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Seeing the Whole Blueprint: Uncovering the Purpose of “Genomic Junk”

April 8, 2021


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Today, scientists know far more about the human genome—the blueprint of our lives— than was ever imagined when the Human Genome Project was undertaken in the 1990s. And we have entered an era where efficient gene editing is possible. Yet, we still lack a clear understanding of how the full genome works. We don’t know the function served by many of our genes; nor do we know the genes underlying many diseases.

Whitehead Institute Member Yukiko Yamashita postulates one reason we lack these key pieces of knowledge: there are many biological processes and phenomena that we do not even know exist, making it impossible to assign a gene’s function to them.

In this webinar, Yamashita will highlight ways in which fundamental research brings novel biological processes to light. And she will introduce her lab’s latest discoveries on the function of satellite DNA, which has long been regarded as “genomic junk.”




Whitehead Institute