A Conversation about High Throughput Sequencing and General Biology

In a recent keynote address at the High Throughput Sequencing for Neuroscience meetings, Sean Eddy from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute addresses the need for biologist to do their own sequence analysis. Although this talk was given by a neuroscience rather than an evolutionary biologist, the conversation is generally applicable to the entire biological community.

Favorite quotes:

“But if you’re a biologist pursuing a hypothesis-driven biological problem, and you’re using using a sequencing-based assay to ask part of your question, generically expecting a bioinformatician in your sequencing core to analyze your data is like handing all your gels over to some guy in the basement who uses a ruler and a lightbox really well.”

“If you learned to implement it in Perl — and you could do this in an afternoon, with a few lines of Perl code — I think you would find yourself endowed with a superpower, like Wonder Woman with her golden lasso of truth, and it’s a superpower that a biologist can use with surprising effectiveness on large data sets.”

Find the whole article here.

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One comment on “A Conversation about High Throughput Sequencing and General Biology

  1. mharve9 says:

    What is “it” in the second quote. If it’s “sequence assembly for a project”, this seems like an egregious mis-characterization. I’ve been working on my bioinformatics skills for over 3 years and it still takes me months of coding and re-processing before I’m satisfied with the result. This level of investment is not going to be possible for general biologists who only do sequence analyses as part of a larger research program. A certain amount of familiarity with sequence assembly is important, but I would say better and more transparent bioinformatics tools are perhaps the bigger gap.

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