Sunday, April 21, 2013

Venter's Deep Linkage: Microbiome, Synbio, Genomics, and Computing

As usual, Craig Venter’s remarks on April 16, 2013 at UC Berkeley did not disappoint - they were inspirational, informative, and demonstrative of progress. Of note is the multidisciplinarity amongst different branches of his labs’ work, for example using synthetic DNA to perform genomic error correction in stem cell operations, genome transplantation between yeast and bacterial species, and linking microbiome activities to pathology and synthetic biology/biofuel synthesis. Some key points were:
  • Microbiome – YASP (yet another sequencing problem) – While the human genome is currently thought to contain about 42,000 genes, the microbiome has 10 million genes across diverse phyla, taxa, and species 
  • Biofuel – to obtain engineered algae with the desired phenotype that would be a viable alternative to oil, 300 parameters must be engineered 
  • Gene function – even in the minimal genome for Mycoplasma genitalium, there are 50 genes whose function is unknown 
  • New gene discovery – so far in general scientific discovery, 80 million genes have been found, 95% from ocean water sampling; again in these ‘design components for the future,’ function is unknown 
  • ‘Digital phenotype’ is needed for health advance and big health data stream integration – an extended EMR with standardized transmittable digital data for all manner of phenotypic data, both phenotype 1.0 (e.g.; health history, prescriptions, lab results, etc.) and phenotype 2.0 (e.g.; digital omics profiles like proteomics and metabolomics).

blog comments powered by Disqus