Today we talked genomics with Mike Spear, Communications Director for Genome Alberta. Genome Alberta is a research organization that falls under the umbrella of Genome Canada, charged with genomics research.
Mike has recently been blogging about how he mapped his own genome using 23andMe, deCode, and the DNA Ancestry Project. In fact, he has actually published those results on his blog as well. Mike explained how these services work, and talked about his own experiences getting his gene map done, including what scared him, and surprised him about it.
He also walked us through some of the math and science involved. Some types of gene markers, for instance, are absolute — if you’ve got that gene, you are that way. Others work in combination with other genes, and give us a probability. For example, in the general population, 10% are likely to have asthma. We had a detailed discussion about probability versus certitude and the way in which some people have misinterpreted the results.
We also talked about the ethics, and potential for abuse of these technologies.
And we talked about Genome Alberta’s Genomics Application on Facebook, that lets you send a friend a gene.
Afterward, one enthusiastic participant told me it was the best SquawkBox yet. High praise! I hope you enjoy the show as much as I enjoyed hosting it.
On the call: Mark Hewitt, Julien Raynal, Jeb Brilliant, Ian Hood, James Body, Sheryl Breuker, Mike Spear, Greg McQuay, and Graham Wilson.