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Computing Genetics

Searching for Genetic Treasures

Imagine finding a treasure chest that contains all of the precious gems and metals ever mined, but you can only lift the lid far enough to see the glint of gold and the sparkle of diamonds. That's how some biologists felt not too long ago. Advances in computer technology have opened the genetic treasure chest all the way, revealing the human genome and answering questions about diseases, drug treatments and even crimes.

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Drake. Credit: Stephanie DziezykDrakes: A Mythological Model Organism | 6/27/11
Web-based games involving fantastical creatures are teaching high school students about genetics.

Stanford scientists Atul Butte, Chirag Patel and Jayanta Bhattacharya examined these environmental factors and more than 200 others for their role in causing type 2 diabetes.Scanning the Environment for Disease Risks | 7/15/10
A new "enviromics" technique sheds light on the development of type 2 diabetes and possibly other complex diseases.

The cascading columns show places where two sea urchin species share genetic coding. Credit: Ryan Tarpine, Brown UniversityZooming in on Gene Regulation | 4/8/10
New bioinformatics tools help scientists identify genetic similarities and differences between species.

The three billion letters of DNA in the human genome are more than 98 percent identical to those of a chimpanzee.Comparing Genomes to Find What Makes Us Human | 5/21/09
Scientists have developed a computer program to identify DNA sequences that differ between chimps and us.

Each point in these colorful patchworks represents the correlation between two sleep-associated genes. The red regions represent gene pairs that are positively correlated, while the blue areas show gene pairs that are negatively correlated. Credit: Susan Harbison and Trudy Mackay Gene Teams Help Govern Sleep Patterns | 3/18/09
Scientists use gene chip data to examine differences in the sleep patterns of fruit flies.

In 2007, the FDA modified warfarin's label to indicate that genetic makeup may affect patient response to the drug. Credit: Alisa Machalek Math Gives Blood | 2/25/09
A new mathematical tool could help doctors use genetics to accurately predict the ideal dose of a commonly prescribed blood thinner.

Sarah TishkoffGeneticist Sarah Tishkoff on Human Genetic Diversity (MOV) | 7/23/08
Listen to Sarah Tishkoff talk about the role of computers in understanding the evolution of human genes.

Phylogeny showing evolutionary relationships of major vertebrate groups based on similarities in a protein.
Credit: Chris Organ.Computing Evolutionary Trees Using Ancient Molecules | 5/28/08
Molecular biologists have used sophisticated computational tools to confirm that dinosaurs are more closely related to modern birds than to reptiles.

Sunflower plant in the desertWorking Hand in Glove with Computational Biology | 10/2/07
Studying sunflower genetics could tell us how new species arise, how we can better control weeds and whether we should worry about genetically modified organisms.

From the Print Issue

»  Side Effects: Genes and Medicines
»  Answers from Africa
»  Word Games
»  Mutiny Against Antibiotics
»  CSD: Crime Scene DNA

This page last reviewed on June 27, 2011