Lecture: George Church – Future of Human Genomics and Synthetic Biology

by Alexey Bersenev on February 12, 2015 · 0 comments

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George Church is a remarkable figure of the modern molecular biology. He attracts a lot of attention by provocative claims and by his research findings. Interests of his lab spread from defining what is life to creating “genome-modifying drugs” for medicine. His main focus, however, is synthetic biology and genome engineering. His recent study on creation of “synthetic genetic firewall” for gene-modified organisms made a big buzz in the media. Many companies are hunting for him to offer “advisory board” positions. He gives a lot of public talks… If you’re really care about cutting edge science, you should follow him!

Some of my favorite quotes from his talk:

  • I’m highly conflicted
  • We have an affair with idea of the “natural” even though we as a spices are as “un-natural” as you can imagine
  • The time when new controversial technologies become uncontroversial is shrinking
  • Are we genetically engineering human beings? The answer is definitely!
  • We are getting to the point of another “new brave world” issue, where we can not only manipulate human genome, we can manipulate human brains – we can either program them in situ or we can build brains outside of the body…
  • Community is warming up to the idea of releasing gene-modified plants and animals into the wild
  • CRISPR genome modification – it’s so easy to do that even individuals may be able do it – so, now is a time to talk about it before we go much further
  • You can change as few as 4 mutations and organism to be >100 000 times more radiation-resistant
  • There people that have insensitivity to pain – you can engineer this – such as it could be turned on or off.

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