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About Todd Smith: I co-founded Geospiza, Inc. and served in several executive roles until its acquisition by PerkinElmer (PKI) in 2011, where I continued to develop genomics strategies and products until 2013.

I have broad technical and market knowledge with depth in the areas of bioinformatics, genomics, systems biology, and software systems with a clinical and diagnostic focus. Presently, I provide business and technical consulting services through Digital World Biology to help organizations develop genetic analysis strategies and technical implementation plans.

Prior to Geospiza, I was postdoctoral scientist in Dr. Leroy Hood’s laboratory and sequenced the BRCA1 gene with Mary-Claire King. My peer reviewed and invited publications are in human genetics, microbiology, chemistry, computer science and education. I hold a Ph.D. in Medicinal Chemistry from University of Washington and B.S. degrees Genetics and Biochemistry from University of Minnesota.

Scale, proportion, and quantity belong to one of the cross cutting concepts in the next generation science standards (NGSS).  According to Volume 2 of the NGSS, “in engineering, no structure could be conceived much less constructed without the engineer’s precise sense of scale.”  The authors go on to note that scale and proportion are best understood using…

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…

$1000 Genomes for $2000

Getting an accurate genome sequence requires that you collect the data at least twice argue Robasky, Lewis, and Church in their recent opinion piece in Nat. Rev. Genetics [1]. The DNA sequencing world kicked off 2014 with an audacious start. Andrew Pollack ran an article in the New York Times implying that 100,000 genomes will…