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What Makes Us Human (Besides 'To Err')?

The May issue of Scientific American includes an article by Katie Pollard, who may be best known for her work elucidating HAR1 in David Haussler's lab and who is now a biostatistician at the University of California, San Francisco. The article focuses on how comparative genomics is highlighting DNA that appears to occur only in humans, and Pollard recounts her and Haussler's reaction to learning about HAR1: "We yelled, 'Awesome!' in unison when we saw that HAR1 might be part of a gene new to science that is active in the brain."

Later in the article, she sums up, "These rapidly evolving, uniquely human sequences do point to a way forward. The story of what made us human is probably not going to focus on changes in our protein building blocks but rather on how evolution assembled these blocks in new ways by changing when and where in the body different genes turn on and off."

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The Scan

NFTs for Genome Sharing

Nature News writes that non-fungible tokens could be a way for people to profit from sharing genomic data.

Wastewater Warning System

Time magazine writes that cities and college campuses are monitoring sewage for SARS-CoV-2, an approach officials hope lasts beyond COVID-19.

Networks to Boost Surveillance

Scientific American writes that new organizations and networks aim to improve the ability of developing countries to conduct SARS-CoV-2 genomic surveillance.

Genome Biology Papers on Gastric Cancer Epimutations, BUTTERFLY, GUNC Tool

In Genome Biology this week: recurrent epigenetic mutations in gastric cancer, correction tool for unique molecular identifier-based assays, and more.