NEW YORK, Sept 7 – An international group of 30 public scientists are currently annotating the human genome with the hope of publishing the data in December, Eric Lander, director of MIT’s Whitehead Institute for Genome Research, said Thursday.
“My feeling is that Science will devote an entire special issue to it at the turn of the year,” Lander told people at the opening of the “Paradise Now: Picturing the Genetic Revolution” exhibit in a gallery in New York’s Soho art district.
They have yet, however, to submit a paper to the journal, he said.
Celera (NYSE:CRA) has said that they are also planning to publish their annotation data by the end of the year. Industry experts have speculated that the papers submitted by the private and public projects would be published together.
With a brightly colored painting of square cucumbers and oversized genetically modified cows, chickens, and crops as backdrop, Lander told the crowd that genome annotation is a lot like genome art.
Both disciplines seek to draw meaning from the human genome, he said.
While researchers seek to add scientific meaning to the raw sequence data of the human genome – the string of 3.1 billion A’s, C’s, G’s, and T’s – art wrestles with finding the meaning of the data in a social context.
“That’s not a question you could answer with science,” said Lander. “For that you have to look to art, to literature, to philosophy,” Lander said.
In turn, both artists and scientists can look to the genome for new understanding about what people see when they look at art.
“The number of red and green color receptors on the X chromosome varies – some people have three or four, some people have one or two. And nobody really has digested what this means for how you perceive art,” he said.