foreword Biology’s Love Aﬀair with the Genome
Postgenomics is the unavoidable consequence of an intense love aﬀair
between biomedical scientists and the human genome. The discovery of
the double- helical structure of
in 1953 lit the flame. The breathtaking
rapidity with which this discovery lead to the entrenchment of the cen-
→ protein), the cracking of the ge ne tic code, the
emergence of ge ne tic engineering technology, and the early understanding
of Mendelian diseases created an expectation of exponential increases in
our ability to mea sure and interpret
compulsions of many scientists: mea sur able, discrete, molecular (yet ap-
parently integrative), deterministic, and evolvable. If a little
was good, then a lot— the genome— would be great. With the prospect of
greatness, reasonable people are prone to hyperbole: save money, develop
cures, predict disease, learn about our ancestors, and bring justice to all. It
can be hard to judge harshly someone in love.
But even the most intense love aﬀairs simmer and require nurturing.
The breakneck speed of the courtship slows to a more reasoned set of dis-
cussions, negotiations, and settings of expectation. Some love aﬀairs do
not survive these adjustments, but others transition to a lifelong shared
adventure. Postgenomics commences with an inventory of the successes
and disappointments of the genome; we lift our heads, look around, and
ﬁgure out what the future holds.