James Kent

December 06, 2007
by findingDulcinea Staff
In 2000, mild-mannered Ph.D. student James Kent performed the work of 10 computer programmers in one month. Here’s why: The human chromosome has over 25,000 genes; through computer analysis we can discover how our genes determine who we are and what we look like. It normally takes a computer many hours to sequence genes, but Kent figured out an algorithm that sped up the process.

The Human Behind the Human Genome

Explore James Kent’s personal Web Page. This site provides links to sites that Kent finds interesting and integral to the discipline of genome biology. The page design, along with the posted information, provides a peek into the mind of James Kent.

Knowledge News offers up a great primer on the human genome. Even if you don’t remember much from high school biology class, this illustrative article will help bring your knowledge of genetics and DNA up to speed.

The Human Genome Project Information Web Site responds to the question “Exactly how many human genes are there?” Even though the mapping of the human genome is complete, scientists are still trying to calculate the exact number of human genes and chemical markers.
Scientific journal Genome Research provides insights and news on the field of genome biology. Archived articles are accessible from August 1991 until the present. From the current issue, don’t miss: “Sex and Virulence in New Pathogen M. catarrhalis.”  Who thought science could be so racy?
James Kent assembled the algorithm that completed the Human Genome Project mere days before Celera Genomics, a private company, finished its version. If corporate giant Celera had been first to complete the sequencing, it would have owned the patent and been able to charge $1 million for access to the genome database. Thanks to the hard work of James Kent, information from the Human Genome Project is now complete and publicly available.

A Surprise Ending

Read this exciting Wired magazine article describing the race to complete the genome project. Hyperlinks within the text direct you to external Web sites with even more detailed information.

The New York Times described James Kent as an “unlikely hero.”
James Kent assembled the algorithm that completed the genome project only three days before the private company Celera finished their version. Read this article from the Seattle Post-Intelligencer for more on the heated debate over public vs. private science.

Science as Entertainment

Download and watch the PBS NOVA television special, “Cracking the Code of Life.” This TV clip explains the Human Genome Project and its importance.
Your Genome offers general and detailed primers on DNA, genes and genomes, the Human Genome Project, and science spotlights.
The movie Gattaca (1997) is a futuristic film that highlights potential problems in the field of genetics. Read this New York Times review of the movie and then watch the film for an interesting representation of how genetic makeup might someday result in discrimination and bigotry.

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