Developing programs that look at DNA sequence, Ewan Birney
Interviewee: Ewan Birney.
Developing programs that look at DNA sequence.
I was looking at sort of theoretical ways or practical ways of dealing with the information in DNA sequence, so I was trying to develop programs that looked at DNA sequence. We didn't have as much DNA as we have now, but we still had enough to sort of get our teeth into. So we were looking at how to build algorithms up, that let us understand DNA sequence. And of course when the Human Genome Project came along, that was an important part of actually understanding this massive, massive data set and making it useful for everybody else to use.
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For the first draft of the genome sequence, both teams were working to identify the number of human genes. Here, Ewan Birney, a "numbers man" from the public genome project, explains how genes can be recognized and the data from the genome project used.
Techniques to read the sequence of DNA, letter by letter, have been available since the 1970s. However, the massive task of sequencing the three billion basepairs of the human genome required machines that could read and interpret the data.