Steve Cole - Social Regulation of Human Gene Expression
Relationships between genes and social behavior have historically been viewed as a one-way street, with genes in control. However, recent research has discovered broad alterations in the expression of human genes as a function of differing socio-environmental conditions. Dr. Cole will summarize the developing field of human social genomics and its efforts to identify the types of genes subject to social regulation, the biological signaling pathways mediating those effects, and the genetic polymorphisms that modify their impact. These findings provide a concrete molecular perspective on the pathways through which extra-organismic social processes interact with individual genomes to shape development, health, and behavioral trajectories.
Yaniv Ehrlich - The Future of Consumer Genomics
Consumer genomics is transforming human genetics. Nearly 30 million individuals have purchased a consumer genomic test, most of which reside in the US. With their affordable prices, these tests democratize access to genetic information, and allow participants to expose their past and reveal predisposition for various conditions, in the comfort of their own home. This model has led to unexpected societal aspects, from the realization that family secrets can no longer kept secret, via using these databases to capture serial killers, to the debate about the role clinicians should have in contextualizing the results to participants. In this talk, I will present the development and challenges of consumer genomics, its interface with mainstream clinical genetics, and survey the potential horizon of these tests.
Steven Benner - Re-synthesizing Biology
Professionals, students, and laypeople alike all know of the DNA double helix, taught in middle school as the ideal way of storing and transmitting information needed for biology. In fact, DNA is both constrained and defective for these roles. Dr. Benner will summarize the field of synthetic biology where new and improved versions of DNA are created and used to build new platforms to support Darwinian evolution. Research programs within this field have created new semi-synthetic life forms as well as providing new insight on how life on Earth arose. Further, synthetic genetics supports new clinical tools to detect infecting pathogens, follow genetic progression in the immune system, and deliver new therapeutic agents.