A Beautiful Life: High Risk–High Payoff in Genetic Science
Annual Review of Animal Biosciences
Genomics, Conservation, AIDS, Autobiography, Evolution
This narrative is a personal view of adventures in genetic science and society that have blessed my life and career across five decades. The advances I enjoyed and the lessons I learned derive from educational training, substantial collaboration, and growing up in the genomics age. I parse the stories into six research disciplines my students, fellows, and colleagues have entered and, in some cases, made an important difference. The first is comparative genetics, where evolutionary inference is applied to genome organization, from building gene maps in the 1970s to building whole genome sequences today. The second area tracks the progression of molecular evolutionary advances and applications to resolve the hierarchical relationship among living species in the silence of prehistory. The third endeavor outlines the birth and maturation of genetic studies and application to species conservation. The fourth theme discusses how emerging viruses studied in a genomic sense opened our eyes to host–pathogen interaction and interdependence. The fifth research emphasis outlines the population genetic–based search and discovery of human restriction genes that influence the epidemiological outcome of abrupt outbreaks, notably HIV–AIDS and several cancers. Finally, the last arena explored illustrates how genetic individualization in human and animals has improved forensic evidence in capital crimes. Each discipline has intuitive and technological overlaps, and each has benefitted from the contribution of genetic and genomic principles I learned so long ago from Drosophila. The journey continues.
O'Brien, Stephen James. 2019. "A Beautiful Life: High Risk–High Payoff in Genetic Science." Annual Review of Animal Biosciences , (): 1-25. doi:10.1146/annurev-animal-021419-083944.