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Ultraconservation and Living Fossils Mysteries of the Human Genome

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Old 12-19-2006, 05:16 PM
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Ultraconservation and Living Fossils Mysteries of the Human Genome


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Google Tech Talks October 23, 2006

Gill Bejerano holds a BSc, summa cum laude, in Mathematics, Physics, and Computer Science, and a PhD ... all ยป in Computer Science from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Israel. Twice recipient of the RECOMB best paper by a young scientist award, and a former Eshkol pre-doctoral Scholar and HHMI postdoc. As co-discoverer of ultraconserved elements, his research focuses on deciphering the function and evolution of the non-coding regions of the Human Genome. Gill is currently a postdoc with David Haussler at UC Santa Cruz, and in early 2007 he will join Stanford university as an Assistant Professor in the Department of Developmental Biology and the Department of Computer Science.

ABSTRACT The human genome, the hereditary material we pass on to our progeny, can be cast as a 3 billion letter string over a DNA alphabet of four. We currently understand 1.5% of this mass, mostly in the form of genes, DNA substrings that code for proteins, the quintessential constituents of every living cell. The remainder 98.5% of our genome was often deemed as "junk". This picture changed when the genome of related species became available. By comparison we are suddenly able to pinpoint the locations of a staggering one million additional human subsequences that must be important to the human cell. The functions of these regions remain largely unknown, while their sheer volume overwhelms any comprehensive experimental approach. Guided by experimental results for handfuls of these subsequences, computational approaches can be employed to tackle the tremendous challenge of understanding this data and providing key biological observations. In this talk, I will describe ultraconserved elements, some of the most perplexing regions within the human genome, and track down a phenomenon of turning genomic junk into gold. The talk will assume no prior knowledge in Molecular Biology
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