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Welcome to my Wikipedia user page!

Stephen Chervitz Trutane is my official, legal name though it was originally Stephen Allen Chervitz, as described here. So you might know me as having the surname Trutane or as Chervitz, depending on what era of my life or circle of friends you know me from. I respond to either, so use whichever one you want. For simplicity, you can just call me "Steve".


By day, I'm a bioinformatics software engineer at Personalis, enabling better personalized medicine by providing tools to support research and clinical-grade interpretation of variations in individual human genomes. I also worked on genome analysis tools at Omicia and before that at Affymetrix where I helped annotate DNA microarray probe sets for end-user scientists via the NetAffx web portal. I came to Affy in Nov 2000 when it acquired Neomorphic, where I worked since Sep 1998. So computers and biological "omics" data are my friends.

I have a B.A. in biology from Macalester College and a Ph.D. from CU Boulder's MCDB department, working under Prof. Joseph Falke in the biochemistry department doing wet-lab molecular biology experiments on a chemoreceptor that mediates bacterial chemotaxis. I did ample amounts of site-directed mutagenesis and in vitro signal transduction assays, as well as 3D molecular graphics visualization and protein structure analysis and other fun stuff (like teaching myself C).

After Boulder, I shifted directions into the world of genomics (or post-genomics) joining David Botstein's lab (while he was at Stanford) working on the Saccharomyces Genome Database (S. cerevisiae was the first eukaryote to have it's genome completely sequenced, which happened in April 1996, about 3 months after I started with SGD). While at SGD, I developed lots of Perl modules for working with bioinformatics data and contributed most of this code to the open source BioPerl project, which was just getting started around this time.

I continue to stay in touch with BioPerl but am no longer doing active code development. I've also been involved in the BioDAS, GenoViz, and HCLS projects and still have a strong interest in these areas. I'm on the board of the FGED Society (since 2002) and have continued volunteering with them as their secretary and webmaster since 2010.

In my spare time, when I'm not having fun with my family, training for triathlons, promoting health and fitness, tweeting, blogging, or contributing to Wikipedia, I do what I can to help humanity with the organization I founded,, still largely a work in progress. Wikipedia, I feel, is well-aligned with the "promoting a shared understanding" goal of

Other online hangouts[edit]

Steve Chervitz Trutane in April 2012
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My Wikipedia story: When I was a kid I used to browse a physical encyclopedia (I think it was a World Book Encyclopedia ca. 1974), reading random pages here and there. One day when I was 13 or 14 years old, I came across a page that changed my life, specifically a section describing molecular biology. It blew me away that we humans have figured out the genetic code, a code that nearly all cells on earth use for creating proteins from DNA. My teachers had never mentioned the topic at all! The rest of my life has essentially been following up on what I stumbled up on that day, pursuing a Ph.D. and now working at a genome analysis company.

I've been contributing to English wikipedia sporadically for the past few years and enjoy the feeling that I'm creating a knowledge resource that will be read and augmented by others, and persist over time. Perhaps I will add content that will inspire someone else and alter the course of their life as mine was altered long ago by that static encyclopedia. It almost feels like I'm giving back to the encyclopedia gods that led me to where I am today. Sure, wikipedia has issues, but I have seen it evolve and self-correct over time via community input, keeping up with our evolving state of knowledge in real time -- and it's available worldwide via the internet for free. Awesome.

Wikipedia Contributions[edit]

Here are a few highlights of my contributions. This listing isn't necessarily current, so check here for what I've been up to.

I still consider myself to be cutting my teeth as a Wikipedia editor (though Wikipedia considers me established enough to edit some semi-protected pages, such as Barack Obama, which I have edited on occasion). Many of my Wikipedia contributions focus on my domains of expertise: Molecular and cellular biologyBioinformaticsGenomicsFunctional genomicsGenes

However, I have wide-ranging interests so you may find my edits outside these areas, in odd corners of Wikipedia.

