Documentary Film about Personal Genome Project

Two-time Emmy award-winning documentary producer Marilyn Ness has been following around the Personal Genome Project (PGP) staff and volunteers for the past several years. I’m thrilled to announce that she has released the opening sequence and webisode #1 featuring George Church, founder and participant. More webisodes will be released in the coming weeks!

Opening Sequence:

Webisode #1 featuring George Church:

You can read more about the documentary project by visiting Marilyn’s website:

Short bio for Marilyn Ness:
Marilyn Ness is a two-time Emmy Award-winning documentary producer with 14 years of experience. She founded Necessary Films in 2005, directing short films for non-profits including the ACLU and developing documentaries for television including Bad Blood and GENOME: The Future Is Now. Prior to that, Ness spent four years as a producer for director Ric Burns, collaborating on four award-winning PBS films: Ansel Adams; The Center of the World; Andy Warhol; and Eugene O’Neil. Ness’s other credits include films for The Learning Channel, Court TV, and National Geographic, as well as films for the PBS series American Experience and the theatrical feature The Life and Times of Hank Greenberg.

Personal Genome Project and 23andMe on Charlie Rose

Charlie Rose interviews PGP participants George Church and Steven Pinker, as well as founders of 23andMe Linda Avey and Anne Wojcicki. Here is the video:

Steven Pinker Reflects on His Genome

Steven Pinker, one of the PGP-10 has written an essay for this weekend’s NYT Magazine. Here is a clip:

Assessing risks from genomic data is not like using a pregnancy-test kit with its bright blue line. It’s more like writing a term paper on a topic with a huge and chaotic research literature. You are whipsawed by contradictory studies with different sample sizes, ages, sexes, ethnicities, selection criteria and levels of statistical significance…there’s no denying the horoscopelike fascination of learning about genes that predict your traits…Who wouldn’t be flattered to learn that he has two genes associated with higher I.Q. and one linked to a taste for novelty? It is also strangely validating to learn that I have genes for traits that I already know I have, like light skin and blue eyes…I also have genes that are nothing to brag about (like average memory performance and lower efficiency at learning from errors), ones whose meanings are a bit baffling (like a gene that gives me “typical odds” for having red hair, which I don’t have), and ones whose predictions are flat-out wrong (like a high risk of baldness).

Read the whole thing.

Steven Pinker. “My Genome, My Self” New York Times Magazine. January 7, 2009

Video Interview with Stanley Lapidus of the PGP-10

MIT Tech Review published a video interview with Stanley Lapidus, founder and chairman of Helicos Biosciences and one of the PGP-10:

Stanley Lapidus is interviewed by MIT Tech Review

Audio from PGP Press Conference on Public Data Release

Harvard Medical School’s Office of Public Affairs has published an audio recording of the October 20th press conference where the PGP-10 discussed their individual decisions about public release of their genomic data.

Listen to mp3 here.

George Church on Ira Flatow’s Science Friday 2pm ET

George Church, founder of the Personal Genome Project, will be a guest on Science Friday with Ira Flatow, tomorrow at 2pm ET.

Details on how to tune in to this October 24th broadcast.

Update: Listen to the archived show now.

Press Conference Video Footage featuring the PGP-10

After an all day meeting of talks and discussion, the PGP-10 participated in a press conference. NECN has some video footage from that event:

Scot Yount. Researchers intend to build online DNA database. NECN, October 21, 2008.

Press coverage on the Personal Genome Project’s 2nd annual meeting at Harvard Medical School

The 2nd annual meeting of the Personal Genome Project was held at Harvard Medical School yesterday. Here is a round-up of articles thus far (updated 10/24/08):

Taking a Peek at the Experts’ Genetic Secrets” by Amy Harmon, The New York Times

Personal Genome Project Participants Get First Look at their DNA” by Carey Goldberg, Boston Globe

Subjects’ DNA Secrets to be Revealed” by Carey Goldberg, Boston Globe

Genome Fanatics to Post Own DNA Sequences on Web” by Denise Lavoie, Associated Press

Harvard Genome Volunteers Say They’ll Reveal Own DNA” by John Lauerman, Bloomberg News

Genomes on Display” by Emily Singer, Technology Review

Thousands Volunteer to Expose DNA Secrets to the World” by Ewen Callaway, New Scientist

Sharing Your Personal Genetic Map With the World” by Nancy Shute, U.S. News & World Report

A New Sort of Facebook: Posting Your Genes on the Web” by Sarah Rubenstein, Wall Street Journal blog entry

Genome Database Will Link Genes, Traits in Public View” by Ellen Nakashima, Washington Post

10 Bay Staters to Post DNA Online” by Sacha Pfeiffer, WBUR (NPR’s Boston affiliate)

Meet my genome: 10 people release their DNA on the Web” by Susannah F. Locke, Scientific American online

Personal genome sequences could herald a shift in research participation” by Erika Check Hayden, Nature News

Genetic Privacy: An Outdated Concern?” by Emily Singer, Technology Review

9 Volunteers in Harvard Study Agree to Post Their Personal Genomes Online” by David DeBolt, Chronicle of Higher Education

For the greater good, ten pioneers will post their genomes on the Internet,” Discover magazine blog post

Volunteers unveil DNA, medical data in push for everyday gene sequencing” by Alvin Powell, Harvard News Office

A Molecular Full Monty” by Ellen Goodman, Boston Globe

I’ll post commentary over the next week. Articles are also slowly being posted on the PGP news page. If I’ve missed any articles, leave me a comment or drop me a line.

Podcast about the Personal Genome Project via Harvard Medical Labcast

The Harvard Medical Labcast published a podcast today about the Personal Genome Project (PGP). Interviews include founder and professor of genetics at HMS, George Church; Jeantine Lunshof, ethicist for the PGP; John Halamka, PGP participant and HMS CIO; and myself.

To listen, please see:
Harvard Medical Labcast, Episode 6: Your genome, your future. [mp3 or subscribe via iTunes] The PGP-related material begins around the 9:30 mark.

Calling all enthusiasts: Misha Angrist talks personal genomes

Misha Angrist takes stock of a number of issues related to personal genomics in an article published today. Do people want access to their genomic data? Should people have access? What should they expect to discover from a genome sequence? What has been his experience thus far?

Misha also draws attention to one under appreciated aspect of obtaining a personal DNA sequence: there’s more to genomics than personalized medicine. Genomics might also be interesting and worthwhile even without obvious direct benefits.

“If you’re interested in medicine, you should talk to your doctor,” [George Church] says. “But if you’re interested in seeing a revolution close up and participating in research, then you should [be free to] mess around.”

Sober-faced enthusiasts may be the bootstraps necessary for the field of personal genomics to achieve lift-off. According to Misha:

“This is where we are in the era of personal genomics: some modest amusement, a few interesting tidbits, a bit of useful information, but mostly the promise of much better things to come. The more people are allowed–encouraged, even–to experiment, the sooner that promise can be realized.”

If amateur enthusiasts can make contributions to nuclear fusion (see video), why not personal genomics?

Read the article.

Misha Angrist. Personal Genomics: Access Denied? Even if we can’t interpret the data, consumers have a right to their genomes. MIT Tech Review. September/October 2008

See, Misha’s blog

See, PGP-10 profiles

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