Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Time to Pay the Piper

My days of lollygaggin’ around and carefree living are gone…my MICU rotation is now beginning.

The MICU stands for the Medical Intensive Care Unit. It is a land of endless work, near-hopelessness, no sleep, and death. Needless to say, I’ve been looking forward to this for the past year. Oh yeah, and for those of you out there celebrating on New Year’s Eve…think of me toiling away in the Unit while you are sipping on the bubbly, and try and make your alcohol poisoning not to severe that you wind up paying me a visit in the MICU. Anyways, if my blogging productions suffers over the next month, you know the reason…

Excellent book to recommend for the inner science geek in all of us. “The Common Thread” by John Sulston, who won the Nobel Prize in 2002--he won it for work on cell death in C. elegans (a nematode worm) but the book was more about his essential role in sequencing the human genome. Prior to reading the book, I was dimly aware of the "Race for the Human Genome" between the publicly-funded Human Genome Project (of which John Sulston was a part) and Craig Venter's private corporation, Celera. Reading the book is an outstanding behind-the-scenes version (admittedly, from John Sulston's viewpoint) of the politics behind it all. To distill things into a simplistic explanation of the situation: the public project was responsible for developing nearly all of the difficult technology (e.g., the sequencing, computer analysis, organizational strategy, raw biological material with which to work) and had a committment to sharing data with the public as it became available on a daily basis. The private group got involved once the public consortium had developed the necessary technology and claimed that they would be able to do things "better", a strategy which was aimed at destroying the public group in a bid for Celera to patent as much of the human genome as possible and make some serious moolah. It's scary to think that this could have happened, but fortunately due to the uncompromising stance that Sulston and others took, the Human Genome is now completed and fully available to ALL scientists, regardless of which country or how much funding they have.

Also on the plus side, it looks like my nephew Henry is getting cuter every day!

5 Comments:

Blogger Steve said...

Hey Unky Nate - That is definitely a cute nephew you have there - many congrats to Cathy and Tim!

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