Some pages I've created[edit]

Some pages I've contributed substantially to[edit]

  • Science
    • Genome annotation (I wrote a page related to this on the original Wikiomics site, now folded into OpenWetWare.)
    • Retrotransposon (Verified and added citation supporting claim that 42% of the human genome is made up of these buggers.)
    • Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act and Genetic discrimination
    • War on Cancer (I've greatly expanded this from stub state starting in Oct 2008. Continues to be a work in progress.)
      • I initially redirected it to Nat'l Cancer Act of '71, then decided it was better to redirect the other way around.
      • On 2 Oct 2009, I participated in the Lance Armstrong Foundation's "LIVESTRONG Day" by registering a virtual event where did my part to raise cancer awareness by inviting people to the WoC wikipedia page. Not sure if anyone noticed.
      • Some google stats on WoC searches as of 2 Oct 09: the WP page is now on the first page of results, though near the bottom. I take this as a sign of progress of my efforts, as the WoC page has usually been quite distant from the top when I've checked earlier this year. Total google WoC hits on 2 Oct 09: 45M (unquoted), 135k (quoted). Update 3 Nov 2009: WoC page is now #2 out of 47.5M total (unquoted) and #3 out of 327K (quoted). Hot topic! Update 13 Nov 2009: WoC page is now #1 out of 52.3M total (unquoted) and #2 out of 142K (quoted -- the previous 327k seems anomalous).
    • Gene expression techniques
    • Genetic disorder
    • Cancer and inflammation (discussion I had on a now-archived Cancer talk page with JFW and User:Franamax)
      • JFW is looking for more authoritative references describing a 'grand unified' theory for how inflammation relates to cancer before putting anything about it in the cancer article.
      • I think the cancer-inflammation field is rich enough that it deserves its own page & plan to create when I get a chance.
      • This would avoid provide a common, main article to link to from either cancer or inflammation.
      • Cancer article is quite big: 96kb as of 12 May 2012
    • FGED Society (Major re-write, page rename. Formerly known as 'MGED')
    • Affymetrix (My former employer)
    • Treatment of cancer (my proposal to rename this page from Management of cancer was approved... nearly 7 years after my proposal. I hope there were no cancer patients waiting on that change :o).
  • Non-science
    • Jack LaLanne
    • Joe Ranft (Added death section after watching Cars.)
      • Some of my original contribution on Joe's page has since been removed on the basis of being WP:OR or WP:POV. I'm not sure about this removal, since I'm pointing out a coincidental fact between the circumstances of his death and a major theme of the movie he was making when he died. Here's what I said: The road on which Joe died, Highway 1, is akin to Route 66 featured in Cars in the way it "works/moves with the land" (quote from movie). Meandering along the scenic California coastline, Highway 1 is a very much a road where appreciating the journey is as important as reaching one's destination, a theme of Cars. Maybe I'll bring this up on Joe's talk page.
    • Scat singing (In the "Origin" section, I added the Jelly Roll Morton quote from Alan Lomax interview.)
    • Cantillation and Hebrew language (Posted links to audio example of cantillation I uploaded to Wikimedia Commons. Had to convert the mp3 I got from Cantor Seth into Ogg format. A little tricky.)

Assorted contributions[edit]

  • Douglas Adams (Speculated on his talk page that that his 'trilogy of five books' joke derives from a Monty Python skit.)
  • Crips (Added statement and citations about the roots of gang activity in So Central LA. Important issue and article. Definitely could use expansion.)
  • The Jedi Code (Found it in one of my son's books I Am A Jedi by Qui-Gon Jinn and saw that it was not in -- or had been deleted from -- the Jedi page.)
    • OK, the code has been removed once again from the article. Not clear what's the beef. Here's the version of the article with the Jedi code as I added it.
    • The definitive article about the Jedi Code can be found in Wookiepedia.
    • My attempt to add the Wookiepedia citation to the Jediism article was reverted as being an unreliable source. However, being a wiki, Wookiepedia's reliability should improve over time, eh?
    • I still feel that the actual Jedi Code itself should appear in Wikipedia, perhaps on a dedicated page. It could cover alternative versions of the code has it has appeared in different places. One day, when the Force feels strong, I'll attempt it.
  • 'Ghouls' vs. 'Zombies' (see my 'Ghouls' sub-section on this archived page -- this discussion page gets archived a lot.)
  • Drupe (Minor update to include Cashew among the list of plants the produce drupes)
  • Septuple meter Added Led Zeppelin's "The Ocean," the main riff of which has one bar of 4
    and one bar of 7
    • This piece can also be counted as a single bar of 15
      , but that is not the most 'reduced' form towards which musical types seem to strive.
    • It was originally included in the "List of musical works in unusual time signatures" (MWUTS) page but got removed, probably because it lacked a decent citable source describing the time signature.
    • Researching this has revealed some insight into Wikipedia culture as it seems one Wikipedian decided to maintain the MWUTS page outside of Wikipedia after pushback from other editors regarding the reliability of sources. This person maintained his list at from May 2009 till April 2017. Here the last archived copy of it.
    • What's the lesson here? If editors feel the need to leave Wikipedia over disputes with other editors, that seems like a bad result indicating a problem with the system. Perhaps the author's contribution could have been maintained on a talk page or in his sandbox, or added to the article with a "citation needed" flag. As it is, Wikipedia lost the energy of a knowledgeable person -- an unfortunate outcome.
    • Btw, there are some interesting works listed on that MWUTS page, such as the progressive metal "Schism" in 6 12
      time (which must be an average of the various time changes in that song).


