Julia Karow | GenomeWeb | Mar 31, 2020
NEW YORK – Genomics has made a big leap forward over the past decade, both in terms of new technologies and clinical applications. While the first decade of the century was marked by the completion of the Human Genome Project and the advent of next-generation sequencing, the second decade saw new developments, including CRISPR genome editing and single-cell genomics, as well as the launch of population-based genome projects, the introduction of genomics into clinical care — particularly for inherited disease diagnostics and oncology — and the boom of consumer genetic testing, which also enabled novel applications in forensics.
To get a better idea of the most significant developments, in February GenomeWeb asked a number of prominent researchers in the field via email about their top picks for notable developments or achievements in genomics during the 2010s. Maybe unsurprisingly, their answers were colored by their own areas of study, reflecting the deep reach of genomics into many branches of research. However, several themes emerged from their responses.
One of the most frequent answers, even from those not directly involved in developing or advancing the technique, was CRISPR genome editing. Many thought of this as an “obvious” choice that needs no further explanation, given how pervasive the method has become in life science research. Designated as “breakthrough of the year” by Science in 2015, CRISPR “opened up new fields of precise gene editing, ultra-rapid diagnostics, and targeted therapeutics,” said Charles Chiu, professor in the Division of Infectious Diseases at the University of California, San Francisco.
Moreover, CRISPR enabled “new genome-wide functional genome screens and the construction of genetic cellular and animal models of disease at scales previously entirely out of reach,” said David Goldstein, director of the Institute for Genomic Medicine at Columbia University.
“Nowadays, it is hard to imagine a grant application or major research paper and molecular biology not applying this technique, or methodologies derived from this technique, at some stage,” said Jan Korbel, group leader and senior scientist at the European Molecular Biology Laboratory (EMBL) in Heidelberg.