Thursday, March 06, 2008

Designer genes

In high school I interned at the Lawrence Berkeley National Labs on their Human Genome project. The project, along with others like it, aimed to sequence the human genome. It was estimated to take over ten years and it ended up taking about that long.

One project I worked on was: Adaptation of Commercial Robot for Genome Library Replication. What a cool job for a geeky teenager. I mean programming a robot to assist in one of the most important scientific initiatives of our time, how cool is that!?

Anyway, now that the human genome has been sequenced it is beginning to enable what some people are calling Personalized Medicine. Imagine if drugs were tailored to match your own genetic profile? That's what Personalized Medicine is all about and it wouldn't have been possible without the incredible work I did in my spare time as a high school student...just kidding.

Seriously though, I was thrilled the other day when I bought my first product based on the the human genome project. It's a gene analysis kit for detecting your genetic susceptibility to heart disease. You scrape the inside of your cheek 20 times with a swab and sent it away to the company for their analysis. Then they send you a report. I guess it seems cool and I'm thrilled to buy a product based on this emerging science but do I really want to know? Either it's going to tell me I'm susceptible and I'm going to feel even more obligated to live a healthy lifestyle. Or it's going to say I'm not susceptible and I'm going to slack off and end up getting sick from an unhealthy lifestyle.

Oh well, when it comes to innovative products I have a hard time saying no. So here goes...scrape, scrape, scrape, scrape...

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