On May 27, 2008, it was announced that Dr. Marjolein Kreik recently became the newest member of a very exclusive group of people. Thanks to a group of geneticists at Leiden University Medical Centre located in The Netherlands, Dr. Kreik is now the fifth person to have her DNA sequence determined. What makes this event even more notable is that she is the first woman— as well as the first European—to have had her DNA sequence confirmed. The first person to have their DNA sequence determined was James Watson, discoverer of the DNA double helix. His sequence was analyzed in 2001.
The initial sequencing of Dr. Kreik’s DNA took six months to complete and cost approximately $40,000. Up until this point, only men have had their DNA decoded so geneticists have only been able to study male DNA sequencing. With the completion of Dr. Kreik’s sequencing scientists now will be able to study more about DNA variations of the double X chromosomes, which all women possess. However, Dr Kreik’s complete DNA sequence still needs an additional six months of in-depth analysis before it can be validated.
Many complete DNA sequences have been established on animals, plants, and microbial genomes. Later this year, Harvard University researchers plan to commence a large-scale DNA sequencing of 100,000 people. The project, which is partially funded by Google, will initially cost $50 million and will encompass people from the U.S., UK, China, and Sweden. Scientists hope that by decoding the DNA from so many individuals, scientists will be able to learn more about the causes of disease, our genetic weaknesses, and also how to prevent and treat these vulnerabilities.