In the past, scientists have primarily examined the mtDNA of ancient DNA. After all, mtDNA is much more prevalent (100â€™s to 1000â€™s of copies per cell) than nuclear DNA (just 1 copy per cell) and thus it is easier to find samples that are not degraded by time. New amplification techniques as well as improved anti-contamination procedures have made it possible for Y chromosomal DNA to be
In a new study (epub ahead of print – which means that it is available online before it is published in Human Genetics), researchers examined the remains of male skeletons that were buried in the loessal soil in Maqiao, Xindili, Wucheng, Daxi, and Taosi, areas along the Yangtze River. Interestingly, these skeletons were buried without chests or coffins. … Click to read more!
Jason Bobe over at The Personal Genome has a great post this week called “False Alarm: The Celebrity Meme” about the use of ‘famous’ scientists in early genome sequencing.Â He poses a number of interesting and thought-provoking questions about the topic.Â Make sure you read the comments that others have left.Â Hsien at EyeonDNA wrote so much that she made her answers a full-length post.
The subject is traveling all over the blogosphere.Â The Rocketfish Manifesto addresses personal genome sequencing with a little bit of humor.Â And John Hawks’ Anthropology Weblog has a lengthy post with some new insights.Â There is a lot of great reading material available if you’re interested in the Personal Genome … Click to read more!
I recently came across a review article by Henry T. Greely, a Professor of Law, Professor (by courtesy) of Genetics, and Director of the Center for Law and Bioethics at Stanford. The article is entitled â€œThe Uneasy Ethical and Legal Underpinnings of Large-Scale Genomic Biobanks (pdf)â€ and was recently published in the Annual Review of Genomics and Human Genetics.
According to Mr. Greely, the identity of participants in large-scale genomic biobanks cannot effectively protected. A biobank is defined as a database of genotypic and phenotypic data. Using genetic information, physical information, or a combination of the two, people can identify an individual in such a large database:
â€œSomeone really interested could get a DNA sample from me – from a licked stamp, a drinking glass, or some tissue – and have it genotyped for a few hundred dollars, but few will have to go to the genomic data; the phenotypic and demographic data will often be sufficient.â€
â€œEliminating name, mailing address, and social security number does not eliminate identifiers; it just eliminates the easiest identifiers, making the search somewhat more difficult and expensive.â€
Unfortunately, it is impossible to remove all the data one could use to identify biobank … Click to read more!
A recent study (epub ahead of print) published in Human Heredity examines the Y-DNA and mtDNA haplogroups of 120 black males from Sao Paulo, Brazil. Approximately four million Africans were taken as slaves to Brazil where they interbred extensively with Amerindians and Europeans. Previous studies from this group have shown that while white Brazilians have predominately European Y-DNA, they have high a proportion of African and Amerindian mtDNA.
Interestingly, the study showed that while only 48% of the Y-DNA was characteristic of sub-Saharan Africa, 85% of the mtDNA appeared to be of African origin. The authors also used the results to estimate the ancestral contribution of Central-West, West, and Southeast Africa to African Brazilians from … Click to read more!
A couple of interesting news articles from … Click to read more!
As you all know, I have high hopes for the genetic profiling company 23andMe. Although 23andMe has not officially launched a product available to the public, it turns out that the founders have chosen a great name for their company.
Nancy Friedman, a name developer and corporate copywriter based in Oakland, has written a lengthy analysis of the name â€˜23andMeâ€™ on her blog â€˜Away with Words.â€™ She suggests that the name was deftly crafted and is even better than the oft-suggested name â€˜46andMe.â€™ Ms. Friedmanâ€™s post is also the first place Iâ€™ve ever seen a pronunciation for Anne Wojcickiâ€™s last name (which is wo-JIT-skee). Turns out I wasnâ€™t too far … Click to read more!
Here they are, the “First 10″, the first ten volunteers of the Personal Genome Project, announced today:
- Misha Angrist, Ph.D. is Senior Science Editor at the Duke Institute for Genome Sciences and Policy in Durham, N.C. His work has appeared in The Michigan Quarterly Review and the Best New American Voices anthology, among other places. Dr. Angrist is also an independent consultant to the life sciences industry. He earned his M.S. in biology from the University of Cincinnati and his Ph.D. in genetics from Case Western Reserve University. His doctoral work focused on the complex inheritance of Hirschsprung disease. Following completion of his post-doctoral in 1998, Dr. Angrist covered the life sciences industry as an analyst for The Freedonia Group and was portfolio manager for the hedge fund Biotech Horizons Fund, LP. Dr. Angrist also holds a M.F.A. from the Bennington Writing Seminars. His firm, Ars Vita Consulting, Inc., provides insight to clients in the biotechnology, pharmaceutical, and broader healthcare arenas. For recent news by or about Dr. Angrist, see The New Atlantis and Future Medicine.
