The $50 genome in 2014?

By Razib Khan | January 11, 2011 10:53 pm

John Hawks notes the MacArthur-Herper debate on the “$1,000 genome”, and responds, Genomes too cheap to meter:

….In it, he notes the comments of several professionals that the $1,000 number itself is not an important fact, it is the availability of sequencing within that order of magnitude.

The inevitability of the $1000 genome has already made it irrelevant. We should expect a $1000 genome announcement this year. This will be hype, because the real $1000 genomes won’t be here until…next year! Before the end of 2014, whole genome sequences at 4x coverage will cross the $100 mark. I think there’s a good chance they will be less than $50 at that time.

Based on numbers I’ve seen, those numbers are around six months optimistic. Geneticists are already planning projects anticipating $100 genomes — some suggest that the next big project should be a “Million Genomes”, because there isn’t any sense bothering with a hundred thousand.

He concludes:

Put these things together, and personal genomics today is where personal computing was in 1973. We haven’t yet had an Altair, much less an Apple 2. But it’s almost in reach. Quasi-professional hobbyists can cobble together data using primitive tools, and carry out the same analyses as postdocs. Sequencing costs falling by an order of magnitude every other year. The state of the art in interpretation totally free for the trained, with applied genomics and synthetic biology as growing industries. Genomes may not be literally too cheap to meter, but they’ll certainly be, as George Church has suggested, free with additional purchase.

Mind boggling. I’ve been writing about genes on the internet since 2002. It’s been a crazy 8 1/2 years.

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Genetics, Genomics

Comments (4)

  1. Heck, I’m probably just crazy.

  2. Geo

    Sounds promising!

  3. John, you’re not crazy. It’s Moore’s Law all over again .

  4. Eric

    But there are companies currently that sell genome sequencing for humans at $200 (sometimes on sale for $100) or am I missing something?


Discover's Newsletter

Sign up to get the latest science news delivered weekly right to your inbox!

Gene Expression

This blog is about evolution, genetics, genomics and their interstices. Please beware that comments are aggressively moderated. Uncivil or churlish comments will likely get you banned immediately, so make any contribution count!

About Razib Khan

I have degrees in biology and biochemistry, a passion for genetics, history, and philosophy, and shrimp is my favorite food. In relation to nationality I'm a American Northwesterner, in politics I'm a reactionary, and as for religion I have none (I'm an atheist). If you want to know more, see the links at


See More


RSS Razib’s Pinboard

Edifying books

Collapse bottom bar