Academic journal article Genetics

Methods, Technology and Resources: Drivers of Discovery

Academic journal article Genetics

Methods, Technology and Resources: Drivers of Discovery

Article excerpt

With this issue we inaugurate a new section of Genetics for articles describing the development of novel methods, significant technological advances, and useful experimental resources.TheMethods, Technology and Resources section acknowledges-no, celebrates-the importance of methods and technology and experimental resources for driving discovery.

We strive to present in the pages of this journal advances in knowledge of the basis of genetic inheritance, variation, andexpression.That scopewouldseemto precludereports of methods and technology, because most such articles provide no insight into biological processes. But of course advances in knowledge are not possible without advances inmethodologyandtechnology.Thatmaximhasbeentrue since the beginning of experimental biology: Hooke could not have discovered the fundamental structural unit of organisms had van Leeuwenhoek not provided the means to magnify an image; Koch could not have revealed the basis of infectious disease had Pasteur not developed sterile technique. Fred Sanger's 1977 article describing a way to determine the sequence of nucleotides in DNA told us nothing about how organisms work, but no one would dispute the significance of that article.By enabling us to ask (and sometimes answer) questions about the mechanisms and meaning of life that formerly could not be posed, the impact of a methods article can be amplified many times over. Such articles deserve a place in these pages.

The development of new resources can have a similar impact on our science. If that were not already clear, it became obvious in this era of the genome. The genome sequences that have propelled our studies are resources rather than ends in themselves. Their availability allows us to do so much more than we could in the past. Close on the heels of the genome sequences came DNA microarrays, whole-genome mutant and gene collections, and whole-genome siRNA libraries. While the articles describing those resources tell us little about the organization and operation of life, the experiments these resources spawned speak volumes. Articles that describe important enabling resources that have potential for widespread use deserve space in our journal. …

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