When we came back to Ireland in 1990, I secured a job doing a particular/peculiar class of research involving the analysis of DNA and protein sequences. You may like to have a quick refresher of how the genetic code works. It was interesting and intellectually challenging and hinged on the fact that genes of low-to-mid-range expression used 'codons' (the DNA triplets that code for particular amino acids in proteins) more or less indiscriminately while highly expressed genes use a biased subset of codons and you can use this to infer the expression level of an unknown gene. Almost all microbes had such an expression pattern but each species used its own characteristic subset of codons in its highly expressed genes. It was canny enough in its day, the data was patchy before mega-genome sequencing kicked in ten years later. You had to work hard and read a lot to make sense of the data and find the signal in amongst the noise. But we helped set the ground-rules for the field of synonymous codon usage research. I've had three good ideas in 40 years of science, and one of them came out of that project. I'm not making any such bigging-me-up claims for my 30-years-ago research on domestic cat genetics that came back to the spotlight for 15 minutes on Tuesday.
I hasten to say that I was too thick to appreciate at the time how this codon