Genetic testing will soon be as critical as testing your cholesterol.

Our genome is three billion letters long, filled with letters like (ATCG). Let’s say that there are 2000 letters on a page, one person’s genome will be 2000 million pages long. Genome is almost a user manual of us – how we walk, talk, have disease or why we are checking social media every 3 seconds. One of the scientists recently found out that he’d be sneezing after eating dark chocolate- thank god that’s not me. 

In 2003, the human genome project was completed. It was an international scientific research project with the goal of determining the base pairs that make up human DNA.   An accurate and complete human genome sequence was finished two years ahead of schedule  at a cost less than the original estimated budget. It cost 3 billion dollars and took 13 years to finish one human genome sequence.

American molecular biologist James Watson had his gene sequenced in 2008. It took 4 months and cost $1.5 million to sequence 6 billion base pairs of DNA. He put his gene online so he can enable a generation of scientists to take advantage of that data.

One year later, Steve Jobs spent $100,000 and had his gene sequenced to help fight cancer.

Singer Ozzy Osbourne in 2010 paid $40,000 to sequence his genome. Not so much to find out what could kill him, but why he hadn’t already died from past heavy drug use and addictions. 

In 2015, the cost to sequence a genome dropped to $1k.

From $3 billion dollars to $1,000, from 13 years to 1 day, the genomics space is transformed with the power of technology, readily available computer resources, and the community’s trust in genomics advancement 

Genetic testing, Gene

While using techniques like CRISPR to edit genes for pure-breed pets, allergy-free foods, and decaf coffee beans seem to be advancing our quality of living, where do we draw the line when we are editing genes? Would you want a designer baby or live among designer babies? 

Distinguished Toastmaster Solarzar Dellaporta interviewed me in this 20 minute podcast, where we went over the following interesting topics: 

  1. What is genomics? Why is it important? 
  2. What is CRISPR? What are some of the current CRISPR applications? What are some of the new innovations this year?
  3. What are the ethical implications of designer babies? 
  4. What do you take away from as the average person who cares about this research? 
  5. What does this all mean for future generations? 


Here are some useful links for your future learnings: 

I look forward to seeing you at our next meeting on Jan 6th from 7-8:15pm PST. 

Happy Holidays! 

Written by Renee Yao, President of Women L.E.A.D. Toastmasters

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