We are about to enter an era of DNA technology where one can determine the genome sequence of any living animal or plant with near perfect fidelity for €1,000 or less. Already there are nascent projects such as the Vertebrate Genome Project (VGP) whose goal is to sequence every one of the more than 70,000 species of vertebrates currently extant on our planet. As such, this ability will revolutionize ecology, evolution, and conservation science and effectively mark the beginning of a new exploration of the natural world.
The lecture started with a brief review of the history of DNA sequencing technology and the computational problems involved in interpreting the data so produced. This history begins with Fred Sanger’s sequencing of the virus “lambda” in 1980, continues to the sequencing of the Human genome in 2000, and culminates in the present with an introduction to the transformative technologies alluded to above. However, the primary hurdle in this future vision is actually computational and the issues and potential approaches to addressing them were discussed. Professor Myers presented several recent findings enabled by having the genome sequences of related species and concluded with a prospectus of what could be discovered in the future.
The Royal Society Milner Award and Lecture is awarded annually for outstanding achievement in computer science by a European researcher or researcher who has had European residency for 12 months or more.
Professor Eugene Myers was awarded the 2019 Royal Society Milner Award and Lecture for his development of computational techniques that have brought genome sequencing into everyday use, underpinned key biological sequencing tools, and made large scale analysis of biological images practical.
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