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When we talk about DNA sequencing, it is the relatively recent Human Genome Project and the so-called 'genomics revolution' which immediately come to mind. However, sequencing has a longer and more complex history which penetrates key issues of post-World War II biomedicine, such as the interplay of protein chemistry and molecular biology, and the growing interaction between biology and computing.
In Biology, Computing, and the History of Molecular Sequencing, the first academic history of sequencing, Miguel Garcia-Sancho follows the development of this form of molecular analysis to offer a new insight into the development of biomedicine during the second half of the twentieth century. Biology, Computing, and the History of Molecular Sequencing explores the emergence of the first protein and DNA techniques, the development of sequencing software and databases, and the commercialisation of the first automatic sequencers by the company Applied Biosystems. This vital historical perspective will allow both professionals and scholars to think rather differently about the emerging fields of bioinformatics and biotechnology, as well as the impact of biomedicine on modern society more broadly.
1. Introduction: An Historical Approach to Sequencing
PART I: EMERGENCE: FREDERICK SANGER'S PIONEERING TECHNIQUES (1943-1977)
2. The Sequence of Insulin and the Configuration of a New Biochemical Form of Work (1943-1962)
3. From Chemical Degradation to Biological Replication (1962-1977)
PART II: MECHANISATION – 1: COMPUTING AND THE AUTOMATION OF SEQUENCE RECONSTRUCTION (1962-1987)
4. Sequencing Software and the Shift in the Practice of Computation
5. Sequence Databases and the Emergence of 'Information Engineers'
PART III: MECHANISATION – 2: THE SEQUENCER AND THE AUTOMATION OF SEQUENCE CONSTRUCTION (1980-2000)
6. A New Approach to Sequencing at Caltech
7. The Commercialisation of the DNA Sequencer
8. Conclusions: A Long History of Practices
Appendix 1: Oral Histories
Appendix 2: Archival Sources
Miguel Garcia-Sancho obtained his Ph.D. at Imperial College London, UK, and has worked at the University of Manchester and Spanish National Research Council (CSIC). He is currently a Chancellor's Fellow at the Department of Science, Technology and Innovation Studies of the University of Edinburgh. His interests lie in the history and social studies of twentieth century biomedicine, as well as science communication and free-lance scientific journalism.