2020 55¢ Innovation – Genome Sequencing
Value: 55¢ 1-ounce First-class rate (Forever)
Issue Date: August 20, 2020
First Day City: Bellefonte, PA
Type of Stamp: Commemorative
Printed by: Banknote Corporation of America
Printing Method: Offset, Hot Foil Stamping
Format: Pane of 20
Quantity Printed: 14,000,000
If you've ever heard the word "genome," you may have wondered what exactly it means. This term is used in moledular biology and genetics and simply means the genetic makeup of an organism. Genomes are the tiny pieces of information that make up our DNA. These extremely small puzzle pieces are what make us human, and not some other species.
Scientists have been working to sequence (or "map") the genomes of different species since the 1970s. In fact, the first genome sequence was published by Walter Fiers of the University of Ghent, Belgium, in 1976. He successfully laid out the components of a virus called Bacteriophage MS2. The larger the organism, the more material there is to sift through to determine the exact genome sequence. The first animal to have its genome sequenced was a nematode worm (Caenorhabditis elegans) in 1998.
Early genome sequencing was done by hand. It was not until computer technology caught up that larger organisms could have their genomes completely laid out. In fact, it took until 2003 to completely map the human genome.
The possible uses for genome sequencing are infinite. Hopefully, one day we will be able to use genome sequencing to diagnose and treat harmful genetic conditions before a person even has symptoms.