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The Genome's First Birthday, Translational Medicine Gains Popularity, and Shopping for New Lab Equipment


Genome Technology celebrated the human genome's first birthday in February 2002. Human genome databases were growing, and researchers were becoming proficient at annotating and assembling genomes. The Institute for System Biology's Nat Goodman said he was looking forward to seeing more growth in the knowledge of the genome in its second year as well as seeing more genomes sequenced.

Today, technology is rapidly improving, and some experts say a $1,000 genome is within reach. But the next challenge has already arrived — with sequencing becoming so fast and inexpensive, researchers find themselves at a bit of a loss as to how to deal with the resulting mounds of data. In 2010, Washington University in St. Louis' Elaine Mardis authored a Genome Medicine editorial asking what good a $1,000 genome would be if it was accompanied by a $100,000 analysis. While many researchers are working on solutions to the problem, it is still an issue.

For its February 2007 issue, GT spoke with researchers who were making strides in translational research, trying to bridge the gap between the bench and the clinic. What was once a "buzzword" had developed into a persistent trend that was drawing major money, GT said at the time.

Indeed, the US National Institutes of Health just secured funding to create a new center dedicated to translational research. The National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences has caused a lot of consternation in the scientific community as many researchers say NIH is straying from its mission of basic research. In a recent press release, however, NIH said NCATS would not interfere with NIH's basic research programs. Director Francis Collins, who championed the $575 million center, said he hopes the scientific community will work together to "forge a new paradigm" of translational research.

Last year, GT asked researchers how they decide which lab equipment to buy, and when. These experts emphasized the importance of shopping around to find the best platform or technology for a lab's specific purpose and making sure the equipment would be useful in the long term.

With budgets tightening, a few researchers are now turning to eBay and other auction sites to get the machines they need on the cheap. In a recent GenomeWeb poll, 20 percent of respondents said they had purchased equipment from eBay, and would do so again.

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