Winning the race to find BRCA1, Mark Skolnick

Interviewee: Mark Skolnick. Mark Skolnick discusses how luck was a major element that helped his team win the race to find and clone BRCA1. (DNAi Location: Applications > Genes and medicine > Gene hunting > The finish line Factors in winning)

People wonder what were the elements that allowed us to win, and I think of course in any race like this there is a large element of luck - which gene you choose to look at first, compared with which gene you put later on in the stack, whether the families you have have changes that are going to be revealed by that gene or, or not. A lot has to do with the quality of the team, a lot has to do with the approach that you took. And we took an approach that used what are called bacterial artificial chromosomes, or BACs, where some of the competitors used yeast artificial chromosomes, or YACs, and as fate would have it, there was a hole, not well covered by YACs, where the BRCA1 gene was, and it was covered by BACs. So were we lucky that it was covered by the reagent we chose to use, are we, were we smart in choosing a reagent that covered the gene? Is the cup half full, is the cup half empty?

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