Every organism is born with a few mutations in their genome that differ genetically from both of their parents. Such changes in an individual’s genetic code create the diversity that allows nature to select advantageous traits that drive the evolution of a species.
The type of mutations and the rate at which they appear vary between individuals and species. Some researchers suspect that environmental factors cause most of this variation. Others suspect some of this variation has a genetic basis that might also affect cancer susceptibility, because cancer can be caused by mutations in affected organ cells.
The paper’s first author is Thomas A. Sasani, who was a postdoctoral student in genome sciences at the UW School of Medicine when he did the research. Sasani is now with Recursion Pharmaceuticals in Utah. Other authors include David G. Ashbrook, Lu Lu, and Robert W. Williams of the University of Tennessee Health Science Center; Annabel Beichman at the UW; Abraham A. Palmer of the University of California at San Diego; and Jonathan K. Pritchard of Stanford University.