Why don't we finish the human genome first?

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Sandra Porter

One of the interesting things I learned today was that many people are calling for the genome sequences of the chimps and Macaques to be finished.

This is especially amusing because the human genome isn't quite done. We're primates, too! Why not finish our genome?

[I blame these new-found revelations on Twitter. Despite my youngest daughter's warning that only old people use Twitter, I've joined my SciBlings and taken the plunge. (you can even follow me! @digitalbio).

Now, I get to indulge my geeky tendencies while waiting in line at the grocery store. I just type #cshl and voila! I get the low down on the best and boringest talks at the Cold Spring Harbor genome meeting.]

What do you mean the human genome isn't done!

Yes, I know there was a press conference a few years ago so people could congratulate themselves for having finished sequencing the human genome. And, I suppose the main characters were finished with sequencing the human genome.

But finished â  complete and the word "done" is rather subjective. I know I define "done" differently sometimes than my children.

"Done" doesn't mean we know the entire sequence.

Figure 1. The human genome all done up from Genome Reference Consortium

This image shows the parts that are done in blue and the parts that are not done in black. Presumably, medically unimportant genes (if any) map to those black, unfinished parts.

The page also has a funny note saying "Next Build Release Spring 2009" Is it Spring yet?

I know there were good reasons for doing the parts that got finished and leaving the other parts out of the definition of "done." But DNA sequencing has come along way from the days when people used to joke about sentencing errant post-docs to concentrated sequencing camps.

But if there's a commitment to finishing a primate sequence, can we get our genome done too?