May 11, 2009 — 11:22am ET |
By John Carroll
Can serious genetics research be undertaken in a garage?
That’s a question that renowned Harvard geneticist George Church, the founder of Knome, is asking as one of his former students undertakes an ambitious genetics project in her own apartment. Using equipment bought on eBay, 23-year-old MIT graduate Katherine Aull has been studying the genetic mutations responsible for her father’s hemochromatosis, a condition in which iron builds up in the body.
Her father is fine, after treatment, and now Aull has been testing herself.
“For so many people, biology is something scary that takes place in a lab,” Aull told the Boston Globe. “This shows people it’s understandable, and part of your life… You can do it with basic kitchen equipment.”
“Can genetics map onto electronics–is it ready to go into the garage shop in a hobbyist sense?” said Church. “That’s the question she’s asking, and I think that’s a very big, profound question… There seems to be a very deep and growing curiosity about genetics that might dwarf electronics. No matter how much we love our gadgets, we’re totally fascinated by our ancestry and health.”
– read the report from the Boston Globe