Newswise — Back in April 2003, scientists proudly declared that the first human genome had been completely sequenced. The Human Genome Project had taken more than a decade and cost more than $3 billion, but researchers had a rough draft of the entire sequence of 3 billion letters of DNA. That long string of letters encodes the instructions for all the parts and functions of a living, breathing human being.

Since that heady day, biotech companies have raced to make sequencing faster and cheaper, so that it can be used routinely in medical care. The hottest entry to the market is the biotech company Ion Torrent and its Proton sequencing machine, which will soon be able to analyze an entire human genome in just a few hours at the bargain-basement price of $1000. Ion Torrent's "semiconductor sequencing" method builds on lessons learned from the computer industry.

To test the technology, and to learn about what the $1000 genome can offer patients, IEEE Spectrum reporter Eliza Strickland embarked on a quest to get herself sequenced. The results shed light on both her family's medical history and her own medical future.