Miraglia, E. et al.
Studying genetic code is a key component of research in many branches of science, and while some scientists are content spending hours analyzing endless sequences, one genetic analyst has taken this to another level and can only write using A, C, G, and T.
Cat Tagat (formerly known as Andrea Porter), a genomic variant analyst, spends her days scanning sequences day in and day out, looking for disease-causing variants in genetic sequences, and avoiding contact with other people at all costs.
In recent years, Tagat’s unique expertise in analyzing genomes has given her a pass on completely neglecting any written components of her job. When we asked who writes up the reports of her findings, she pointed to her lab director, Dr. Alex Tran. “She just sends me an email with the sequences highlighted in the right places,” he explained.
Dr. Tran adds that they’re lucky his name starts with a T so that it pops up in her emails’ “To:” field.
“It’s impressive that someone with multiple degrees is able to become this specifically illiterate,” says linguistics expert Prisha Bhatti. “She can still speak English, but when she tries to write, she genuinely forgets that there are letters other than A, C, G, and T.”
Though Bhatti worries that Tagat will encounter future professional barriers if she doesn’t relearn the other 85% of the alphabet, she says it’s promising that Tagat can still communicate orally despite her limited interactions with other human beings.
“It’s ridiculous that our languages require so many units. People usually aren’t using all those frivolous letters to say anything of substance anyway,” said Tagat, startling her colleagues who hadn’t heard her speak for several months.
After her statement, Tagat promptly shooed us from her in-lab desk so that she could return her attention to Patient #37’s genetic code.