Wired Science's Thomas Goetz recently spoke to Craig Venter at an event hosted by City Arts & Lectures and the California Academy of Sciences, on genomics, synthetic biology, and the implications of new research for human health. While Goetz describes Venter's accomplishments in somewhat rapturous tones — calling him "a figure who has pushed science forward, sometimes by sheer force of will" — he also asked Venter what he thinks the implications of genome sequencing are. Venter said the advancement in technology is certainly important, as is the beginnings of personalized medicine. However, Venter added, researchers need to interpret tens of thousands of genomes before they can make sense of the data in a "meaningful statistical manner of what your DNA is telling you."
Additionally, Venter told Goetz that his work with synthetic genomes proves that "we have 200 trillion cells, and the outcome of each of them is almost 100 percent genetically determined." Humans are more a product of their genes than their environment, he added, and that should also have an effect on how the genome is interpreted. "We're a country that seems to love drama and disasters. We're not so good at preventing them. But preventing disease is the future of medicine. That’s the only way to lower costs and improve outcomes," Venter said.