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Directing Dollars, and a Winsome Website


Back in the heyday of the Human Genome Project, a lot of people questioned the rationale for the public sector continuing to sequence the genome when a private company, Celera, had stepped up to do the same thing. Was this apparent redundancy, they asked, really a worthwhile use of taxpayers’ money?

The merit of having both sequences has proven itself, even to most detractors, in the intervening years. But you’ve got to admit that at the time the issue came up, it was a good question.

I have a feeling we’re about to get déjà vu as the latest NHGRI initiative, this one aimed at chemical genomics, takes off. Participants compare its scale and cost to that of the genome project, and people can surely make the case that the effort’s goal of small molecule discovery has been done many times over in the pharmaceutical industry with billions and billions of private-sector dollars.

Will it prove a good use of our money? Only time will tell. But to inform the coming debate, Senior Editor John MacNeil asked hard-hitting questions and presents his findings in this month’s cover story. It’s an informative, thought-provoking piece, and I think you’ll find it valuable.

In other news this month, we’re looking at comparative and evolutionary genomics, and in particular the technologies advancing this field. With old technologies being put to new uses and new ones in the works, it’s a good time to review this arena and see what might come of all this great science.

Throughout this issue, you’ll see something new. It’s our new Web information icon, and we attach it to stories when there’s extra information for you to look at on our website. Based on what you told us in focus groups and reader surveys last year, you’re hungry for more citations, Web links, and any other sources of data you can get your hands on — so we think we have a great solution. From now on, we’ll be collecting this kind of data for as many stories as possible, and you can go to our website to see it.

Speaking of the website, I hope you’ll stop by even if you’re not looking for a citation. We’ve made a big effort in the last several months to make our site more relevant, with frequently updated information and plenty of opportunities for reader feedback. Now it’s easy to go online and recommend a paper for our Peer Review section, answer a lab tips question for our Lab Notebook page, let us know about upcoming events for the calendar, and plenty of other things. As you may already know, there’s an archive search too so you can look for GT articles from yesteryear. Best of all, the entire website is completely accessible to all subscribers. (If you haven’t registered yet, just have the customer number from your address label handy.) Be sure to stop by.


Meredith W. Salisbury, Editor


What do you think of Genome Technology? Let me know how we’re doing by e-mailing me at [email protected] or by calling me at +1.212.651.5635.


The Scan

Mosquitos Genetically Modified to Prevent Malaria Spread

A gene drive approach could be used to render mosquitos unable to spread malaria, researchers report in Science Advances.

Gut Microbiomes Allow Bears to Grow to Similar Sizes Despite Differing Diets

Researchers in Scientific Reports find that the makeup of brown bears' gut microbiomes allows them to reach similar sizes even when feasting on different foods.

Finding Safe Harbor in the Human Genome

In Genome Biology, researchers present a new approach to identify genomic safe harbors where transgenes can be expressed without affecting host cell function.

New Data Point to Nuanced Relationship Between Major Depression, Bipolar Disorder

Lund University researchers in JAMA Psychiatry uncover overlapping genetic liabilities for major depression and bipolar disorder.