Blueprint, a broken metaphor?

Three things came together that made me write this post: observing an increased discussion of the blueprint metaphor in genetics and genomics around the publication of a book called Blueprint, reading an old article by George Gamow, and reading a footnote in a forthcoming book by Philip Ball entitled How to Build a Human. The …

Genome editing, metaphors and language choices

Genetic Alliance and the Progress Educational Trust recently published a report entitled ‘’Basic understanding of genome editing”, based on research supported by the Wellcome Trust. As I have worked on metaphors relating to genetic, genomics and genome editing for more than twenty years, I was particularly interested in this report. Unlike many other publications, including …

Gene editing, metaphors and responsible language use

Last week I was following the progress of the International Summit on Human Gene Editing, which took place in Washington between 1 and 3 December, 2015. On the last day, I was looking at my twitter timeline and saw that Megan Allyse (a former PhD student) had posted information on a special issue devoted to …

The book of life: Reading, writing and editing

I have been observing the use of the ‘book of life’ metaphor in genetics and genomics since the year 2000, when it was used to announce that the human genome, our entire DNA, had been roughly sequenced. The Human Genome Project had begun in 1990 and was completed in 2003. Its achievement consisted in finding …

Dark matter: A mystery metaphor that turns genomic junk into gold

I have become intrigued by a new metaphor, most recently used in an interesting Aeon Magazine article. The authors state that the human genome can’t be, as was so long assumed, a blueprint for building a human being, as “science has served up the confounding paradox that the bulk of our genome appears to be …