Shankar Balasubramanian on decoding DNA March 8, 2022

from The Life Scientific· ·

Sir Shankar Balasubramanian is responsible for a revolution in medicine. The method he invented for reading, at speed, the unique genetic code that makes each one of us who we are, is ten million times faster than the technology that was used in the human genome project at the turn of the century. What’s more, it can be done much more cheaply than before and on a desktop machine. And it’s transforming healthcare, by helping us to understand the genetic basis of many diseases (particularly cancers) and to develop new diagnostic tests, medicines and personalised treatments. ‘DNA has never failed …



Sir Shankar Balasubramanian is responsible for a revolution in medicine. The method he invented for reading, at speed, the unique genetic code that makes each one of us who we are, is ten million times faster than the technology that was used in the human genome project at the turn of the century. What’s more, it can be done much more cheaply than before and on a desktop machine. And it’s transforming healthcare, by helping us to understand the genetic basis of many diseases (particularly cancers) and to develop new diagnostic tests, medicines and personalised treatments. ‘DNA has never failed to keep me excited and curious’ says Shankar, winner of the highly prestigious 2022 Breakthrough Prize in Life Sciences. He didn’t set out to create a game- changing technology or to make a lot of money. He just wanted to understand the DNA double helix in the greatest possible detail; to reveal how it worked, molecule by molecule. And he still rides a rickety old bicycle to work in Cambridge. Producer: Anna Buckley Image ©University of Cambridge