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Daniel Gibson on 'Cooking Up Genomes'

Boonsri Dickinson, a blogger at SmartPlanet (which is sponsored by IBM), says that JCVI's "Daniel Gibson can synthesize genomes the way the Iron Chef whips up a mean dinner dish." In speaking with Gibson recently, Dickinson collected the researcher's thoughts on building genomes, producing vaccines, and leisure-reading. Gibson tells SmartPlanet that "now that we can produce synthetic cells, we can synthesize minimal genomes and make minimal cells where we understand the function of every gene in that cell and what DNA is required to sustain life in its simplest form." Of the JCVI's synthetic genomics approach to vaccine production, Gibson says that his team's "DNA sequence databases are filling up with novel genes and pathways waiting to be identified, optimized, and expressed" for this purpose. And when asked about the last book he'd read, Gibson replies: "Who has time to read books when you're synthesizing genomes?"

The Scan

Purnell Choppin Dies

Purnell Choppin, a virologist who led the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, has died at 91, according to the Washington Post.

Effectiveness May Decline, Data From Israel Suggests

The New York Times reports that new Israeli data suggests a decline in Pfizer-BioNTech SARS-CoV-2 vaccine effectiveness against Delta variant infection, though protection against severe disease remains high.

To See Future Risk

Slate looks into the use of polygenic risk scores in embryo screening.

PLOS Papers on Methicillin-Resistant Staphylococcus, Bone Marrow Smear Sequencing, More

In PLOS this week: genomic analysis of methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus pseudintermedius, archived bone marrow sequencing, and more.