game of genomes carl zimmer

Carl Zimmer takes his own DNA in Game of Genomes / STAT

“Watching my genome flow into Gerstein’s computer made me a little giddy.”

So writes Carl Zimmer in the opening ‘episode’ of Game of Genomes, a series of articles written STAT News that take a “narrative journey through the human genome.” Carl is the first journalist the get his hands on his raw genome data, and over the coming weeks he will be sharing what he learned about himself and human genetics.  

“I began writing about DNA sequencing in the 1990s, at a time when sequencing the human genome — any human genome — seemed about as easy as a manned mission to Mars.”

The first five ‘episodes’, each a short article handling a particular topic, cover how Carl’s genome was sequenced (spoiler alert: Illumina); getting his hands on a BAM file; reconstructing sequenced fragments into a readable genome; and finally meeting Yale scientist Mark Gerstein to explore some of the rare disease-linked variants in his genome. 

“It was a struggle for me to think clearly about the 3,559,136 other SNPs in my genome,” Carl explains. “I was tempted to think of them as making me an exquisitely unique genetic snowflake.”

Game of Genomes so far makes for very interesting reading. Carl raises a number of interesting issues – such as the reticence of geneticists to get their own genomes sequenced, and just how difficult it can be to get your hands on the raw data (and why sequencing companies are not keen to do it) – which we hope he will explore in more detail as the series progresses.

Series 2 and 3 are set to launch on July 18 and 25 respectively over on STAT News.

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