Skip to content

What we’re reading this month: November 2017

In between meetings, events, science workshops, and getting work done in the lab, Helix employees love finding a few minutes here and there to read. (A, C, G, and T might be our four favorite letters, but we actually like all of them.) Each month, we’ll be highlighting articles and books that catch our attention.
Have any recommendations of your own? Connect with us on Twitter and let us know.

“The most popular genes in the human genome”
Human DNA holds nearly 20,000 different protein coding genes, but they’re not all studied equally. Nature takes you on a tour of the 10 most researched human genes, highlighting among them the trends and discoveries that lead to their popularity (and sometimes Nobel prizes). Describing how societal pressures, evolving technology, and medical needs can help motivate research, the article gives you a glimpse of what research has been done—while also emphasizing how much we have yet to explore.

“The Very Different Ways Cardinals and Blue Jays Get Their Hues”
The Wall Street Journal
Color is an amazing thing. Our eyes sense the energy in waves of light and transmit that information to the brain, which then translates it into colored images. Equally amazing are the ways in which nature produces color. The Wall Street Journal describes two different mechanisms used by nature to give creatures their beautiful coloration.

“The Secret to Long Life? It May Lurk in the DNA of the Oldest Among Us”
The New York Times
Is the mythical fountain of youth coded in our genes? In this article, we learn how genetic researchers are exploring this idea by cataloguing the genomes of people who have lived exceptionally long lives, specifically those who have lived longer than 106 years. The research effort aims to detail genetic variations that could generate new insights into how DNA affects human aging.

“Harnessing ancient genomes to study the history of human adaptation”
Nature Reviews
This article dives deep into human history, detailing how genetics can teach us about our ancestors. Approximately 100,000 years ago, the predecessors to modern-day humans began to inhabit Eurasia. In the millennia that followed, humans would undergo a series of changes thought to be driven by adaptive evolution. Archeological and genomic data indicate that genetic variation may have enabled us to adapt to these changes, and may also shed light on what life was like during these transition periods.