November 22, 2011
Janine Holley : The opening plenary session of the International Congress of Human Genetics, held in Montreal last October, featured a dazzling display by Cirque Eloize followed by a 90-minute panel discussion on the subject of Whole Genome Sequencing: To do it or not to do it?
The guest of honor was James D. Watson, chancellor emeritus of Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory, who co-discovered the double helix structure of DNA with Francis Crick in 1953. Watson had his own genome sequenced by 454 Life Sciences in 2007, thus becoming the first person to have his or her genome decoded using a next-generation sequencing platform.
The other three guests on the panel – all personal genome pioneers - were:
• Marjolein Kriek, a clinical geneticist from the University of Leiden in The Netherlands, who was the first woman to be sequenced (in 2008).
• James Lupski, medical geneticist at Baylor College of Medicine, whose sequenced his genome in an effort to determine the genetic basis of a peripheral neuropathy. The results of that work were published in the New England Journal of Medicine in 2010.
• Seong-Jin Kim (CHA University, Korea), the first Korean individual to be sequenced, work published in Genome Research in 2009.
The discussion was introduced and moderated by Kevin Davies, editor-in-chief of Bio-IT World and author of the book, The $1,000 Genome. Watson was his usual opinionated self, and discussed the pros (not so many, it turns out) and cons of personal genome sequencing. In addition to his own family’s story, Lupski also played a key role in interpreting Watson’s genome data and delivering the results. Kriek talked about how her genome (as yet still unpublished) made her something of a minor celebrity in The Netherlands. And Kim talked about his brush with media fame, including one of the best lines of the evening – how his personal genome sequence justified a new flat-screen LED television!
Below is the video from the presentation at the International Congress of Human Genetics/61st American Society of Human Genetic Annual Meeting, October 11 (Montreal, Canada)...