Editorials

  • Editorial |

    We are constantly amazed by the power of genetics and its ability to solve complex and seemingly intractable problems. The creative application of genetic and genomic analyses to diverse areas has led to advances across basic biology and human disease. We hope to continue to see technologies develop that expand the genetic and genomic toolkit and that bring new discoveries and insights into basic and applied research.

  • Editorial |

    In the field of infectious diseases, genomics can be a useful tool for guiding vaccine development. Given the inevitability and increasing prevalence of antibiotic resistance, vaccines against pathogenic microbes can be even more valuable than antibiotics as a strategy to prevent serious or deadly infectious diseases. Genomic resources from global analysis of large numbers of clinical isolates can serve as a basis for identifying appropriate candidates for vaccine antigens, and we encourage continued efforts in the generation of pan-genome sequences for bacterial or viral pathogens.

  • Editorial |

    The field of cancer genomics is currently in an exciting and fast-paced era. With advances in sequencing technologies, computational approaches and tumor models, understanding of cancer processes is at an all-time high, and the application of new methods to studying cancer holds great promise for developing important breakthroughs in cancer treatment and prevention.

  • Editorial |

    Genetic resources and analyses overwhelmingly center on individuals of European ancestry. We encourage the community to embrace a global approach to genetic and genomic studies to address imbalances in the composition of cohorts and the subsequent translatability of findings.

  • Editorial |

    The development of CRISPR–Cas technology and its applications in biomedical research have generated much excitement. If fully realized, this technology has the potential to help treat or prevent severe diseases. However, these tools also carry considerable risk if improperly used. The scientific community must promote constructive dialogue among its members and within society at large to ensure that research on genome editing is conducted responsibly.

  • Editorial |

    Ensuring that agricultural production meets the goal of feeding a world experiencing continued human population growth and increasingly severe effects from climate change is an urgent challenge. Genomics has a role to play in maximizing the utility, diversity and yield of resources, as well as in contributing to sustained food security in the future.

  • Editorial |

    Well-designed science education via social media may help to reach a larger group of audiences with the aim of reducing the boundaries between researchers and the public. This may, in turn, move basic science toward translational improvement in human health and agriculture.

  • Editorial |

    We are inviting presubmission enquiries for Articles, Perspectives and Analyses on human, animal, plant and microbial genetics and genomics from Africa, by corresponding authors living and working in African countries, with the aim of publishing an issue of the journal devoted to African genetics.

  • Editorial |

    A number of journalistic reports over the last year have drawn attention to dismaying trends in maternal and fetal health in the United States, particularly among African Americans. This public health crisis highlights the need for research into the genetic basis of maternal–fetal health and consideration of the genetic risk factors and exposures of women and children in diverse populations more broadly.

  • Editorial |

    Precision genomic medicine is now technically feasible. Just as global positioning systems revolutionized the logistics of travel, so genome-wide polygenic risk scores (GPSs) now have the potential to inform our trajectories of health and to serve in the prevention and mitigation of many common and complex diseases. We welcome research into the implementation of—and equity of access to—genetic predictors and their integration into clinical and evidence-based medical practice.

  • Editorial |

    Genomic research, sensitively deployed, has enormous potential to improve human health, animal health and agricultural crop quality and to guide sustainable contributions to the health of our environment. Within this broad context, we can learn from the metabolic adaptations and vulnerabilities of species threatened by environmental challenges in the context of climate change.

  • Editorial |

    In this issue, we highlight examples of the growing capability of genetic epidemiology and its intersection with genomic data to identify the underpinnings of the functions, predispositions and vulnerabilities of the human brain. In particular, we are publishing three studies into intelligence, neuroticism and epilepsy with the potential to guide interventions in education, neuroscience and medicine, respectively.

  • Editorial |

    To celebrate the Rosa genomes, we invite you to imagine ways to make rosy data as well loved as the roses themselves. This is an opportunity for data modeling and new discoveries from reanalysis, as well as for data display to feed public interest in the science and culture of flowers.

  • Editorial |

    With new ways to examine the effects of mutations on gene expression within the 3D genome and increased emphasis on finding these variants by sequencing whole genomes, we would really like to know more about the rules that govern noncoding and regulatory sequences.

  • Editorial |

    Largely owing to inequitable distribution of resources, the United States is failing its population in healthcare, for which it vastly overspends relative to other wealthy countries. We advocate extending research in genetic epidemiology to oversample poor people, underserved ancestry groups and ethnic minorities, as well as to use genetic predisposition as a baseline from which to examine environmental influences on the costly comorbidities of common diseases.

