I’ve just written the final section of the tenth edition of my human genetics textbook. The end is about Stephen Quake, the Stanford bioengineer whose genomic highlights were laid bare in the May 1, 2010 issue of The Lancet (“Clinical assessment incorporating a personal genome"; http://www.thelancet.com).
When I wrote the first edition 20 years ago, sequencing a single gene took years. I couldn’t imagine a day when genomes could be sequenced in days and when anyone could order dozens of DNA tests just by tapping on a keyboard, learning results without the filter of a medical professional.
Dr. Quake, a pretty healthy sort, had his genome sequenced because a cousin died at age 19 from heart disease (and he’s co-inventor of the sequencer). His results confirmed what he knew from a good old-fashioned pedigree, but also told him that a statin would work well and without side effects, yet the clot-preventer Plavix not so good. The rest? Maybe it’ll help him some day.