They are very emotional, too, as Wasmuth discovered when his daughter became pregnant last year. Early ultrasound tests showed something in the fetus that might indicate a mind-destroying defect. Gene tests would settle the question, and Wasmuth's daughter sought his advice.
Wasmuth joined the latter group and set off for Southern Illinois University with medical school in mind. The path led through Purdue University and the Baylor College of Medicine, where a genetics professor took Wasmuth under his wing. Not surprisingly, medical school was eclipsed by an increasing interest in the clinical aspects of genetics, Wasmuth says.
There are 3 billion coding molecules in a complete set of human genes, and just one misplaced molecule can cause immense changes in human development. Researchers like Wasmuth search for that molecule by meticulously comparing the genes of afflicted people with the genes of normal people. Find the sequence in all the afflicted that is never seen in the normal, and you've solved the mystery.