  • Editorial |

    The multiple standardized clinical measurements that make up one’s lifetime path through health and disease are essential information for yourself and your healthcare system. Aggregated into a population cohort study across a single-payer network, these data become an extraordinary tool for improving the efficiency of healthcare delivery and new discoveries in genomic medicine.

  • Editorial |

    The reconstruction of the genome of a woman of African ancestry from her European descendants, across eight generations, connects living people to a documented saga, drawing attention to the individuals who participated in historic events at a time when the legal, cultural and ethical implications of individual human rights began to gain currency. It is also a technical achievement that extends the methodologies for understanding our interwoven genomic and social histories.

  • Editorial |

    This issue features epigenetic analysis of cell commitment at many levels in mammalian genomes: during early embryonic development, in stem cells, and in cancer cells. The establishment, propagation and dynamic robustness of cell states is addressed by comprehensive interrogation of the coordination of DNA methylation with the marks and organization of chromatin and programs of gene expression. Understanding this landscape of commitment is essential to interpretation of the functional consequences of genome variation.

  • Editorial |

    In the motivation, conduct and reporting of science, there is no substitute for reason, and it must prevail whenever scientific methods are used. Similarly, scientific recommendations can only be useful if they meet with rational decision-making. Because people come to decisions from diverse viewpoints and values, listening to the values and views of scientists and non-scientists—while explicitly refraining from debate and persuasion—may point the way to determining when and where scientific ideas are of interest and likely to be adopted.

  • Editorial |

    Citation of prior publications is essential both to claim that knowledge is needed in your area of research and to establish that you have indeed advanced understanding substantially in that area. The journal deplores and will decline to consider manuscripts that fail to identify the key findings of published articles and that—deliberately or inadvertently—omit the reason the prior work is cited.

  • Editorial |

    This issue highlights a range of genetic techniques and cell biological models required to begin to understand the levels of long-range regulation of gene expression as it occurs during cell differentiation. Explanations based on the specificity of covalent modifications and binding interactions intersect with evidence for conjectured mechanisms of topological loop creation and maintenance by transcription and motile protein activities.

  • Editorial |

    A solution to screening for recessive heritable disorders and identifying genetic influences on common diseases is to be found in the history of one of the world's most populous regions. Large South Asian populations are a mosaic of smaller populations, many of which have founder effects as extreme as those in the European isolates that first inspired genetic medicine.

  • Editorial |

    This month's research articles span the range of scales of gene-regulatory mechanisms, from a deceptively simple gene therapy vector, via synthetic gene expression circuits, to extremely intricate epigenetic switches. We encourage investigation of synthetic circuits exploring the functions of the 3D genome.

  • Editorial |

    This journal and Scientific Data are calling for submissions containing linked open data models that embody and extend the FAIR principles: that data should be findable, accessible, interoperable and reusable by both humans and machines. These principles are achievable with existing resources, languages and vocabularies to enable computers to combine and reanalyze data sets automatically and lead humans to new discoveries.

  • Editorial |

    Understanding of how epigenetic information is acquired, processed and transmitted through cell division, and potentially across generations, remains limited. Mechanistic studies aiming to elucidate the molecular underpinnings of these phenomena may provide insights into development, disease susceptibility and evolution.

  • Editorial |

    With the advent of precision genome editing, the ability to modify living organisms has proceeded with remarkable speed and breadth. Any application of this technology to the human germ line must be tightly coupled to deliberate consideration of the consequences, both scientific and social, of introducing heritable alterations to the human population. We recommend constant oversight and evaluation of human germline genome editing to balance prudence with discovery, and risk with progress.

  • Editorial |

    Agriculture has depended since its Neolithic origins upon spontaneous or induced genetic variation. Human selection on naturally occurring variation in flowering is the most frequent source of domesticated crop plants. In the current era of rapid technological advance in reading and writing genomes, we advocate universal access to some safe modular variation in flower, leaf and color traits that can be operated without labs or restrictions by ordinary farmers and gardeners.

  • Editorial |

    Investment in national infrastructure should include a scalable open informatics solution for agricultural genomics, germplasm and crop traits. This is a priority measure for economic stimulus and food security. As building this knowledge harvester should be simpler than the infrastructure required for precision medicine, it will also pave the way to that goal.

