(Images courtesy of Nature and the 1000 Genomes project)

This week brought another example of the exponential explosion in molecular biology. The Human Genome Project began in 1990, and took 13 years to sequence one human genome – the history is here.

Now what? The 1000 Genomes project, an international collaboration, has sequenced 1092 human genomes since  the project took shape in 2008. Indeed, much data was online by 2010, but now all the cell lines and data are open access information freely accesible to any researcher. The work is formally reported in the November 1, 2012 issue of Nature.

What did they do in more detail? "By characterizing the geographic and functional spectrum of human genetic variation, the 1000 Genomes Project aims to build a resource to help to understand the genetic contribution to disease. Here we describe the genomes of 1,092 individuals from 14 populations ….   

Look again at the change in pace. Thirteen years for 1 genome, and now about four years for 1092 genomes (with more to arrive soon). Imagine what’s ahead as more and more supercomputers are built and put to work on analysis of massive databases using tomorrow’s generations of sequencing and analytic software, augmented by existing pools of knowledge. Over time, quantum computing will start to arrive.  The Nobel Committee sees at least some of the possibilities ahead.  One thing is certain – research "in silico" will drive knowledge forward at exponentially faster rates. And pharma (large and small), governments and science leaders will continue to invest in science. Lawyers and clients should be thinking about the nature of Daubert hearings in five or ten years