Human Genome: Code Breakers

We’ve heard of DNA plenty of times on TV- it’s in crime dramas and courtroom scenes, providing (usually) undeniable evidence of who is the guilty party. But, what is our DNA and how did we figure out how to use all the information that’s stored there? This week we talk with Dr. Eric Green and Dr. Mark Kiel to learn about how we cracked DNA’s code and what we can do with the huge amount of information we have access to- especially in the medical field. Dr. Eric Green is the director of the National Human Genome Research Institute (NHGRI) and was a part of the Human Genome Project. Dr. Mark Kiel is a co-founder of Genomenon, a company who helps us make sense of the data we can collect from DNA.

DNA is something that we carry around with us everyday and understanding can help us understand so much about who we are and how to care for each other better. We’re excited to start this new series and hope you enjoy as much as we did!

Memorable Quotes

“So you can think of a genome as, sort of, an organisms’ blueprint or, in our case, a human or person’s blueprint.”

“The big part why the Human Genome Project sought to first establish a reference representation of the human genome was so that we could build on top of that knowledge about when you see a change in DNA how does that have consequences with respect to health and well-being of people.”

“What the Genome Project produced was the ordering of the 3 billion letters in the human genome. It did not provide an interpretation of those letters. And understanding that code, you can imagine…is an immense task and will be far more difficult to interpret and understand the human genome than to actually sequence the human genome.”

“When I saw the patients and the way that their clinicians interacted with them, I saw that the data, the diagnostic information, was really the key to unlocking appropriate medical decision making and increasing I have seen that coming out of genetics and genomics.”

“Genomics can predict the risk for disease and it can also predict or tell a clinician if you actually do have a disease.”

“What we’re projecting, I would say, in the next 5 years…there will be more [disease] indications, there will be more diseases, more behavioral or phenomenological aspects of human health and biology that will lend themselves to being understood through genome science, and increasing awareness of disease risk that can be understood in genetics and genomics.”

Resources

To find out more about the basics of DNA, check out this YouTube video!

To learn more about Dr. Mark Kiel and Genomenon and they work they do, click here.

To learn more about Dr. Eric Green, check out this short biography.

Follow Dr. Kiel (@DrMarkKiel), Genomenon (@genomenon), and the National Human Genome Research Institute (@genome_gov) on Twitter!

You can also learn more about the platform that Dr. Kiel mentioned for controlling and understanding your health data at Ciitizen.

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