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Results of the Human Genome Project; sequencing and mapping


Genetics, mental illness and DNA chips
James Watson Scientist
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During that time, after the genome project started, we began to have some meetings on genetics and mental illness at Cold Spring Harbor. But certainly looking back at the programs, it was pretty much waffle. You know, there was a meeting where the chief families in our group of Irish families, which were, the genetics was being done by Ken Kendler at the University of Virginia. And you know, they got some evidence of linkage in chromosome 6 and now it's thought to be a protein [unclear]. But it was always marginal. And so that you probably really couldn't do anything until you got the human genome, which was completed in 2003. And before it was completed, there was a - the idea of putting tiny DNA fragments on chips and you would have an ordered array in which to put the whole genome, or represent - it had representation of the whole genome and, say, first it was maybe 50,000 spots, 50,000 representations, and now it's at, you know, a million or two representations. So you were sampling maybe one-twentieth of the DNA of the human genome at a high point. So the development of the DNA chips, which really came out of the Silicone Valley and where the whole chip industry had developed in the United States, you know, I first heard of it not being really - someone who thinks high-tech. You know, I didn't get excited until I saw real results. But - so we got the chip technology and then the cost of DNA sequencing.

American molecular biologist James Dewey Watson is probably best known for discovering the structure of DNA for which he was jointly awarded the 1962 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine along with Francis Crick and Maurice Wilkins. His long career has seen him teaching at Harvard and Caltech, and taking over the directorship of Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory in New York. From 1988 to 1992, James Watson was head of the Human Genome Project at the National Institutes of Health. His current research focuses on the study of cancer.

Listeners: Martin Raff Walter Gratzer

Martin Raff is a Canadian-born neurologist and research biologist who has made important contributions to immunology and cell development. He has a special interest in apoptosis, the phenomenon of cell death.



Listen to Martin Raff at Web of Stories



Walter Gratzer is Emeritus Professor of Biophysical Chemistry at King's College London, and was for most of his research career a member of the scientific staff of the Medical Research Council. He is the author of several books on popular science. He was a Postdoctoral Fellow at Harvard and has known Jim Watson since that time

Duration: 2 minutes, 33 seconds

Date story recorded: November 2008 and October 2009

Date story went live: 18 June 2010