  • Editorial |

    Single-nucleotide variation (SNPs or SNVs) in the human genome is now being used by the public and by researchers interested in the functional mechanisms of genetic perturbation for the 3D structure and function of the nucleus in various cells and tissues, and for understanding human–microbiota interactions. We have some requests for authors that may help prevent misunderstanding as familiar genetic markers acquire new users.

  • Editorial |

    A prevalent but trivial systematic error in supplementary tables provides a reminder that genomic and other large data files are most usable when they are readable by both humans and machines. It is best practice to deposit large files in public databases and to provide accession links for peer review rather than to delay data deposition until publication.

  • Editorial |

    The coevolution of staple crops and human society can be traced in the relics of ancient genomes and in population genetic signatures that our interdependence has left on our genomes and those of our crop plants. Patterns of geographical adaptation in the genomes of local crop varieties connect millennia of survival strategies of subsistence farmers with future agricultural improvement in the face of challenges from environmental changes.

  • Editorial |

    A recent recommendation that a large number of professional data stewards be trained and employed in all data-rich research projects raises the exciting prospect they will conduct research on data-intensive research itself. It also focuses us on questions about the role of all scientists in data quality and accessibility as well as how best to measure the value of good data stewardship to science and society.

  • Editorial |

    Precision medicine is a sufficiently imprecise term to cover cohort research in epidemiology as well as evidence-based improvements in clinical delivery and informatics. We think it should continue to build and improve upon the rigorous standards for measurement of genome sequence variation.

  • Editorial |

    The genetics of plant breeding cannot by itself end hunger and malnutrition nor ensure sustainable food production. However, driven by genomics, it provides tools with which to raise the research profile and standards of two related fields that together will do so: agronomy, as it relates to crop ecology and evolution, and nutritional natural products research.

  • Editorial |

    Comparison of evolutionary adaptations and innovations illuminates the genetic basis for the development of animal forms. Gene networks that retain similar wiring diagrams in diverse and distantly related organisms point to the ways in which regulatory regions of the genome evolve. We may be close to being able to use comparative genomics to predict the evolvability of gene networks.

  • Editorial |

    The FAIR data principles are simple guidelines for ensuring that machines can find and use data, supporting data reuse by individuals. More—and better—research can be generated by designing data and algorithms to be findable, accessible, interoperable and reusable, together with the tools and workflows that led to these data.

  • Editorial |

    The migration of cancer genomics data to cloud computing is a great encouragement for data reuse and integration by bioinformaticians and other data symbionts. Because the cloud allows rapid, transparent and reproducible research on large data sets, we are keen to consider articles and analyses submitted to the journal that provide peer referee access to their constituent cloud projects.

  • Editorial |

    The journal endorses the principle of transparency in the production of genome-edited crops and livestock as a precondition for the registration of a breed or cultivar, with no further need for regulation or distinction of these goods from the products of traditional breeding.

  • Editorial |

    A large collection of human genomes from Sardinia is reported in three linked papers that implicate new genetic variants in the regulation of height, blood lipids, inflammatory markers and hemoglobin levels. These analyses provide new insight into disease susceptibility and evolution in isolated human populations and illuminate the genetics of complex phenotypes.

  • Editorial |

    Journal requirements for data deposition and encouragement of deposition of preprints in a community preprint server are stated policy. Because many authors put data in a public repository only upon publication and many still ask about the status of preprints, here is a further statement of our position.

  • Editorial |

    The reference human genome assembly is remarkable in its completeness and usefulness in research. However, the range of allelic variation in the human population is not well described by a haploid assembly with a profusion of alternative loci. Homozygous regions and the use of multiple sequencing technologies increasingly have roles in strategies for identifying regulatory and trait-associated variation.

  • Editorial |

    From the Human Genome Organization (HUGO) onward, there has been a desire to get together to talk about using our shared genomic heritage to improve human health and development. We now have all the organizations we need and should collaborate on multiple practical demonstrations of the usefulness of genomic knowledge—be it human, animal or plant—for human health.

  • Editorial |

    A considerable proportion of the usefulness and interest of research publications in our field comes from the data and associated metadata. We therefore insist that data be available for peer reviewers to see and readers to use. Authors should use public permanent repositories designed for appropriately consented data.

  • Editorial |

    We offer to publish Analyses of genomic and phenotypic data that present new concepts and strategies for the improvement of crop plant yield and nutritional value via the introduction, selection and use of genetic variation within the context of changes in markets, climate, water use and agronomic practices.