See this recent Huffington Post blog piece by Jim Shapiro (University of Chicago), describing how he and Rick Sternberg (now at Biologic Institute) foresaw meaning in “junk DNA.”
Here’s an excerpt:
In 2005, I published two articles on the functional importance of repetitive DNA with Rick von Sternberg. The major article was entitled “Why repetitive DNA is essential to genome function.”
These articles with Rick are important to me (and to this blog) for two reasons. The first is that shortly after we submitted them, Rick became a momentary celebrity of the Intelligent Design movement. Critics have taken my co-authorship with Rick as an excuse for “guilt-by-association” claims that I have some ID or Creationist agenda, an allegation with no basis in anything I have written.
The second reason the two articles with Rick are important is because they were, frankly, prescient, anticipating the recent ENCODE results. Our basic idea was that the genome is a highly sophisticated information storage organelle. Just like electronic data storage devices, the genome must be highly formatted by generic (i.e. repeated) signals that make it possible to access the stored information when and where it will be useful.