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Well, I was snubbed again this year and not asked to be a contributor to the Edge annual question. My mother always told me I was exceedingly bright but I am beginning to think she may have lied :-/

Even though I wasn’t asked, here is my answer…or at least the first one.

What Scientific Idea is Ready for Retirement? Genomics

On the morning of June 26, 2000 from the East Room of the White House, former president Bill Clinton, accompanied by Craig Venter and Francis Collins, announced to the world the completion of the first survey of the entire human genome. President Clinton proclaimed that “Without a doubt, this is the most important, most wondrous map ever produced by humankind.”

That statement may have been slightly exaggerated, just slightly. It was an impressive effort but highly flawed as we came to later learn and missing significant pieces. In fact, as it turned out, the work that was initially done by the much touted public-private consortium had little value in terms of improving our understanding of the causes of disease or for identifying meaningful human therapeutics.

Danny Hillis gave an excellent talk where he discussed that the genome is often described as the blueprint for producing an organism and how misleading that analogy is because a blueprint says how everything is connected and how the parts relate to each other.

He went on to discuss that the genome, or at least the part we understand how to read, is more simply like a list of parts along with limited control information on it about when different parts should be made, but we don’t know how to read most of that control information.

Too much time and money has been wasted in an effort to map something that will not provide the information necessary for us to diagnose what is going wrong in the system of an individual and the field of Genomics has produced little value in terms of saving, prolonging or improving the quality of life for humankind.

Proteomics is the future of medicine and our intellect, time and money should be directed there.