The sequence of the human genome, completed in 2001, was supposed to quickly reveal the secrets of health and disease. Instead, it showed that human bodies are more complicated than anyone realized. Disease is usually caused not by one bad gene, but by subtle variations in dozens or hundreds of genes working with and against each other in vast networks.

This discovery delivered a reality check to genome scientist Eric Schadt. Pharmaceutical giant Merck had spent hundreds of millions of dollars...


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