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The Changing Roles of 'The Sequencers'

Writing in Nature, Kelly Rae Chi examines the changing landscape of genome sequencing, and what it means for related careers. "The job of a 'sequencer' is changing fast within core facilities — the university hubs dedicated to sequencing — as well as in individual labs and companies," she writes, adding that as the sequencing process becomes more and more automated, many labs are looking to employ in-house programmers to analyze their data. Sample preparers and technicians, Chi writes, must adapt to "the nuances of four to six different protocols rather than one or two, because the [next-generation] technology allows investigators to sequence RNA and DNA in several ways." Elaine Mardis, co-director of the Genome Center at Washington University in St. Louis tells Nature that advances in technology could require "intensive, highly specialized training." Chi reports that bioinformaticians, "the fastest-growing group of sequencer-related scientists in academia and industry," also face changing roles as a consequence of specialization. Going forward, bioinformaticians will likely take on "layered roles," she writes, in which they bring to the sequencing center their software engineering, database administration, and mathematics skills, among other things. Because bionformaticians are critical in the interpretation of data, Jim Mulkin, acting director of the National Institutes of Health's Intramural Sequencing Center, tells Nature that "almost every lab now needs to have a bioinformatician on their team."

The Scan

Germline-Targeting HIV Vaccine Shows Promise in Phase I Trial

A National Institutes of Health-led team reports in Science that a broadly neutralizing antibody HIV vaccine induced bnAb precursors in 97 percent of those given the vaccine.

Study Uncovers Genetic Mutation in Childhood Glaucoma

A study in the Journal of Clinical Investigation ties a heterozygous missense variant in thrombospondin 1 to childhood glaucoma.

Gene Co-Expression Database for Humans, Model Organisms Gets Update

GeneFriends has been updated to include gene and transcript co-expression networks based on RNA-seq data from 46,475 human and 34,322 mouse samples, a new paper in Nucleic Acids Research says.

New Study Investigates Genomics of Fanconi Anemia Repair Pathway in Cancer

A Rockefeller University team reports in Nature that FA repair deficiency leads to structural variants that can contribute to genomic instability.