- Keith Batchelder, M.D. is the founder and CEO of Genomic Healthcare Strategies. Dr. Batchelder received an MD from Hahnemann University School of Medicine, an MS in Materials Science from New York University, a DMD from the University of Connecticut School of Dental Medicine, and a BA in physics from Middlebury College. Dr. Batchelder has been a consultant for personalized health and wellness companies such as Lineagen and an officer in several health-care organizations. He was chief technical officer of Worldcare Clinical Trials, and was a core member of the team that created Harvard Salud Integral, a new HMO in Mexico City, where he helped secure angel funding in a newly privatized healthcare environment and helped to grow the plan to cover 150,000 patients. He was also an early principal with Amicas, a company that was successfully sold for approximately $30 million cash and stock equivalents. For recent news about Dr. Batchelder, see Nature, Mass High Tech, and an interview with our own EyeonDNA!
- George M. Church, Ph.D. is a Professor of Genetics at Harvard Medical School and Professor of Health Sciences & Technology at Harvard and MIT. With Walter Gilbert he developed the first direct genomic sequencing method in 1984 and helped initiate the Human Genome Project in 1984 while he was a Research Scientist at newly-formed Biogen Inc. He invented the broadly-applied concepts of molecular multiplexing and tags, homologous recombination methods, and DNA array synthesizers. Technology transfer of automated sequencing & software to Genome Therapeutics Corp. resulted in the first commercial genome sequence, (the human pathogen, Helicobacter pylori) in 1994. He initiated the Personal Genome Project (PGP) in 2005 and research on synthetic biology. He is director of the U.S. Department of Energy Center on Bioenergy at Harvard & MIT and director of the National Institutes of Health (NHGRI) Center of Excellence in Genomic Science at Harvard, MIT & Washington University. He has been advisor to 22 companies, most recently co-founding (with Joseph Jacobson, Jay Keasling, and Drew Endy) Codon Devices, a biotech startup dedicated to synthetic biology and (with Chris Somerville) founding LS9, which is focused on biofuels. He is a senior editor for Nature EMBO Molecular Systems Biology. See the Boston Globe, Technology Review, his departmental page, his lab webpage, and our very own PersonalGenome.
- Esther Dyson is an active member of a number of non-profit and advisory organizations. From 1998 to 2000, she was the founding chairman of ICANN, the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers. She has followed closely the post-Soviet transition of Eastern Europe, and is a member of the Bulgarian President’s IT Advisory Council, along with Vint Cerf, George Sadowsky, and Veni Markovski, among others. She has served as a trustee of, and helped fund, emerging organizations such as Glasses for Humanity, Bridges.org, the National Endowment for Democracy, and the Eurasia Foundation. She is also a member of the board for The Long Now Foundation, trustee for the Santa Fe Institute, the Advisory Board of the Stockholm Challenge Award and is a part-owner of the First Monday journal. She is a member of the President’s Export Council Subcommittee on Encryption and sits on the boards of the Electronic Frontier Foundation, Scala Business Solutions, Poland Online, Cygnus Solution, E-Pub Services, Trustworks (Amsterdam), IBS (Moscow), iCat, New World Publishing and the Global Business Network. She is on the advisory boards of Perot Systems and the Internet Capital Group, and a limited partner of the Mayfield Software Fund. She has also been a board member or early investor in tech startups, among them Flickr, PowerSet.com, ZEDO, Medscape, Medstory, XCOR, Constellation Services, Zero-G,Icon Aircraft and Space Adventures. Ms. Dyson is the daughter of Freeman Dyson, a physicist, and Verana Huber-Dyson, a mathematician. She holds a Bachelor’s degree in economics from Harvard University (1972). For recent news about Ms. Dyson, see The Huffington Post, Media Visions, MediaPost, and The Wall Street Journal.
