What is unique about you? From a genomic standpoint, the answer is deceptively simple: approximately 3 million base pairs of DNA. That’s the number of differences most people have from the average human genome. That may sound like a lot. But considering there are 3 billion base pairs in the genome, only about 1/1,000th of your DNA is distinctively yours. Can we draw a line from that genetic variation to traits, like your looks, your personality and your health? That big question is at the heart of the modern era of biology. A deep and detailed understanding of the relationship between genetics and traits would be an enormous breakthrough for medicine; enabling us to better predict, diagnose, treat and prevent disease.
Leonid Kruglyak, PhD, is a UCLA scientist whose creative and agile approach is lighting the path from genomes to traits. The vast majority of traits – from height to schizophrenia to cancer predisposition – are determined by a constellation of thousands of genetic variations. Currently, scientists can identify tens or sometimes hundreds of variations in the genome that contribute to a given trait. But we aren’t getting the whole picture. Kruglyak develops groundbreaking technologies and tools that enable scientists to find those missing pieces and to understand how the puzzle fits together.
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