Genomics

Genomics is a branch of biology focused on the structure, function, evolution, and mapping of genomes, the complete set of DNA in the single cell of an organism. Sequencing a genome means determining the order of its chemical sub-units. Scientists use these sequences to map and catalog human genetic variation to improve our understanding of human biology, disease susceptibility, and drug response. 

As the cost of genetic sequencing has fallen rapidly in recent years, concerns have increased about inaccurate or misunderstood results, violations of genetic privacy, and misuse of genetic databases. Though direct-to-consumer genetic testing has become a highly publicized industry, many experts express considerable skepticism about its usefulness, either for health conditions or ancestry information. Genetic sequencing is also increasingly used in police work, since DNA in even small amounts of blood, saliva, or other biological materials left at a crime scene can identify or exonerate a suspect. However, police DNA databases, which in many jurisdictions include people who have been arrested for but never convicted of a crime, raise concerns about privacy, potential civil liberties violations, and racial discrimination.


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It was a strange moment of triumph against racism: The gun-slinging white supremacist Craig Cobb, dressed up for daytime TV in a dark suit and red tie, hearing that his DNA testing revealed his ancestry to be only “86 percent...

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Forensic science is an embattled field. As DNA testing has overturned hundreds of convictions based on flawed forensic evidence, scientists and lawyers are increasingly skeptical that culprits can be accurately identified by matching fingerprints, hair samples, bite marks, bullets, and tread marks...

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Scientists are trying to manufacture eggs and sperm in the laboratory. Will it end reproduction as we know it?

Let’s...

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Last month, researchers in Oregon broke new scientific ground when they used CRISPR/Cas-9 to genetically modify human embryos, a first...

In a dark background, a human finger touches the glowing screen from a smartphone.

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A laboratory scientist's right arm is shown, using a multi-channel pipette.

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A pile of cotton swabs.

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