TOP JOURNALS: RESEARCH HIGHLIGHTS FROM SCIENCE MAGAZINE (FEB 5, 2021)

This week, Science celebrates the impending 20th anniversary of the publication of the draft human genome sequence—a landmark achievement by any measure…The Human Genome Project (HGP) was an internationally supported public project (Celera Genomics was the private effort that simultaneously sequenced the human genome). When the endeavor was launched in 1990, collaboration among a diverse group of scientists was essential because the sequencing was distributed across a number of international research sites.

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The American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS, the publisher of Science) also looks forward to next week’s annual meeting, whose theme is “Understanding Dynamic Ecosystems.” At first glance, these two events may seem unrelated. But the successful completion of the human genome sequence ushered in biology’s era of “big science” and created a research ecosystem for tackling complex, technology-driven, and data-intensive multidisciplinary projects that continue to improve our understanding of cancer, the microbiome, the brain, and other areas of biology.

The Human Genome Project (HGP) was an internationally supported public project (Celera Genomics was the private effort that simultaneously sequenced the human genome). When the endeavor was launched in 1990, collaboration among a diverse group of scientists was essential because the sequencing was distributed across a number of international research sites. High-throughput technologies for DNA sequencing were critical to the project’s success, and the participation of biotech companies in the effort was instrumental in driving down the cost, speed, and throughput of generating DNA sequence. The ever-increasing amount of sequence data drove the development of mathematical and computational tools for assembling and annotating the data. Neither the laboratory scientists nor the computational scientists could have done this alone, and the convergence of these disciplines has been one of the most important legacies of the early genome efforts. There was also a commitment to train the next generation of genome scientists, and over the past 20 years, many colleges and universities have established new undergraduate and graduate programs in quantitative and systems biology. Life sciences students today graduate with a very different set of skills than they did in 2000.

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