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Judging DNA

By | January 13, 2003

Claire Fraser heads The Institute for Genomic Research in Rockville, Maryland. She has researched microbial genomics since the early 1990s and previously studied G-protein coupled receptors. TS: What lessons have you taken from the discovery of DNA's structure? CF: I so vividly remember when I first read Jim Watson's book The Double Helix...in college. I was really starting to get involved in research, and I was actually wrestling with the decision to go on to a career in research or go on

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Judging DNA

By | January 13, 2003

Courtesy of National Library of Medicine Marshall W. Nirenberg, laboratory chief of biochemical genetics at the National Institutes of Health's National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, received a Nobel Prize in 1968 for helping to interpret the genetic code and its function in protein synthesis. Q: How did the discovery of the double-helix structure relate to the cracking of the genetic code? A: George Gamow, the physicist, told me he went down his driveway to pick up the mail one day and

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Metaphors and Dreams

By | January 13, 2003

The DNA revolution may be just too big to take in: beyond words, even 50 years on. Think of four chemical bases coupled exclusively to each other, adenine with thymine, guanine with cytosine, in a double helix. Then think of this double helix having the power to unwind and duplicate, to make new helixes. So far, so simple. The structure spells out a gene that makes a protein, and makes more DNA. But like the double helix itself, the challenges divide into questions of scale and complexity. In

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Ownership and Identity

By | January 13, 2003

Getty Images In the half century since James D. Watson and Francis Crick pieced out the structure of DNA, research into the double helix has transformed knowledge of development, function, and disease. It has also become a commonplace truth that DNA (or RNA) is the unique sine qua non of any living organism. As such, it comprises a material identifier, a collection of base-pair sequences that provide an individual's signature, independent of the information that any one sequence may encode. Wh

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