Howard Jacob, PhD, who made the decision to sequence Nic Volker while heading the genomics center at Medical College of Wisconsin, said that back in 2009, DNA sequencing was a research tool. Now it’s a clinical tool.

“When we sequenced Nic, we had trouble getting published because everyone thought we were irresponsible,” said Jacob, now chief medical genomics officer at the HudsonAlpha Institute for Biotechnology in Huntsville, Ala. “Now, I’m not going to say it’s standard of care, but it’s becoming much more common.”

Nic Volker’s case marked a turning point in medicine. The long string of chemical bases that spells out our traits — from hair and eye color to the odds of acquiring many diseases — had been used to improve human health.

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