Tiling the Genome: Naming the Parts of Your Genome That Make You You

DNA Lecture Series

A lecture by Alexander (Sasha) Wait Zaranek, chief scientist at Curoverse Inc. and director of informatics at the Harvard Personal Genome Project.

Almost every cell in your body has about six billion characters (As,Cs, Gs, and Ts) of nearly identical DNA that make up your genome. A particular sequence of As, Cs, Gs, or Ts can indicate a growing tumor, a predisposition to a serious disease much later in life, or nothing at all. As millions of people get their genome sequenced, physicians and researchers as well as the individuals themselves will want to ask questions of these data. To ask questions we need a consistent naming scheme for parts of the genome. To address this we invented tiling—a technique that divides the genome into about 10 million overlapping, variable-length sequences, or "tiles," defined by their starting and ending unique 24-base tags. We will use examples from public data to show that tiling supports simple and consistent names, annotation, queries, machine learning, and clinical screening. Someday soon you may get to know the tiles in your own genome, and your doctor may use the information to realize precision medicine.

This event is free and open to the public. Doors open at 4:45 p.m.; lecture begins at 5 p.m.

Part of the DNA lecture series. A larger, one-day public symposium on the topic, "The Past, Present, and Future of DNA," took place on Friday, October 2, 2015.