This study was funded by the Howard Hughes Medical Institute as part of a larger project at UC Berkeley to design an entry-level biology curriculum that included discovery-based learning. It was performed in part by undergraduates mentored by Mayfield, who feels it is extremely important that university-level science courses begin to teach the next generation techniques they will need to make sense of natural variation in gene sequences and the difference between natural variation and disease.
"Right now, our ability to generate DNA sequences is far ahead of our ability to understand it," he notes. "We're going to see in our personal genome sequences that each of us has variations in disease genes. We must not panic. In this study, even in the extreme case of sequences from patients with a disease, we saw that some variants were coincidental, not causal, while others were treatable. We need to develop a suite of tools like this to help us investigate which alleles are functional and which are not, before we can comprehend the human genome."
|Contact: Janet Lathrop|
University of Massachusetts at Amherst