June marked the release of the first map of the human epigenome: the chemical markers that tell your DNA what to express when. “Think of the genome as the hardware in your computer and the epigenome as the software,” says Joseph Ecker, director of the institute’s genomic analysis laboratory. Such a map will help scientists see what causes some cells to become liver cells and others heart cells—or malignant cancer cells. Understanding these mechanisms could enable scientists to reprogram them for bioengineering or to reveal new triggers for disease.
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