Genetics + Genomics

Figuring what a gene does is hard work, but it’s vastly easier than it was a few years ago. Back then, you would laboriously isolate a single gene, tinker with it to get some inkling about its purpose, and then start speculating about how it might collaborate with other genes. Now, microarrays let researchers gather exponentially more data about gene expression.

A growing list of mammals is joining humans, mice, and chimpanzees in the exclusive club of those whose whole genome has been sequenced—giving complete and matching sets of each animal's DNA, and offering researchers the opportunity to rebuild biology and medicine from the ground up.

In the 19th century, mathematical formulas didn’t figure much into biology. But when Austrian monk Gregor Mendel crossed and counted his round and wrinkled peas, he found something unexpected: a pattern.

For decades the human Y chromosome, the male sex chromosome, has been the Rodney Dangerfield of human genetics: "it don't get no respect." For long, the Y was considered to be little more than a smaller, less stable version of the X. Now, new evidence from Dr. Page and his collaborators at the Whitehead Institute, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and the University of Washington reveals that the Y chromosome has led an independent existence after all.