Finding genes in the human genome, Ewan Birney

Interviewee: Ewan Birney. For the first draft of the genome sequence, both teams were working to identify the number of human genes. Here, Ewan Birney, a "numbers man" from the public genome project, explains how genes can be recognized and the data from the genome project used. (DNAi Location: Genome > The project > Pieces of the puzzle > Finding genes)

We're writing computer programs that do that. In fact it's very similar to speech recognition software that people use in, in you know, other fields, say in the telephone industry. So it's very much like a recognition, we're trying to recognize now not parts of speech but parts of DNA that show you where the genes are. So genes start in a particular way and they end in a particular way, and we know some way about how they're put together in the middle. And so we kind of build a mathematical model of how a gene looks, using these techniques. What my job is, with people in my team, is to put together really the information about the human genome in a way that can be used. And so to do that we have to take the raw genome data and its, its assembly, and we have to store it and then we have to process it and then we have to give it to users, and those are mainly molecular biologists in the lab.

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