Decades of basic research are finally starting to yield clinical implications. In 2007, it cost $1 million to fully sequence a person’s genome. By mid-2009, Complete Genomics says it will do it for $5,000, and some experts predict that, within five years, the cost will decline to $100. That decline will greatly accelerate medical discoveries and already enables a person to determine if he or she is at increased risk of diabetes, cancer, heart disease, Alzheimer’s, and 15 other conditions. Within a decade, we will probably understand which genes predispose humans to everything from depression to violence, early death to centenarian longevity, retardation to genius. Such discoveries will likely give rise to ways to prevent or cure our dreaded predispositions and encourage those in which we’d delight. That, in turn, will bring about the reinvention of psychology, education, and, of course, medicine. In the meantime, the unsung heroes who will bring this true revolution to pass will include computational biologists and behavioral geneticists.
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