Michael Schatz: So in autism, I collaborate with some folks at Cold Spring Harbor Lab where we’re participating in a project that’s been sponsored by the Simons Foundation.  And the idea there is over the last several decades different hospitals around the U.S. have been identifying families where one kid will have autism, their sibling does not, and have been collecting from those people blood samples of the autistic child, their sibling, and also their parents.

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So one of my other major interests is this computational problem called genome assembly.  So the genome again is this large molecule, but the way we can sequence it are through these little tiny fragments.  So the analogy is something like take the dictionary, or take some very big book—actually, take many copies of that same book, shred it up into little tiny fragments like fortune cookie size fragments.  And then the computational problem is given this large collection of shorter fragments of DNA sequences, how can we reconstruct them, how can we put them together into forming the whole genome.  This is this problem called genome assembly.

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Surprising Science

Researcher Michael Schatz explains the challenges and opportunities of storing genetic data in the cloud.