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Slower than Breakneck


I was in college when the first draft of the human genome came out. Not long after, Craig Venter came to my university to speak at convocation about the Human Genome Project — the biology department was quite excited and many of us biology majors went, despite usually skipping convocation to do almost anything else. The title of Venter's talk was "Sequencing the Human Genome: Gateway to a New Era in Science and Medicine." At the 10th anniversary of the draft genome last year, some of that ebullience was glaringly absent. Critics were quick to say the $2.7 billion Human Genome Project hadn't made good on its promise to cure disease.

However, even if it isn't happening at breakneck speed, genomics does seem to be leading to changes in medicine and healthcare. In this month's cover story, Christie Rizk examines how genomics findings are moving into the clinic to tailor medical treatments to patients' needs. While it is slow going due to a number of challenges — not the least of which are teaching physicians about genomics, organizing genomics data for clinicians, and convincing insurance companies to pay for tests and drugs — personalized medicine is increasingly part of healthcare. The classic example, the Institute for Systems Biology's Lee Hood tells Christie, is Herceptin, which is not a one-size-fits-all drug as it treats HER2-positive breast cancer.

Elsewhere in this issue, Genome Technology presents the results of its biennial core lab survey. Both core lab and non-core lab scientists gave their feedback on the work cores are doing. Generally speaking, users are happy with their cores, though they'd like more sequencing tools and better bioinformatics. For their part, core lab workers would like to expand the number of tools they offer and have more automation. Head over to page 21 for the lowdown.

Finally, Matthew Dublin spoke with the University of British Columbia's Rosie Redfield for this month's Q&A. She has been making waves for the past year for her vocal criticism of a Science paper from NASA's Felisa Wolfe-Simon on a bacterium that could incorporate arsenic into its DNA instead of phosphate. Matt speaks with Redfield about her experiments to rebut those findings and the need for open science.

The Scan

Pig Organ Transplants Considered

The Wall Street Journal reports that the US Food and Drug Administration may soon allow clinical trials that involve transplanting pig organs into humans.

'Poo-Bank' Proposal

Harvard Medical School researchers suggest people should bank stool samples when they are young to transplant when they later develop age-related diseases.

Spurred to Develop Again

New Scientist reports that researchers may have uncovered why about 60 percent of in vitro fertilization embryos stop developing.

Science Papers Examine Breast Milk Cell Populations, Cerebral Cortex Cellular Diversity, Micronesia Population History

In Science this week: unique cell populations found within breast milk, 100 transcriptionally distinct cell populations uncovered in the cerebral cortex, and more.