Editorials

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  • Guided Open Access is a new publishing option offered at Nature Genetics. Authors can submit once and be simultaneously considered by three journals. Editorial collaboration and a single submission system combine to make the publication process easier and faster.

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  • After a year turned upside-down by the COVID-19 pandemic, and now with promising vaccine news on the horizon, we can start looking forward to a new year with the hope that 2021 will bring exciting things to the science community. Here, Nature Genetics shares what we are awaiting in 2021.

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  • Genetic tools can help uncover evolutionary histories, migration patterns and admixture events of domesticated animals and their wild ancestors. The genetic window into the past can help shape breeding strategies and inform animal agricultural practices that should lead to a more resilient and sustainable future.

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  • Increasing amounts of crop genomic resources, along with new technical achievements in genome analysis, can facilitate basic and translational research in agriculture, and expand the ability to meet the global challenge of food production and security.

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  • Gene nomenclature can be complicated, and the official naming of genes requires rational standards to avoid confusion and to maximize clarity. The HUGO Gene Nomenclature Committee has released updated guidelines for the naming of human genes, and we encourage the community to adopt these recommendations.

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  • When the status quo in science continues to perpetuate ingrained systems of discrimination, inequality and racism, the beneficiaries of these systems must not only reexamine their collective practices but also redress historical injustices through consequential, concrete actions that will lead to change. We cannot focus only on the first steps of listening and learning to build a better, fairer scientific community. We at Nature Genetics fully commit to pledging our energy and efforts toward long-term goals explicitly designed to fundamentally transform how science and its dissemination are conducted.

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  • One of the many consequences of the global COVID-19 pandemic is the need for the scientific community to adapt to the cancellation of conferences and events because of travel restrictions and social-distancing guidelines. We have seen a very swift conversion to online meetings, which have allowed for this established form of science communication to continue and opened new avenues for innovation in the reporting of research and discussion of ideas.

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  • The promise of personalized medicine lies in the tailored treatment of individual patients, a process requiring detailed phenotypic and genetic information. Although the widespread collection of such data can help to advance the implementation of precision healthcare, the genomic sequencing data being amassed also include private information that could potentially be used as a basis for genetic discrimination. It is important for the genetics community to be aware of these risks and to contribute to policies designed to monitor and mitigate threats to the equitable treatment of individuals or populations on the basis of genetics.

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  • In 2015, the World Health Organization (WHO) issued guidelines for the naming of new human infectious diseases. The current global outbreak of the SARS-CoV-2 virus underscores the need to be accurate with our language, particularly as it relates to pandemics.

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  • The Pan-Cancer Analysis of Whole Genomes (PCAWG) Consortium project, led by the International Cancer Genome Consortium (ICGC) and The Cancer Genome Atlas (TCGA), coordinated the sequencing and analysis of 2,583 tumor whole genomes across 38 cancer types. This impressively large project, comprising many working groups focusing on various molecular or genetic features of cancer, has generated valuable data for the cancer research community that will continue to be mined for many years to come.

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  • Given that it is based on heredity and has the ability to trace connections, genetics as a scientific discipline should be among those most attuned to diversity and global perspectives. Indigenous communities and scientists have much to contribute to genetics research, and they are making their voices heard. We celebrate these essential members of our larger genetics community, and we look forward to working together to learn from past examples, meet present challenges and support future opportunities.

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  • As we usher in a new year of a new decade and ponder what the future will bring for the genetics field, we wish to reflect on some specific areas related to diversity, privacy and genome editing that require attention and vigilance from the community.

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  • As the year comes to a close and we start to look ahead to 2020, we thought that we would highlight some of our favorite Nature Genetics papers from 2019. This snapshot also captures some of the topics and themes in genetics that we are most excited to see develop in the near future.

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  • Popular crop plants have been bred and selected for desirable taste and color traits. Genomic approaches are increasingly being used to provide insights into the origins, evolution and biology of our favorite foods. Large-scale sequencing efforts have brought agriculture genomics into the big-data era, leading to sweet rewards.

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  • Understanding how to biologically interpret the loci identified in genome-wide association studies is a major goal of current genetics research. To achieve this goal, we need to understand where, when and how relevant genes are expressed in specific contexts, in order to explore the mechanistic links between genetic associations and diseases or complex traits.

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  • The genome of the model genetic organism Pisum sativum, or pea plant, links nineteenth-century genetics to twenty-first-century genomics, serving as a symbol of how far the genetics field has developed and how greatly technologies have advanced. Almost every student’s introduction to genetics currently involves learning Mendel’s laws; we envision that genomics and genome sequencing will become just as foundational in the education of future geneticists.

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  • Record high temperatures are being seen worldwide, thus placing strains on human health and disrupting the availability of essential resources such as food and water. Aberrant weather patterns in the form of intense storms or prolonged drought have put pressure on our agricultural systems and underscored the need for adaptation to a changing climate across many sectors. Complex problems require complex solutions, and genetic approaches could be a powerful tool for helping to mitigate the effects of climate change.

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  • 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.

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  • 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.

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  • 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.

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