Category Archives: NOT junk

Blinded by Big Science: The lesson I learned from ENCODE is that projects like ENCODE are not a good idea

When the draft sequence of the human genome was finished in 2001, the accomplishment was heralded as marking the dawn of the age of “big biology”. The high-throughput techniques and automation developed to sequence DNA on a massive scale would be wielded to generate not just genomes, but reference data sets in all areas of […]

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A neutral theory of molecular function

In 1968 Motoo Kimura published a short article in Nature in which he argued that “most mutations produced by nucleotide replacement are almost neutral in natural selection”. This fantastic paper is generally viewed as having established the “neutral theory” of molecular evolution, whose central principle was set out by Jack King and Lester Jukes in a Science paper the […]

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This 100,000 word post on the ENCODE media bonanza will cure cancer

It is oddly fitting that the papers describing the results of the NIH’s massive $200m ENCODE project were published in the midst of political convention season. For this was no typical scientific publication, but a carefully orchestrated spectacle, meant to justify a massive, expensive undertaking, and to convince us that we are better off now […]

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2009 Grand Prize Winner for most egregious use of “junk DNA”

Research team finds important role for junk DNA by Kitta MacPherson Scientists have called it “junk DNA.” They have long been perplexed by these extensive strands of genetic material that dominate the genome but seem to lack specific functions. Why would nature force the genome to carry so much excess baggage? […]

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Our new paper in PLoS One: why we should sequence big genomes

We have a new paper out in PLoS One that I think is particularly cool: Peterson BK*, Hare EE*, Iyer VN, Storage S, Conner L, et al. (2009) Big Genomes Facilitate the Comparative Identification of Regulatory Elements. PLoS ONE 4(3): e4688.  The paper is about species with big genomes – in particular species from the […]

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Junk DNA Bad, Junk Gene Good

A few weeks ago Carl Zimmer wrote a nice post at The Loom taking science writers to task for leaping at every chance to grab ahold of the “Wow! Junk DNA is not junk after all!” news hook. He correctly pointed out that we’ve known for years that non-coding DNA has lots of function, and […]

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Scientists cynical use of "Junk DNA"

This blog – like many others I presume – was started to give me a place to vent about a pet peeve. The target of my particular ire is the way that scientists who should know better continue to tout every new paper on the function of non-coding DNA as a new discovery that – […]

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