste has been explored since the 1950s. The inner part of the Russian doll-like storage canisters is to be composed of copper. Hence in the case of Onkalo it is tightly linked to experiments on copper corrosion in running ...
SPLC Accuses Oath Keepers of Inciting “Armed Confrontation” Over Sugar Pine Mine
2015-04-24 20:22
The Southern Poverty Law Center has accused Oath Keepers of inciting an armed confrontation with BLM authorities over the Sugar Pine Mine dispute in Oregon, despite the fact that the organization has explicitly stated that it is not promoting armed confrontation with the feds. In an article provocatively posted on the organization’s ‘Hatewatch’ section entitled Oath Keepers Descend Upon Oregon with ...
More News »