Nature Genetics began publishing in April 1992 in recognition of the boom occurring in genetic research. The next decade saw an unprecedented acceleration of discovery in the biological sciences. And now, just 50 years since the determination of the structure of DNA, we stand on the precipice of the genomic age.
To look back upon the last decade of research Nature Genetics is delighted to present "A Ten-Year Retrospective (1992-2002)." This special supplement reviews the scientific advances of the last ten years - and provides some insight into what lies ahead.
This special issue provides comprehensive reviews of the past ten years of research. Articles of particular interest include:
* A review of the field of genomics by Craig Venter and colleagues that discusses the technical advances that made sequencing the human genome possible. This article takes us on an historical journey through the initial sequencing of genomes and the initial humble expectations that were rapidly surpassed through new high throughput techniques and the rapid increase in computing power.
* A review of the field of medical genetics by Stanford geneticists David Botstein and Neil Risch. A paper by David Botstein in 1980 suggested the use of variation in DNA to map genes underlying genetic disorders. This approach was used extensively to find many of the genes for genetic disorders in the past 20 years, including the genes for cystic fibrosis and Huntington disease. Botstein and Risch discuss the successes of medical genetics and ways of applying this approach to identify genes for complex disorders such as asthma and diabetes.
* Rudolf Jaenisch (MIT) and Adrian Bird (U. of Edinburgh) review the field of epigenetics over the last ten years. This is an expanding field that examines the modifications and regulation of the DNA template. Increasingly, changes such as the methylation of DNA have been shown to be important factors in cancer, development of organisms and recently the viability of cloned animals. Jaenisch and Bird discuss how recent reports suggest that these mechanisms might also play an important role in how the genome responds to external factors such as diet and temperature.
* Ken Wolfe (University of Dublin) and Wen-Hsiung Li (U. of Chicago) discuss the field of molecular evolution - the study of Darwinian evolution at the molecular level. They discuss how the increase in genomic data allowed the rapid development of the field and advances in understanding of the evolutionary history of organisms.
* Rudolf Aebersold (Inst. Systems Biology, Seattle) and Scott Patterson (Pharmal Biosciences, formerly of Celera Genomics) review the field of proteomics. This field entails the application of global biology approaches, such as those used in genomics, to proteins - the working molecules in the cell. The aim of proteomics is to characterize and understand all the protein molecules in the cell - a task many times more difficult than sequencing the human genome. This field is recognized as the future of biology as proteins are important for everything from gene regulation to drug targets.
This special issue, which is available for free online, also includes reviews of cancer genetics, population genetics, model organisms, developmental biology, plant genetics and bioinformatics.
The issue is available at http://www.nature.com/naturegenetics.
(C) Nature Genetics press release.
Message posted by: Trevor M. D'Souza
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