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Science in Action: Genome Sequencing

In this exhibit, Broad scientists describe today’s powerful genomic technologies and how they are being used to transform genomic science and medicine.

The Films

Sequencing DNA. Decoding or sequencing DNA, whether it’s from a human or a tiny microbe, is a crucial step in many genomic studies. Chad Nusbaum explains how a DNA sequencing machine, one of the Broad’s workhorses, can read the order of As, Ts, Cs, and Gs in a sample of genetic material. He also reveals how new sequencing technologies could revolutionize the way future genomic studies are done.

Combating drug-resistant malaria. Malaria is a huge public health problem around the globe, made worse by the emergence of drug-resistant forms of the parasite that causes the disease. Dyann Wirth and Pardis Sabeti discuss how genome sequencing enables researchers to identify mutations conferring drug resistance, and how this knowledge can help public health officials in at-risk regions make informed treatment decisions and help slow the spread of resistant disease.

The Technology

DNA Analyzer

DNA Analyzer. A workhorse of genomic research, this machine reads the ordered string of chemical letters that make up an organism’s genetic blueprint, or genome. It can handle nearly 100 DNA samples at once, each one yielding a continuous thread of As, Gs, Cs, and Ts. With more than 100 of these machines, over 60 billion letters worth of DNA was read last year at the Broad Institute. That’s like reading the human genome twenty times over!

Plate Stacker & Liquid Handler

Plate Stacker & Liquid Handler. To help balance the workload of deciphering genomes, this pair of machines automatically dispenses the chemicals needed to decode DNA. It measures and delivers fluids with greater dexterity, speed and accuracy than could ever be achieved by hand.