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Thomas compares the genome to a library containing instructions for living organisms to develop. In this library, letters represent the base-pairs of the genetic code, book chapters represent genes, and books represent chromosomes. Although the sequence of the 3 billion letters of the human genome library is known, how they are organised into chapters and books remains poorly understood. By studying a chemical modification of histone proteins, around which DNA is wound, Thomas is trying to find an epigenetic index that orders the chapters and books of the genetic library. Knowledge of this index promises to aid in cancer diagnosis and treatment.