Genetic science has advanced rapidly. It is now possible to draw a map of any individual's genetic map.
The government is announcing a project in the NHS that will sequence the genomes - the genetic codes - of 100,000 people.
Doctors say the investigation will transform the treatment of cancer and other diseases.
Sir John Bell, Professor of Medical Sciences at Oxford University and a government adviser on genetics, told the Today programme: "What's happened over 50 years has given us some remarkable insights into disease.
"We're now getting to the point where the use of genetics in patients can actually help us deliver medicines and understand cancer much better, [and] to understand a range of diseases in a much more precise way."
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