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Why, Oh Y?
MIT NEWS OFFICE, Why, Oh Y?, Jan 01, 2015


After his first year of medical school, David Page spent the summer working in Ray White’s lab at the University of Massachusetts Medical School. “My project, using the technology of 1979, was to work toward and ultimately construct a genetic linkage map of the human genome,” he recalls. It would take many people many years to complete the task, but what Page found that summer would ultimately drive his entire research career.

“We were picking bits of the human genome absolutely at random from what was then the first library of the human genome, the Maniatis lambda phage library,” Page says. “I was literally picking—with a toothpick—lambda phage plaques that contained 15-kilobase segments of the human genome. And it turns out that one of my first toothpickings was of a lambda phage clone that contained a segment of DNA that derived from the human X and Y chromosomes.” Page has now spent more than three decades researching the Y chromosome, defending it against hypotheses that it was slowly disappearing, and demonstrating its role both within and now outside the reproductive tract. “[For] every experiment that we’ve done since, I can trace an unbroken line back to that toothpick.”

Read more at The Scientist