potential contributions

Wikipedia Picks[edit]

Some notable content I've come across in my Wikipedia travels. This is completely random and non-exhaustive. May grow over time... or not.

Images of note[edit]

Young Hare, 1502, Watercolour and bodycolour by Albrecht Dürer.
Unknown American football team ca. 1910. High-res.
Sculpture of a small stellated dodecahedron as in M.C. Escher's work Gravitation.
Kryptos sculpture at the CIA. Still working on the 4th message...
closeup of MetalMovableType showing pangram text: The quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog
Dirac delta function: equal to zero everywhere except for zero
Zoom sequence of the Mandelbrot set. Infinitely complex, yet based on simple principles, it took the modern computing era to discover it. Good vids: history and sciart
Knuckle mnemonic for the number of days in each month.

Pages of note[edit]

A mix of unrelated yet noteworthy topics.

  • SGR 1806-20 - "A starquake [on this magnetar] ... released more energy in one-tenth of a second (1.3×1039 J) than our sun has released in 100,000 years".
    • Lets hope this doesn't ever happen w/in 3 parsecs of Earth :-O
  • Psalter world map - "mysterious as parts of the world once marked with sea monsters and dragons by 13th-century mapmakers." ref
  • Canine cancer detection - Putting man's best friend's sniffer to medical use: "dogs can detect some substances in the region of parts per trillion..."
  • Talk page of Mansplaining - Amazing the amount of collective energy spent here. Probably no mansplaining taking place there, since most Wikipedians are men, you know ;).
    • Q: How does a mainsplainer get his water? A: Well, actually...
  • Nu metal - amazing amount of vitriol in the "Criticism and controversy" section, harkening the disco sucks backlash of the previous generation, and even ragtime backlash at the beginning of the 20th century, which got slammed both coming and going.
  • Brouhaha - helpfully offers some interesting examples so deemed.
  • Notable numbers: 4294967295 and 2147483647 (number) - How many numbers have their own wikipedia pages? Is that question even answerable?
  • Kármán vortex street as an explanation for the Dyatlov Pass incident
    • Personally, I'm leaning towards the infrasound explanation. I'd like to experience that natural phenomenon myself... in the daytime.
  • Man versus Horse Marathon - Seems like the horses shouldn't be handicapped by having to run with a human on their back,
    • or the humans should have to carry a heavy backpack.
    • Slate story mentioning this contest and describing the "runner" theory of human evolution: All Men Can't Jump
  • Phrases from The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy
    • Contains a classic Adams quote: "I may be a sorry case, but I don't write jokes in base 13."
  • Ray Dorset quote: "I should be retired, but my brain is like that of an 18 year old."
  • Anti-pattern - Quite a few of these, and not just for software engineering.
    • Great pedagogical value. I added some proposals to the Talk page.
  • Talk about Roseanne Barr's infamous tweet, and whether it warrants inclusion on Valerie Jarrett's page.
  • RMS Titanic - Sank on Tax Day 1912 (the year before US federal income taxes actually started), due to insufficient lifeboat passenger capacity stemming from "outdated maritime safety regulations."
    • Good example of what can happen when an industry moves faster than our ability to regulate it.
  • Does Anybody Really Know What Time It Is?
  • Immunotherapy includes helminthic therapy (i.e. infection with whipworms & hookworms)
    • Though the mechanism of how these helminths modulate the immune response, is unknown.
  • Matthew 5:5, the third of the Beatitudes ("blessed are the meek..."), contains an interesting linguistic note regarding the Greek word typically translated as 'meek':
    • it is not suggesting weakness but instead the way power is handled.
    • It is "strength under control". The English language does not have a word that translates conveying both gentleness and power together.
    • Makes one wonder how many other original terms used in the Bible are difficult to translate.

Users of note[edit]

Definitely not an exhaustive list here. There are tons of amazing Wikipedians out there. What follows is a teensy list of a few impressive folks I've just happened to catch my attention for one reason or another.

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