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Genetics Unzipped podcast: Reading the book of life – A brief history of DNA sequencing

Posted by , on 23 September 2021

Output from an ABI 373 DNA sequencer, Image courtesy of National Human Genome Research Institute

In the latest Genetics Unzipped podcast, Dr Kat Arney takes a look at how we learned to read the book of life, from the earliest days of DNA sequencing to the very latest futuristic technologies.

Today, sequencing machines in labs around the world are churning out billions of basepairs of DNA data, and the very latest techniques even promise to allow us to read DNA inside cells. The cost of reading a whole human genome has gone from $2.7 billion dollars for the first one to a few hundred or even less or even zero, depending on how you count it and who’s paying.

And as you’ll know if you’re a fan of this podcast, widespread, cheaper access to rapid DNA sequencing has revolutionised almost every aspect of life sciences research, from personalized medicine and clinical diagnostics to conservation, infectious diseases, evolutionary biology and much, much more.

We’ve come a long way since those early days. So how did we get from there to here?

Genetics Unzipped is the podcast from The Genetics Society. Full transcript, links and references available online at

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