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In 1925, dogsledders raced through the frozen Alaskan bush to bring antiserum to the isolated village of Nome.  The antiserum arrived in time, saved the lives of many villagers from the horrors of diphtheria, and inspired the Iditarod, a famous race in celebration of the dog sledders’ heroic feat. West Africa could use a similar effort today.…

What’s the first you think about when you see a spider?  Running away?  Danger?  Fairies? Spiderman? Do you wonder if spider silk is really strong enough to stop a train, like they showed in Spiderman 2? Whatever your thoughts, you’re probably not thinking about 3D printing in space.  Yet, the time might be near when…

Living in Seattle fosters a certain pessimism when it comes to large companies.  Boeing has always been a poster child for employment uncertainty, regularly hiring large numbers of people and just as regularly, laying them off.  Now, we have Microsoft and Amgen joining the club, with Microsoft layoffs impacting an estimate 1350 people in the area, and…

Science and its interpretation is wonderful. Today I saw a post on Twitter from @LAbizar, referencing an @GEN, post that stated 8.2% of Human DNA is Functional with a link to a GEN article: “Surprise: Only 8.2% of Human DNA Is Functional.” The GEN writeup cited a PLoS Genetics article, “8.2% of the Human Genome Is Constrained: Variation in Rates of…

A few weeks back, we published a review about the development and role of the human reference genome. A key point of the reference genome is that it is not a single sequence. Instead it is an assembly of consensus sequences that are designed to deal with variation in the human population and uncertainty in…

A key concept in science is molecular scale. DNA is a fascinating molecule in this regard. While we cannot “see” DNA molecules without the aid of advanced technology, a full length DNA molecule can be very long. In human cells, other than sperm and eggs, six billion base pairs of DNA are packaged into 22…

What Happens at the End?

Organisms with linear chromosomes have to solve the problem that DNA replication makes them shorter. This is due to the fact that DNA polymerase can only add bases to the terminal 3′-OH of a DNA chain. The DNA replication initiation complex uses RNA primers to provide the initial 3′-OH and to initiate “lagging” strand synthesis.…

The A, B, Z’s of DNA

Today (4/25) is national DNA day.  Digital World Biology™ is celebrating by sharing some of our favorite structures of DNA. We created these photos with Molecule World™ a new iPad app for viewing molecular structures. As we are taught in school, the double stranded DNA molecule is a right-handed helix as determined by Watson and Crick using…

In our series on why $1000 genomes cost $2000, I raised the issue that the $1000 genome is a value based on simplistic calculations that do not account for the costs of confirming the results. Next, I discussed how errors are a natural occurrence of the many processing steps required to sequence DNA and why…

Could you repeat that please?

Previously, I introduced the idea that the $1000 genome has not been achieved because it is defined in simplistic terms that ignore many aspects of data completeness and verification. In that analysis, I cited a recent perspective by Robasky, Lewis, and Church [1] to present concepts related to the need to verify results and the…