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J. Craig Venter and Personal Genetics

Wow, what a day for personal genetics. Yesterday, J. Craig Venter’s diploid genome was released (I’m not sure where the sequence is, but the paper is available at PLoS Biology, a OPEN ACCESS journal!).

I know that many people have their gripe about Venter, but seeing a story about personal genetics on the front page of CNN is important. It educates people and helps alleviate fears about genomic sequencing. I think it’s a great opportunity for the field. Here’s a few quotes from the CNN story:

“Venter has just published almost all 6 billion letters, or 96 percent, of his own personal genetic code in the journal PLoS Biology. From diseases to personality traits, it’s the most comprehensive human genome to date. Venter’s gene map provides a new understanding of his genetic destiny, according to the DNA inherited from both his father and his mother.

Venter says it’s just the beginning of a new era of personal genomics. “For the first time, we can answer almost any question of what’s genetic, what’s the environment. Our genes can tell us probabilities of what might happen and give us a chance to do something about it.”

There are also some quotes from George Church, leader of the Personal Genome Project:

“Dr. George Church, a professor of genetics at Harvard Medical School, is working on a DNA test that would identify for the consumer 1 percent of his or her DNA at a cost of $1,000. He says that someday soon, people may be checking their DNA maps as they do their stock portfolios — constantly adjusting to everyday developments and new gene discoveries.

“You’ll have all that information sitting at your desk and as the information flows in you’ll say, ‘I only want to know things of certain type. I don’t want to know about Alzheimer’s, or I don’t want to know about heart disease, or I do, or I want to know about everything, as soon as it comes in,” says Church.

It’s a habit Venter already follows. As more genes are discovered, he says, he constantly checks his own genome.”

For all the genetic genealogists out there, our habit will undoubtedly be comparing our genomes in order to find or identify potential relatives. Sure, curing disease and improving health is important, but genealogy is FUN!

The DNA Network has provided LOTS of coverage of the diploid genome release, so check out the following:

Whew, that should keep you busy for a while!!

Blaine Bettinger

Intellectual property attorney, genealogist, and author of The Genetic Genealogist since 2007

12 Comments

  1. “I’m not sure where the sequence is”
    The sequence can be found at
    ftp://ftp.ncbi.nih.gov/pub/TraceDB/Personal_Genomics

    Note that the Venter sequence is not primary data. This appears to be a scrubbed and distilled consensus assembled into large contigs. Total size = ~12G

    The Watson data in the same directory does appear to be raw, fresh from the 454 machines.
    Total size = ~19.5G

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