Recorded: 14 May 2004
The real benefit, of course, using the human genetic sequence for the benefit ultimately of every individual. This does raise ethical questions. On the one hand there is potential medical benefit; the ability to predict problems, which are intrinsic in our genetic makeup earlier. To enable cures to be applied when they really need to be applied, or treatments at least to be applied when they can be applied early enough to really be effective or even preventative.
I think genetics can tell us a lot about ourselves that we don’t’ know already. Not only that perhaps we might be potentially at risk of a disease, but quite simply there’s a great deal we could do about it ourselves. It is perfectly true that our genetic makeup will tell us what we can do about our lifestyle and perhaps answer questions why some people seem to eat like horses and never put any weight on and others really need to be careful from early on. Childhood is the time to tackle many of these questions. Genetics can play a huge role, in health benefits, in education and, of course, in quite genuinely picking out pathways that really are disrupted in disease that we know nothing about at the moment. Once we do know we really can develop new targets and new ways of tackling those conditions.
David Bentley, molecular biologist and geneticist, is currently Vice President and Chief Scientist of DNA Sequencing at Illumina, Inc., a commercial developer of genetic analysis tools and systems.
Educated at the University of Cambridge (M.A. in biochemistry) and the University of Oxford (Ph. D.), Dr. Bentley was a postdoctoral fellow, lecturer, and senior lecturer at Guy's and St. Thomas's Hospital in London from 1991 to 1993 where he studied mutations that cause genetic diseases, and a Senior Lecturer in the Division of Medical & Molecular Genetics at the University of London.
In 1993 he was brought to Sanger Centre (now known as Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute) as a founding member and head of human genetics by his mentor, John Sulston. Dr. Bentley led Sanger in their major contributions to the Human Genome Project, The Single Nucleotide Polymorphisms (SNP) Consortium, and the International Haplotype Mapping (HapMap) Project. Dr. Bentley left Wellcome in 1985 to join commercial sequencer, Solexa, Inc., as Chief Scientist where he was responsible for the Company’s DNA sequencing applications development and projects. Solexa was acquired by Illumina in 2007.