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February 2005

Biotechnology Succeeds in Revolutionizing Medical Science

Arch Dermatol. 2005;141(2):133-134. doi:10.1001/archderm.141.2.133

Since ancient times, scholars have drawn charts of the constellations, maps of the world, and anatomical illustrations, and dermatologists have drawn illustrations and created wax moulages of cutaneous diseases. The origins of our field are morphological descriptions of cutaneous diseases. We catalog our collections of images of clinical diseases and their dermatopathology, and we show the images to each other.

In this century, a new chart was added to our collection of images: the map of the human genome. The geography of our genome is a graphic presentation of the methods, meanings, and implications of the complete human genetic sequence. Sequence analysis of individuals and families with disease phenotypes reveals causative mutations. Variations in genes can also cause individuals to respond differently to the environment as well as to medicines, allergens, chemicals, and toxins. The sequencing and analysis of the human genome may represent the world’s greatest stamp-collecting exercise. This issue of the ARCHIVES illustrates how dermatologists are using this “stamp collection” to benefit mankind and provides a dermatologic perspective on biotechnology, which is our theme for JAMA and the Archives family of journals this month. Our call for papers1 was answered by the international dermatologic community in 2 areas of research: bioimaging and genomics.