Sunday, March 20, 2011

Letter Re "Gene Machine," Forbes

We were greatly intrigued by the article on the Personal Genome
Machine being developed by Jonathan Rothberg and colleagues. This
advance will revolutionize the way that people think about genome
sequences and was likened to the development of the personal computer.
However a more apt comparison is the camera. Before the mass
production of cameras, imaging was almost nonexistent and was only
carried out by highly trained artists. Now with point-and-shoot
cameras, and even cell phone cameras, anyone anywhere can create an
image. Like the gene machine, the camera is used mostly to create
representations of people. However the advent of wide-scale
photography has allowed lay people to image, catalogue and share
random things that perhaps they would not have focused on if the
technology was not as accessible. One could imagine a similar type of
situation for genomics where people will look beyond the obvious
health applications and begin to use this machine to catalog and
profile the world around them in a recordkeeping framework --creating
and sharing genomic "signatures" of particular environments.

Dov Greenbaum, JD PhD ; Mark Gerstein, PhD

Unpublished letter in response to:
Matthew Herper's "Gene Machine," Forbes, 01.17.11,