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Saturday, April 12, 2008

Jim Kent Visits Fourmilab

Jim Kent Visits Fourmilab

Jim Kent, creator of Autodesk Animator, visited Fourmilab last Thursday. After becoming, like myself, disenchanted with Windows software development in the mid-1990s, he turned his interests toward biology, eventually earning a Ph.D from the University of California at Santa Cruz, where he is presently co-director of the UCSC Genome Browser project.

We talked barely at all about old times, because new times are so fascinating, especially in his field. I had not previously heard, for example, that analysis of the mouse genome has shown that much of the DNA repair mechanism present in mammals with a longer lifespan is “in wreckage” in the mouse, and that consequently tests of substances for mutagenic and carcinogenic effects in mice may have only dubious relevance to their effects in humans. (If you think about it, this makes sense—in an animal with such a short lifespan, the benefits of highly effective DNA repair are limited, and evolution is unlikely to conserve something which doesn't provide a selective advantage.)

Posted at April 12, 2008 04:43