Cancer is fundamentally a disease of the genome. What has happened in the past ten years since the end of the Human Genome Project is the recognition that we can read out the genome, and read the sequence of a tumor’s DNA and gain insights from that tumor.
Now we’re starting to see how genome research is fulfilling the promise of why we pursued the Human Genome Project in the first place.
In the 1980s when the Human Genome Project was being conceived, one of the reasons why we were able to get support for it from the U.S. Congress while other countries were able to get support for it from their funding agencies was the recognition that having foundational information about our blueprint would give us the kinds of insights and eventually the kinds of information and technologies that would allow us to better understand the role of DNA or the role of our genome in human health and disease.
As genomics becomes relevant to medical care, regulatory agencies like the FDA are going to be watching this and making sure it’s being done properly.
Genomics is finding its way into the news increasingly and part of the reason for that, of course, is because genomics is becoming very relevant for medical care. For example, the Food and Drug Administration - which oversees many of the things that come into clinical care - has gotten involved in a couple of ways.
Eric Green: I predict, starting over the next few years, women will opt to just simply give a little bit of blood which they’re giving anyway as part of their clinical care.
Among the many exciting new developments in genomics as it’s being applied to clinical medicine to really look out for over the next couple of years is using these powerful new methods for sequencing DNA which are exquisitely sensitive to be able to study unborn babies, fetuses.
Dr. Green is the director of the National Human Genome Research Institute, one of the 27 institutes and centers that make up the U.S. National Institutes of Health, the federal agency that funds and conducts medical research. The NIH Intramural Sequencing Center is a lab that Dr. Green founded and which is part of the National Human Genome Research Institute.
Prior to this appointment, he was the Scientific Director of NHGRI, a position he held since 2002. In addition, Green serves as chief of the NHGRI Genome Technology Branch (since 1996) and director of the NIH Intramural Sequencing Center (NISC) (since 1997).