In 1991, the Human Genome was first sequenced at a cost of $10 for every base pair in the entire genome. This amounted to a $32 billion dollar effort for the first human genome (3.2 billion base pairs).
By 2001, the cost to sequence the genome had fell to 10 cents per base pair. By 2011, the cost was one cent per base pair and by the end of 2012 it will be 3,000 base pairs for one cent.
This means we are quickly approaching the day when we all will have our own genome, which every day medical decisions might be made in orchestrating our health care. But now a brand new discovery finds that each of us have at least 10 times as many microbial cells in our bodies as we do human cells. These communities of microbes are resident in our digestive tract, in our immune system, in our respiratory system. We do not even know what all of these communities of microbes are much less what they do. So, a new project has been launched to find what these microbe communities are and they way this is done is by sequencing their genomes.
The sequence of just one microbe (and we have billions of them) is six million characters. The amount of data that must be created and organized is overwhelming.
The next step is finding the correlations to which genetic sequences align with what diseases and pathogens and environmental factors. This is an enormous task which will require huge numbers of scientists who are trained in bioscience and in computational screening algorithms, both operationally and from a development standpoint.
This new field will ultimately solve most unanswered health care questions, since it will take personal medicine to the ultimate level. This new field is called “BioInformatics.” On top of the unimaginable benefits that will come from this new discipline, a new discovery is that DNA sequences can be organized to emulate digital computing On/Off switches thus creating a new branch of bioinformatics using DNA computing. This means we could have biological computing embedded in cells doing real-time screening within the anatomy, most likely programmed to take corrective actions when genetic sequences wander out of bounds such as runaway malignancy.
The field here adds enormous complexity coupled with monstrously huge human benefits that careers will be unlimited bound only by the amount of knowledge and creativity we can release to harness the dividends of these technologies. We are emphasizing this new field with our students who participate in this exercise in collaborative field research using leaf cutter ants as our subject matter.
A Minnesota 501c3 non-profit corporation with a mission of enhancing bioscience education for high school students and creating more science-related careers.
Exposing High School science students to tropical rainforest research in partnership with:
- The Currie Lab - University of Wisconsin
- Biochemistry Dept.: School of Medicine at University of Costa Rica
- Your Community Rotary
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of SECONDARY SCIENCE EDUCATION
CHANGING the LANDSCAPE