Eric Lander: The great amplifier  pg. 7

“So once you have a sequence of the human genome, you can then ask, ‘How does (this tumor) differ amongst 400 lung cancers?’ And in each case you are comparing it to the normal genome that the person started with.

“There’s background noise; there are (random) changes that occur. But… if you see a gene mutated 10 percent of the time, that’s no accident,” Lander says. “It must be playing an important, causal role. So by simply collecting enough data, the genome should be willing to tell us which genes matter.”

Lander shrugs off criticism that The Cancer Genome Atlas project is too expensive or simply can’t be done. The proposed cost would be less than 3 percent of National Cancer Institute’s budget, he notes. And, the technological hurdles will be overcome. The important thing is to nurture visions of what might be.

“What’s the biggest product of this place? It’s scores of people who have come out of the genome center and the Broad Institute who… (are) willing to work together, to do the heavy lifting necessary to change the world,” Lander says.

“It’s faith, a confidence that the way to change the world is to get information and tools into the hands of as many people as rapidly as possible.”

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