This paper examines the model of network genomics pioneered in the late 1980s and adopted in the European Commission-led Yeast Genome Sequencing Project (YGSP). It contrasted with the burgeoning large-scale center model being developed in the United States to sequence the yeast genome, chiefly as a pilot for tackling the human genome. We investigate the operation and connections of the two models by exploring a co-authorship network that captures different types of sequencing practices. In our network analysis, we focus on institutions that bridge both the European and American yeast whole-genome sequencing projects, and such concerted projects with non-concerted sequencing of yeast DNA. The institutions include two German biotechnology companies and Biozentrum, a research institute at Universität Basel that adopted yeast as a model to investigate cell biochemistry and molecular biology. Through assessing these bridging institutions, we formulate two analytical distinctions: between proximate and distal, and directed and undirected sequencing. Proximate and distal refer to the extent that intended users of DNA sequence data are connected to the generators of that data. Directed and undirected capture the extent to which sequencing was part of a specific research program. The networked European model, as mobilized in the YGSP, enabled the coexistence and cooperation of institutions exhibiting different combinations of these characteristics in contrast with the more uniformly distal and undirected large-scale centers. This contributes to broadening the historical boundaries of genomics and presenting a thicker historiography, one that inextricably meshes genomics with the trajectories of biotechnology and cell biology. This essay is part of a special issue entitled The Sequences and the Sequencers: A New Approach to Investigating the Emergence of Yeast, Human, and Pig Genomics, edited by Miguel García-Sancho and James Lowe.
Yeast Sequencing: “Network” Genomics and Institutional Bridges
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Miguel García-Sancho, James Lowe, Gil Viry, Rhodri Leng, Mark Wong, Niki Vermeulen; Yeast Sequencing: “Network” Genomics and Institutional Bridges. Historical Studies in the Natural Sciences 1 June 2022; 52 (3): 361–400. doi: https://doi.org/10.1525/hsns.2022.52.3.361
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