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:: Posted by American Biotechnologist on 01-26-2012
Anyone familiar with scientific advances in the last few years should be well acquainted with the Personal Genome Project (PGP) launched by Dr. George Church in this 2005 Nature editorial. For those of you who have been living in a secluded cave somewhere for the past 6 years, the Personal Genome Project hopes to enroll 100,000 participants from the general public who are willing to have their genomes sequenced and allow the results to be published in a massive database along with extensive information about their traits and medical history. It is hoped that the information provided will help scientists test hypotheses about the relationships among genes, traits, and environment.
Perhaps less well known is what it takes to become a volunteer for this project. In order to enroll as a volunteer, potential participants must take an entrance exam that tests basic genetics literacy, informed consent expertise, and knowledge about the rights and responsibilities of human research subjects. That’s right…you must take a test and score 100% in order to qualify for participation in the study!
We thought that it would be fun for readers of this blog, who should be more familiar with the above topics than the average PGP volunteer, to take the practice tests associated with the study guide to see how much they actually remember from their first year courses! The tests are multiple choice so that should help prevent total embarrassment, but my guess is that most of us would not score 100% without preparing in advance. I took the gene transmission test and scored 9/10. Not enough to qualify as a volunteer!
Try your hand a the tests below and let us know how well you performed. Good Luck!
:: Posted by American Biotechnologist on 01-05-2012
Have you ever thought about what genomic DNA and MP3 headphones have in common? Dr. Erez Leiberman Aiden has and it has netted him a prestigious $25,000 prize and a 5 year, $2.5M new investigator award. What does one thing have to do with the other? Read on to find out! Read the rest of this entry »
:: Posted by American Biotechnologist on 01-04-2012
In the beginning, scientists sequenced the human genome. And the human genome was good…but not good enough.
Next came epigenetics. And epigenetics was also good. But not good enough.
And then scientists thought very hard and invented a technology for producing three-dimensional genome structures. And three-dimensional structures was good. Very good.
In a Nature Biotechnology article published December 25th, 2011, a team of scientists from the University of Southern California, described a method for genome-wide mapping of chromatin interactions known as tethered conformation capture (TCC). The method performs ligations on solid substrates rather than in solution, which helps facilitate a detailed analysis of interactions within and between chromosomes. The team then developed a computational method to translate the TCC data into physical chromatin contacts in a population of three-dimensional genome structures.
Understanding the structure of the genome is crucial to understanding its function as a whole, said Lin Chen, professor of molecular biology at the USC Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Sciences.
“Everything biological works in the three dimensions,” Chen said. “Therefore, to understand it completely, you have to understand it three-dimensionally.”
By analyzing the differences and similarities in genome structure between various cells, scientists are able to discern what basic principles of 3-D organization are. In addition, the structure allows scientists to see where each gene is located relative to any other gene and how this arrangement is important to cellular functions.