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Volume 456 Issue 7218, 6 November 2008

Your life in your hands: Instructions for the personal genome age As the number of humans with their genomes fully sequenced grows and direct-to-consumer gene profiling companies push the boundaries of medical genetics, the once fanciful idea that medical and other interventions can be tailored around an individual's personal genome begins to look plausible. Which raises the question: how do we use this wealth of information? This issue focuses on personal genomics and its consequences. In News Features we seek the 'missing heritability' that seems to limit the number of disease-linked genes being found [page 18], look at a technology that may drive next generation of DNA sequencing machines [page 23] and reflect on the surprise closure of a lab at the forefront of genomics research [page 26]. Commentaries discuss the problems of balancing an individual's rights to privacy with the maximization for public benefit [page 32] and the ethics of personal genome tests [page 34]. These matters are considered in the Editorial [page 1] and go to to air your views in the Nature forum. See also News [pages 11 & 12] and download the podcast from Cover graphic by Jay Taylor


  • Editorial |

    Research is needed into the way individuals use their genomic information, and into protection from its abuse by others.

  • Editorial |

    The US Food and Drug Administration is misguided in its approach to genetically modified animals.

  • Editorial |

    Researchers should support new initiatives aimed at engaging them with human-rights groups.

Research Highlights


Journal Club


News in Brief


  • Column |

    Researchers should keep a cool head about science under Obama, David Goldston argues.

    • David Goldston

News Feature

  • News Feature |

    When scientists opened up the human genome, they expected to find the genetic components of common traits and diseases. But they were nowhere to be seen. Brendan Maher shines a light on six places where the missing loot could be stashed away.

    • Brendan Maher
  • News Feature |

    Could the next generation of genetic sequencing machines be built from a collection of minuscule holes? Katharine Sanderson reports.

    • Katharine Sanderson
  • News Feature |

    Eric Schadt revels in making people uncomfortable with his science. Bryn Nelson reports how the bioinformatics rabble-rouser hopes to charge ahead in the face of his company's disintegration.

    • Bryn Nelson



  • Commentary |

    As the prospect of personal genomes for all promises to revolutionize personal health records, Patrick Taylor says that mandating consent does not protect privacy or ensure public benefit.

    • Patrick Taylor
  • Commentary |

    Personal-genome tests are blurring the boundary between experts and lay people. Barbara Prainsack, Jenny Reardon and a team of international collaborators urge regulators to rethink outdated models of regulation.

    • Barbara Prainsack
    • Jenny Reardon
    • Jeantine E. Lunshof

Books & Arts

  • Books & Arts |

    Whether natural or intentional, the security threats posed by arthropods — from assassin bugs to disease-carrying pests — should be of concern to us all, explains Kenneth J. Linthicum.

    • Kenneth J. Linthicum
  • Books & Arts |

    The dawn of the nuclear era finds its voice in Doctor Atomic, an opera about J. Robert Oppenheimer and the making of the first atom bomb. With a new production showing in New York, composer John Adams explains how physicists have reacted to the work, and how writing it has changed his view of nuclear weapons.

    • Jascha Hoffman


  • Essay |

    Language evolved as part of a uniquely human group of traits, the interdependence of which calls for an integrated approach to the study of brain function, argue Eörs Szathmáry and Szabolcs Számadó.

    • Eörs Szathmáry
    • Szabolcs Számadó

News & Views

  • News & Views |

    Changing weather patterns, producing the wrong kind of snow, have transformed the population dynamics of lemmings in northern Scandinavia. The knock-on effects have been felt throughout the ecosystem.

    • Tim Coulson
    • Aurelio Malo
  • News & Views |

    A large simulation reveals that most of the detectable signal from dark matter in our Milky Way probably comes from the main, smooth Galactic halo, rather than from small clumps.

    • Stéphane Colombi
  • News & Views |

    Small-scale interactions of substrates with an enzyme's active site — over distances smaller than the length of a chemical bond — can make big differences to the enzyme's catalytic efficiency.

    • Anthony J. Kirby
    • Florian Hollfelder
  • News & Views |

    A re-evaluation of the relationship between Earth's orbital parameters, ice-sheet extent and ocean circulation sets further puzzles for those trying to disentangle cause from effect in long-term climatic changes.

    • Michel Crucifix
  • News & Views |

    The link between a person's genetic ancestry and the traits — including disease risk — that he or she exhibits remains elusive. Routine sequencing of the genomes of an African and an Asian individual offer a step forward.

    • Samuel Levy
    • Robert L. Strausberg




Postdocs and Students


Networks and Support

Career View


  • Futures |

    Happy families.

    • Catherine Mintz


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