skip navigation nih record
Vol. LXIII, No. 5
March 4, 2011
cover

previous story

next story



Scientists Shed Light on Future of Genomics

On the front page...

Prominent investigators in genomic research shared their visions of the field’s future with a crowd at Natcher Conference Center on Feb. 11. The meeting, hosted by the National Human Genome Research Institute, marked the release of its new strategic vision for genomics, which was published Feb. 10 in Nature.

Joining NHGRI director Dr. Eric Green for the day-long symposium “A Decade With the Human Genome Sequence: Charting a Course for Genomic Medicine,” were NIH director Dr. Francis Collins; Dr. James Watson, Nobel laureate, founding director of what became NHGRI and co-discoverer of the molecular structure of DNA; Dr. Eric Lander, director of the Broad Institute; and Dr. Maynard Olson, professor emeritus of genome sciences and medicine at the University of Washington.

Continued...

  Dr. Sean Eddy of HHMI Janelia Farm explains how researchers read the code of the human genome.  
  Dr. Sean Eddy of HHMI Janelia Farm explains how researchers read the code of the human genome.  

Joining NHGRI director Dr. Eric Green for the day-long symposium “A Decade With the Human Genome Sequence: Charting a Course for Genomic Medicine,” were NIH director Dr. Francis Collins; Dr. James Watson, Nobel laureate, founding director of what became NHGRI and co-discoverer of the molecular structure of DNA; Dr. Eric Lander, director of the Broad Institute; and Dr. Maynard Olson, professor emeritus of genome sciences and medicine at the University of Washington.

“We’re celebrating the day by marveling at the past and anticipating the future,” said Green. “Science changed when we generated that first sequence of the human genome and what a remarkable decade it has been since.” He noted that the strategic plan was released on the 10th anniversary of the initial sequence and analysis of the draft human genome in Nature magazine.

During a panel discussion, Dr. James Watson (l), co-discoverer of the structure of DNA, says having his genome sequenced provided key information on how he metabolized a blood pressure medication
NHGRI director Dr. Eric Green provides an overview of a new strategic plan, “Charting a course for genomic medicine from base pairs to bedside.”

Top, l:
During a panel discussion, Dr. James Watson (l), co-discoverer of the structure of DNA, says having his genome sequenced provided key information on how he metabolized a blood pressure medication

Top, r:
NHGRI director Dr. Eric Green provides an overview of a new strategic plan, “Charting a course for genomic medicine from base pairs to bedside.”

Below, l:
Dr. Eric Lander, director of the Broad Institute, talks about the first analysis of the human genome sequence.

Below, r:
Dr. Maynard Olson, professor emeritus of genome sciences and medicine at the University of Washington, speaks on the potential for moving genomic research into the real world
.

Collins noted that, in the 10 years since release of the sequence, researchers have discovered the molecular basis of 4,000 disorders and 1,000 genetic variations that make a small contribution to common complex diseases and point towards potential therapeutic targets.

Collins, who led the Human Genome Project from 1993 until its completion in 2003, spoke about the importance of building “the bridge between basic discoveries and new therapeutics.” One way to do this, he said, is through NIH’s proposed National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences. The center would focus on accelerating the development and delivery of new, more effective therapeutics and serve as a resource for the entire translational science community as it moves promising products through the development pipeline.

Olson also commented on the need to integrate information that can now be readily gathered into the practice of medicine.

“The potential is finally here to move genomics out into the real world,” he said. “I guarantee if you start getting molecular data into health records and not just into some artificial study…there will be a tremendous dialogue between the clinical community, patients and society at large.”

Dr. Maynard Olson, professor emeritus of genome sciences and medicine at the University of Washington, speaks on the potential for moving genomic research into the real world. Dr. Eric Lander, director of the Broad Institute, talks about the first analysis of the human genome sequence.

Research on the ethical, legal and social implications of genomic research and medicine will be crucial to this dialogue and to genomics’ acceptance into mainstream medical care, said Dr. Amy McGuire, associate professor of medicine and medical ethics and associate director of research at the Center for Medical Ethics and Health Policy at Baylor College of Medicine. She noted that she had worked on ethical, legal and social issues that arose in 2007 when Watson’s personal genome was sequenced and analyzed at Baylor.

NIH director Dr. Francis Collins talks about his lab’s discovery of the gene that causes progeria.

Watson said that having his genome sequenced provided him key information on how he metabolized certain drugs like beta-blockers, a blood pressure medication. Doctors advised him to take one pill per week rather than one daily.
Above, alongside NGHRI’s Dr. Mark Guyer (l), Dr. Bradley Bernstein of Harvard Medical School discusses how the epigenome, chemical compounds that modify or mark the human genome, regulate human genes. Below, NIH director Dr. Francis Collins talks about his lab’s discovery of the gene that causes progeria.
Above: Alongside NGHRI’s Dr. Mark Guyer (l), Dr. Bradley Bernstein of Harvard Medical School discusses how the epigenome, chemical compounds that modify or mark the human genome, regulate human genes. At right: NIH director Dr. Francis Collins talks about his lab’s discovery of the gene that causes progeria.

“That was an extremely useful fact, which I wouldn’t have known without having my genome sequenced,” he said. He declined the offer to know his genetic risk for Alzheimer’s disease, which afflicted his grandmother.

“A tremendous amount about medicine has been cracked open, but it’s just barely a start. Most of what we need to know about the genome still lies before us,” said Lander. He is well known for advocating large DNA sequencing projects such as the Cancer Genome Atlas, a comprehensive effort to understand the genomic basis of cancer. Referring to the recently completed 1,000 genomes project, he recommended a “1 million genomes project” to provide a truly comprehensive resource on human genetic variation.

Videos of each talk are available at http://bit.ly/hSdSFC.NIHRecord Icon


Gallery

back to top of page