Jay Shendure, MD, PhD
Associate Professor of Genome
University of Washington
ASHG: If you could go back to when you
were a trainee, what is one piece of advice you would give
yourself for your current career?
I'm pretty happy with how things turned out, so I probably
wouldn't advise my younger myself to do anything differently
lest it inadvertently turn out for the worse. That being
said, one thing that I do regret from graduate school is
that I didn't get out to more meetings (e.g. Biology of
Genomes, ASHG, etc.). It just wasn't the culture of our lab
to attend these, and probably I got more work done as a
consequence. But looking back I think that my perspective at
the time was much narrower than it might have been, and also
you realize over time what a social process science is, well
beyond the interactions within any one lab.
What are your favorite and least favorite parts of your job?
The parts of the job that still allow me to intersect with
the science are by far the most fun. This includes of course
interacting with my wonderful lab, reading and writing
papers, and believe it or not, writing grants. For better or
worse (and mostly for worse), there is a lot of
administrative overhead that comes with the territory
(meetings, conference calls, forms, budgets, etc.). It takes
a lot of effort just to keep such things from overwhelming
the more meaningful parts of the job.
ASHG: What do you think the future
holds for the field of genetics?
course the future of genetics includes sequencing millions
or perhaps billions of whole genomes but Iíll be
disappointed if generating and sifting through that data is
all our field is capable of. The exercise of gene finding is
a finite exercise or at least subject to the law of
diminishing returns. I think that we need to be increasingly
thinking beyond gene finding and onwards to connecting the
dots between genetic implication and functional
understanding. This is the case at the level of loci (e.g.
identifying causal variants underlying genome-wide
associations), genes (e.g. understanding not only that
mutations in gene X underlie a given phenotype, but also the
how and why of it), and variants (e.g. variants of uncertain
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