Author Affiliations: Department of Epidemiology, University of Alabama, Birmingham.
A mere 53 years passed between the publication of Crick and Watson’s1 “Molecular Structure of Nucleic Acids: A Structure for Deoxyribose Nucleic Acid” and Gregory and colleagues’2 “The DNA Sequence and Biological Annotation of Human Chromosome 1,” which marked the completion of the Human Genome Project. This chapter from the history of genomic science is an inspiring testament to human innovation and invention, the full effects of which have yet to be realized. The consequences of other technological breakthroughs (from the agricultural revolution to the rise of industrial cities and all phases in between) are somewhat easier to assess and represent advances but are accompanied by challenges. However, 2 factors are certain about technological developments: first, each has in some way transformed the human environment, often drastically; second, most have occurred—on an evolutionary scale—quite recently and quite quickly. Thus, today, at the dawn of a genomic revolution, there is the potential to positively transform human health but in an environment that often threatens the health and economic security of our population.
Arnett DK, Claas SA. Preventing and Controlling Hypertension in the Era of Genomic Innovation and Environmental Transformation. JAMA. 2012;308(17):1745-1746. doi:10.1001/jama.2012.28747