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Hacks and Headlines: a press conference with Sir Paul Nurse

Rupert P Cole5 September 2012

This, being my first press conference, was a slightly strange, exciting and revealing experience. Sir Paul Nurse, President of the Royal Society and Director of the Francis Crick Institute, was here to take questions on a hotly-anticipated forthcoming Nature paper.

The paper is a genome-wide association study (GWAS) and there is word that this may be the next big thing in genetics research. Paul  gave us a brief back-story.

Ten or fifteen years ago, it was thought only about 1-2% of the human genome was biologically functional, the rest considered to be “junk DNA” with no known function. Recently, however, a lot of evidence has been gathered to suggest that the remaining 98% is doing a lot more.

Sir Paul was predictably asked whether this new research will be a major “breakthrough” in medical genetics. Coolly dismissing the media’s obsession with breakthroughs, he replied that he preferred to describe it as “just another brick in the wall” –  he must be a Pink Floyd fan.

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