- Rosalynn Gill-Garrison, Ph.D., is a founder and Chief Science Officer of Sciona, an international company that provides personalized health and nutrition recommendations based on an individual’s diet, lifestyle and unique genetic profile. Dr. Gill-Garrison is also on the panel of experts at Genelex. Dr. Gill-Garrison received her Ph.D. in Biological Sciences at the University of Texas at Austin, where she focused on the DNA-damaging effects of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons in animal and bacterial models. She went to the UK in1994 to the Department of Oncology at University College London before co-founding Sciona in 2000. For recent news about Dr. Gill-Garrison, see Time, MedScape, The Scientist, and the BBC.
- John D. Halamka, M.D., M.S., is Chief Information Officer of Harvard Medical School, Chief Information Officer of Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, Chairman of the New England Health Electronic Data Interchange Network (NEHEN), Chief Information Officer of the Harvard Clinical Research Institute (HCRI), and an Associate Professor of Emergency Medicine at Harvard Medical School. Dr. Halamka completed his undergraduate studies at Stanford University where he received a degree in Medical Microbiology and a degree in Public Policy with a focus on technology issues. Dr. Halamka received a medical degree at the University of California San Francisco while pursuing graduate work in Bioengineering at the University of California, Berkeley, focusing on technology issues in medicine. For recent news about Dr. Halamka, see The Boston Globe, BIDMC News, Yahoo Finance News, a podcast about health information exchange, and a newscast about online medical records.
- Stanley N. Lapidus, B.S.E.E., is the President and CEO of Helicos, a company that develops genetic analysis technologies for research, drug discovery, and clinical diagnostics markets. Helicos is Mr. Lapidus’ third life-science startup. In 1995 he founded EXACT Sciences Corporation, an applied genomics company that develops and markets non-invasive, DNA-based methods for early detection of colorectal and other common cancers. He served as the CEO from 1995 to 2001 and Chairman of EXACT Sciences’ Board of Directors from 2000 until the end of 2005. Prior to EXACT, Mr. Lapidus founded Cytyc Corporation and was President and CEO from 1987 through 1994. In addition to his entrepreneurial activities, Mr. Lapidus holds academic appointments in the Pathology Department at Tufts University Medical School and MIT’s Sloan School of Management. He earned a BSEE from Cooper Union. He has served as a trustee of Cooper Union since 2002. Mr. Lapidus holds 30 issued patents. For recent news about Mr. Lapidus, see Flagship Ventures, MarketingVP, The Hazelton Group, and Technology Review.
- Kirk M. Maxey, M.D. is the President of Cayman Chemical, a research biochemical company he started while still a student. After receiving his B.S. in Chemistry from Colorado State University, Dr. Maxey worked as a chemist at the Upjohn Company in Kalamazoo, Michigan. He later received his M.D. from the University of Michigan. Dr. Maxey has been a consultant and expert witness for Alcon and Pfizer as well as a contributing editor and reviewer for Prostaglandins and Other Lipid Mediators. While a student in the 1980′s, Dr. Maxey was a frequent contributor at sperm banks. contributed For recent news about Dr. Maxey, see PBS and ABC News.
- James L. Sherley, M.D., Ph.D. was formerly an associate professor in the Biological Engineering Division at the Center for Environmental Health Sciences in the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He earned an M.D. and a Ph.D. in molecular biology from the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine in 1988. Dr. Sherley’s laboratory addressed the problems that limit the development of adult stem cells for biomedicine. Dr. Sherley’s awards include the 2006 NIH Director’s Pioneer Award, an award from the Pew Scholars Program in the Biomedical Sciences, selection for the Pew Science and Society Institute, and the Ellison Medical Foundation Senior Scholar Award in Aging. For recent news about Dr. Sherley, see Future Health, Boston.com, Diverse Education, The Chronicle, and Boston.com.
The 10th participant has not yet given permission for the release of his/her name. From the … Click to read more!
Thereâ€™s a great recent article in Scientific American entitled â€œWhat Finnish Grandmothers Reveal about Human Evolutionâ€ highlighting the research of biologist Virpi Lummaa. Iâ€™ve mentioned before that while genetics is a useful tool for genealogical research, genealogy can also be a useful tool for genetic research! Dr. Lummaaâ€™s research does exactly that.
Dr. Lummaa used 200 years of genealogical records to study the influence of evolution on reproductionâ€
â€œThe 33-year-old Finnish biologist, aided by genealogists, has pored through centuries-old tomes (and microfiche) for birth, marriage and death records, which ended up providing glimpses of evolution at work in humanity’s recent ancestors.â€
Dr. Lummaa proposes the following findings from her … Click to read more!