What is Genomics and How Will it Affect My Life?
Fifty-five years ago James Watson and Francis Crick made one of the most important scientific discoveries of all time: the DNA "double helix." The discovery of the structure of DNA – the genetic material in all living organisms – was immediately hailed as a significant breakthrough, but no one then could have predicted the enormous impact it would have on biology, on medicine and on our understanding of life itself.
Today, DNA is reaching new levels of popularity. Every student learns what it looks like and something about what it’s responsible for. Our newspapers and magazines continually report some important new breakthrough connected to DNA-related research. DNA is the subject of popular science books, magazines and television series from the ubiquitous CSI to the Canadian – and Genome Canada supported – ReGenesis.
Another sign of just how deeply our culture is being influenced by the world of DNA is the number of related terms that have entered our vocabulary – genomics, proteomics, cloning, genetically modified foods and the Human Genome Project, which reveals the complexity of the digital code contained in DNA.
Let’s examine one of these terms - genomics. Genomics is a big picture science. Microbiological details are certainly important to its practice, but its core aim is to understand the mind-boggling complexity of how genes interact with each other and their environment to make living organisms do what they do. A genome, you will find out as you explore this site, is a truly awesome thing.
Today's scientists are also on the verge of understanding how immunity to infectious diseases works, how to grow hardier and more productive crops, how to make forests resistant to disease and even how to develop new, cleaner sources of energy.
You can learn about these and other genomics-related developments right here on our web site and by visiting Phase II of the GEEE! in Genome exhibition that is now being viewed as part of its cross-Canada tour.