David Haussler on Sequencing Technology
  David Haussler     Biography    
Recorded: 08 May 2012

It’s amazing – so sequencing itself is what is so extraordinary and you can turn sequencing technology into doing all kinds of different things so we – it’s not just looking at the actual DNA sequence, but it’s looking at transcription factor binding sites, it’s looking at modifications to chromatin that change the histones. It’s looking, even in our lab, we developed a method to do high frequent detection of RNA secondary structure with large-scale sequencing methodologies and, and it seems like every week somebody’s got a new trick that they can use high frequency sequencing to do some other type of molecular asset. I think it’s one of the most fertile technologies that’s ever come along in molecular biology.

The race to efficient sequencing is one of the most exciting technology races of – in the last hundred years. It really is incredible. But in terms of the raw numbers of improvement – it’s stunning. So we saw computers, which completely revolutionized society and science in every aspect, and they improved by a factor of two, every two years. The cumulative effects to that were unbelievable. You know two year – twofold improvement over two years may not have changed the world once, but if you continue to do that, then everything changes. But in the last eight years we’ve seen sequencing technology improve by tenfold every two years and that’s a cumulative improvement of ten-thousand times over the last eight years. Twofold every two years is a sixteen-fold improvement in computer technology; so, compare a sixteen-fold improvement in computer technology to a ten-thousand-fold improvement in sequencing technology and you see how extraordinary this economy is going. Sequencing technology is on fire. It’s an amazing, amazing industry. And it’s revolutionizing science and will revolutionize other parts, other parts of society.

David Haussler (born 1953) is an American bioinformatician known for his work leading the team that assembled the first human genome sequence in the race to complete the Human Genome Project and subsequently for comparative genome analysis that deepens understanding the molecular function and evolution of the genome. He is a Howard Hughes Medical Institute Investigator, professor of biomolecular engineering and director of the Center for Biomolecular Science and Engineering at the University of California, Santa Cruz, director of the California Institute for Quantitative Biosciences (QB3) on the UC Santa Cruz campus, and a consulting professor at Stanford University School of Medicine and UC San Francisco Biopharmaceutical Sciences Department.