ISCB-Asia/SCCG 2012 Keynote Address
Prof. Philip Green
University of Washington, Department of Genome Sciences

How much of the human genome is functional?


A central focus of genomic biology is to identify all genes, regulatory elements, and other functionally important features in the genome. Estimates of the total fraction of DNA that is under purifying selection are of interest inasmuch as they suggest the magnitude of the experimental effort that will be necessary to elucidate all functional elements. Over the last decade, analyses of mammalian genomes have led to the widely accepted view that at least 5% of the human genome -- 150 megabases -- is functionally constrained (the rest being 'junk'), and some recent estimates have been substantially higher. I will discuss a number of issues related to the notion of 'functional', and present several lines of argument suggesting that the correct value is much lower (100 MB or less).


Dr. Green's initial training and research was in mathematics, at Harvard College (BA 1972), Univ of California Berkeley (PhD, 1976), Columbia University (Assist. Prof 1976-80) and the Institute for Advanced Study (1977-78). He learned genetics and molecular biology in postdoctoral work at the Univ of North Carolina (1980-86), and since then has worked on computational methods for a variety of types of genome analysis including genetic linkage mapping, physical mapping, sequencing, and evolutionary analysis, at the biotechnology company Collaborative Research (1986-89), Washington Univ in St Louis (1989-94), and the Univ of Washington in Seattle (1994-present). His honors include election to the US National Academy of Sciences (2001), Fellow of the AAAS (2005), and a Gairdner Foundation International Award (2002).

Note from the conference organizer

Amongst many contributions to genome science, Prof. Green initiated and co-developed the base caller Phred.