Dr. Ed Ishiguro on genomics


Are you aware that you share 98% of your genes with a chimp, 44% with a fruit fly and 18% with a plant?  Our April speaker, Dr.Ed Ishiguro, back by popular demand,  shared with us some of his fascinating research, his subject this time being the decoding of the human genome project and the way in which genomics is contributing to our understanding of the genetic basis of human disease using cancer as an illustrative example. He talked about the prospect of applying genome information for administering personalized medical diagnoses and treatment.

Included in his presentation were some facts on:

  • The complexity of the human genome (25,000 letters per page; 1,500 pages per volume; total of 80 volumes)
  • How much cheaper, faster and more accurate the sequencing is through improved technology.
  • – The organization and function of our genetic blueprint.  Upon seeing the human genome sequence for the first time, one geneticist remarked that it “looked like a sparse collection of genes separated by vast regions of genomic desert.”
  • – Why complex diseases like diabetes, high blood pressure, and psychiatric disorder are so difficult to predict and treat.
  • Why does  one individual get cancer or depression, while an identical twin remains perfectly healthy? 

Now scientists have discovered a vital clue to unraveling these riddles: The human genome is packed with at least four million gene switches that reside in bits of DNA that play critical roles in controlling how cells, organs and other tissues behave.

In the near future, when you go in for an annual check-up, your physical may begin with a routine sequencing of your genome.


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