It's only fitting that his genome was first.

01 June 2007

The genome of Dr. James Watson, who figured out the structure of DNA with Francis Crick, was the first genome to be completely sequenced from start to finish (the results of the Human Genome Project are actually composited from a number of anonymous humans - thank you, HIPAA), which means that each pair of nucleotides in his genetic structure was determined, mapped to a gene, and placed in its proper place in the DNA strand. You can think of it as reverse engineering human DNA because they figured out what everything in there is supposed to do... a copy of his genome contained on a pair of data DVDs will be presented to him in a ceremony today by Richard Gibbs of the Human Genome Sequencing Center and Jonathan Rothberg of 454 Life Sciences.

Dr. Watson announced that he would be making the transcription of his genome freely available for study by geneticists, with the exception of the gene that codes for the apolipoprotein E protein (which is a telltale marker of suceptibility to Alzheimer's Disease - Dr. Watson would prefer not to know ahead of time). The process was performed using a new DNA sequencer developed by 454 Life Sciences which does not involve replicating the sampled DNA in bacteria, it works directly upon the sample. It took about two calendar months to finish, and cost less than $1mus.