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Duplicate genes are becoming a powerful tool to investigate what makes us human. Sometimes one chromosome will acquire more than one copy of a particular gene during cell division and other genetic processes. Over many generations, gene duplications - also called copy-number variants - can accumulate in the DNA of a species.

Now that the genomes of humans and other primates have been sequenced, scientists can spot, count, and compare gene duplications among primates and explore how copy-number variants might affect a species’ biology. This Human Bulletin features a new study from researchers at the University of Colorado Health Sciences Center and Stanford University, who scrutinized differences in gene duplication among nine primate species.