A Life Decoded: My Genome: My Life

A Life Decoded: My Genome: My Life

J. Craig Venter

Language: English

Pages: 416

ISBN: 0143114182

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub

The triumphant memoir of the man behind one of the greatest feats in scientific history

Of all the scientific achievements of the past century, perhaps none can match the deciphering of the human genetic code, both for its technical brilliance and for its implications for our future. In A Life Decoded, J. Craig Venter traces his rise from an uninspired student to one of the most fascinating and controversial figures in science today. Here, Venter relates the unparalleled drama of the quest to decode the human genome?a goal he predicted he could achieve years earlier and more cheaply than the government-sponsored Human Genome Project, and one that he fulfilled in 2001. A thrilling story of detection, A Life Decoded is also a revealing, and often troubling, look at how science is practiced today.

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aggressive patent policy was the incredible resentment it stirred up among the scientific community. The Haemophilus genome paper was published on July 28, 1995, in Sci-ence5 and included forty authors, with Ham and me as senior authors. It was featured on the cover and in a centerfold, which carried a detailed gene map, marked with colored bars on the organism’s circular DNA: Green corresponded to genes involved in energy metabolism, yellow for copying and repairing DNA, and so on. Almost half

Francisco and hung out in the Haight-Ashbury district, where I worked at the free medical clinic for a week. The streets around the intersection of Haight and Ashbury were at the heart of the hippie movement, where life was just one big hazy marijuana party and where antiwar sentiment and flower power were at their peak. Everyone I met told me to go to Canada to avoid being sent to Vietnam, but I felt somehow that it was wrong. Perhaps it was because I did not want to throw away my one chance of

all mentioned something called stock options; what were they, and was he going to get any? Yes, I replied, although I had not yet determined what the amount would be. When he eventually arrived, Gene quickly began to appreciate the sheer scale of the problem. In essence, to ensure coverage of the entire 3 billion–letter-long human genome, the software would have to be capable of handling 30 million fragments. This was going to be the mother—and father—of all jigsaw puzzles, and we soon assembled

from 4 billion years of evolution is far more awesome to me than the notion that a cosmic clockmaker snapped his fingers to put me together. By the time these heretical thoughts had passed, the president had returned to reality by reminding us what the effort was really about—not revealing the mind of God but the genetic roots of diseases such as Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, diabetes, and cancer. And then came the inevitable mention of the many battles I had fought over the years. The president

project was met with skepticism. Many people were certain that shotgun sequencing seawater would not work, because we were sequencing a soup of vast numbers of different species. To return to the jigsaw puzzle analogy, this would be like taking thousands of different jigsaw puzzles, mixing up all the pieces, and then trying to solve all the individual puzzles simultaneously. However, I already knew from some of the earliest genome sequencing experiments at TIGR that our computational tools could

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