Celebrating 60 years since the DNA molecular structure was discovered
25 April is now known as International DNA Day. In 2013 it marks 60 years since James Watson, Francis Crick and colleagues published papers in the journal Nature on the structure of Deoxyribonucleic acid, or DNA. The discovery revolutionized science in many areas from health and medicine through to crime and led to a number of scientific advances.
Commenting on the impact of this discovery, Professor Ian Charles, Director of the ithree institute at the University of Technology Sydney, who spent his early career at the Laboratory of Molecular Biology in Cambridge UK where Watson and Crick worked, said:
“What a journey of discovery the last 60 years has been; what exciting innovations we have made; and what knowledge still lies ahead to be revealed. Unraveling the secrets of microbial genomes was the first area to benefit from the DNA and genome revolution — the first whole genomes sequenced were for RNA viruses and DNA phage in the 1970s, followed by the whole-genome of a bacteria in 1995 and the draft human genome just six years after that.
Today, with the ability to sequence multiple microbial genomes in a day, we are making important breakthroughs in our understanding of the complexity of the ‘microbiome’ (that is entire microbial populations) and the vital role that bacteria play — not just in disease but, more importantly, in health. Being able to read the DNA code is providing vital insight into the mechanisms by which bacteria become resistant to drugs — and this is helping us to address the challenge that antibiotic-resistant bacteria pose to modern medicine.”