Genetic Future

Jonathan Eisen summarises the major themes from the Joint Genome Institute meeting. He has a numbered list of 20 highlights – here’s a few that I thought would be of most interest to Genetic Future readers:

2. Ecological and population genomics are truly the next big thing. 
3. Related to the above point, one of the next revolutions is going to be in high throughput phenotyping — after all, we cannot solve the genotype-phenotype problem when we only know the genotype. 

5. NextGen sequencing has completely outrun the ability of even good bioinformatics people to keep up with the data and to use it well. 
6. Related to the above point, the NextNextGen (e.g., Pacific Biosciences) seems to be barreling along and almost ready for prime time. WTF are we going to do in terms of informatics then? 
7. Following up on the above point- we desperately need a MASSIVE effort in the development of tools for “normal” biologists to make better use of massive sequence databases. 

12. If you study a plant or an animal and are not studying the microbes that live with them, you are missing something. 
13. If you study ANY organism and are ignoring epigenetics you are behind the curve 

18. Organismal biology is still desperately important in all of this work – if you know a lot about the organism as a whole then you already are a systems biologist. 

20. Reading DNA is being used in every which way imaginable. Next up – writing DNA.

Anyone interested in more details from the meeting can check out the notes in the FriendFeed room.


  1. #1 Coturnix
    April 19, 2009

    Where exactly is that list? What are the points #4, 8-11, 15-17 and 19?

  2. #2 Daniel MacArthur
    April 19, 2009

    Hey Bora,

    Oops – I submitted a draft version of the post instead of the final version; I’ve fixed it up now with a link to Jonathan’s post and a clarification of what the list actually represents. Thanks for pointing out the confusion!

  3. #3 Coturnix
    April 19, 2009


  4. #4 che
    April 24, 2009


    Interesting article. However, the following statement is very simplisitic:

    “Organismal biology is still desperately important in all of this work – if you know a lot about the organism as a whole then you already are a systems biologist.”

    I am a systems biologist in training and understanding the organising principles of biological/biochemical systems is far from trivial. Certainly, most of the genetists that I work with have no clue about systems theory (e.g control analysis, response coefficients, elasticities) or practice (network modelling, rate characteristic analysis, preturations).

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