Suppose I walked into a lab, set a vial of blood on a bench, and requested my genome sequence. What would it cost? How long would it take? Is anyone anywhere near winning J. Craig Venter?s $10 million prize for the first $1,000 genome?

Today?s gold standard, Applied Biosystems? 96-capillary 3730xl DNA sequencer ($365,000) can generate some 2.8 million bases of raw sequence per day using the company?s new TargetSeq run module. At that rate, I?d need 2,100 days (nearly six years) to collect six billion bases (three billion bases from two sets of chromosomes). That?s a long time, but, says Harvard geneticist George Church, ?There?re very few emergency situations where you need your genome sequence right now.? Yet even if the lab were as efficient as a genome center ? which, according to product manager Suresh Pisharody, operate at better than $0.75 per sample total cost ? I?d be...

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