Best genomics news article title …6 Billion Bits of Data About Me, Me, Me!

Gotta love the title of this article. It captures the essence of the new race to sequence ones own genome pretty well (with Jim Watson and Craig Venter leading the way). Clearly, this type of personal genomic medicine is coming whether we like it or not but, for those interested in getting ones own genome sequenced, here are some things to consider:

1. There will be many mistakes, at least with current methods. Get ready for lots of false positives and negatives relating to risk.

2. People will use it against you. Companies. Friends. Relatives. The government. This is not to discourage people from doing it (well, maybe a little bit). But given our current inability to keep anything important private in this country and our apparent inability to not snoop into people’s lives, this is going to be one overwhelming temptation for many people. Now is clearly the time to move forward with anti-discrimination laws.

3. Having your genome sequence will not automatically improve your health. It could even make it worse (e.g., see false positives above)

4. If you REALLY want to understand some of your biology from your genome, you are going to want to take a peak at the genomes of relatives. Good luck on all the family issues that will come up.

5. Just because Watson and Venter are releasing their genomes to the public does not mean you have to (for medicine it is VERY useful to have a genome associated with an individual … even many individuals, but there is no real need for names to be there)

6. The methods being used may not recover the haplotypes well (e.g., see Keith Robison’s blog).

ALSO check out some other articles on this topic

Author: Jonathan Eisen

I am an evolutionary biologist and a Professor at U. C. Davis. (see my lab site here). My research focuses on the origin of novelty (how new processes and functions originate). To study this I focus on sequencing and analyzing genomes of organisms, especially microbes and using phylogenomic analysis

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