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Decoding human genomes on a population scale

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Fitzwilliam College Foundation Lecture 2014

One copy of the human genome comprises a code made up of an arrangement of just over three billion units of the DNA bases (or ’”letters”) G, C, A and T. The Human Genome Project took many years and thousands of instruments to decode the first human genome at a cost of several hundred million dollars. A human genome can now be decoded on a single instrument in one day for a thousand dollars.

In this lecture Professor Shankar Balasubramanian will discuss the history of DNA sequencing and a method for rapidly decoding the genomes that originated in Cambridge in the 1990s. Professor Balasubramanian will also consider the impact of rapid genome sequencing on the life sciences, medicine and society.

Shankar Balasubramanian is the Herchel Smith Professor of Medicinal Chemistry and a Senior Group Leader at the Cancer Research UK Cambridge Institute. He co-invented the leading method for decoding DNA that has made routine, accurate, low-cost sequencing of human genomes a reality. He was an undergraduate and postgraduate at Fitzwilliam College (1985-1991) and has been a Fellow of Trinity College since 1994.

The lecture is free and open to all, with refreshments to follow. Please book your place at

This talk is part of the Fitzwilliam College Foundation Lectures series.

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