The cost of gene sequencing is dropping even faster than Moore’s Law, halving every four months. And the new technique of Massively Parallel Sequencing is vastly increasing the amount of genetic information that we can collect. Soon, we’ll all have our DNA routinely sequenced and analysed for various characteristics. Paternity secrets will be impossible to keep! It’s just a matter of time until we let the genie out of the bottle.
BBC 4 science presenter and geneticist Dr Adam Rutherford looks at the implications for sex, paternity, medicine, weight control, food, species restoration and perhaps even human survival in a five-part discussion series broadcast by RNZ: Gene Genie.
The New Age of Genomics | 4pm 8 May and 9pm 10 May
Dr Adam Rutherford discusses what advances in DNA sequencing might mean for sex, species design and resurrection, and perhaps even human survival with Associate Professor Peter Dearden, Genetics Otago, Associate Professor Susan Morton, Director of the University of Auckland Growing up in New Zealand study and Associate Professor Colin Gavaghan, Director of the New Zealand Law Foundation Centre for Law and Policy in Emerging Technologies at the University of Otago
Recorded at Embassy Theatre, Wellington for the New Zealand Festival Writers Week on 13 March 2016.
Family and genealogy | 4pm 15 May and 9pm 17 May
Dr Adam Rutherford discusses genealogy and family issues with University of Otago Professors Lisa Matisoo-Smith, Stephen Robertson and Hamish Spencer
Recorded at the Tauranga Yacht Club on 21 March 2016.
Genetics and health | 4pm 22 May and 9pm 24 May
Dr Adam Rutherford discusses medical genetics and epigenetics with University of Auckland and Auckland DHB researchers Dr Don Love, Dr Rinki Murphy and Professor Cristin Print
Recorded in Auckland at the Museum Events Centre on 22 March 2016.
Genetics and disease | 4pm 29 May and 9pm 31 May
Dr Adam Rutherford discusses the genetics underlying disease with Professor Vicky Cameron (Christchurch Heart Institute), Professor Nigel French (Massey University) and Professor Parry Guilford (University of Otago)
Recorded at Aurora Centre, Christchurch on 15 March 2016.
Conservation genomics | 4pm 5 June and 9pm 7 June
Dr Adam Rutherford discusses ancient DNA and conservation genomics with University of Otago researchers Dr Catherine Collins, Professor Neil Gemmell and Dr Michael Knapp
Recorded at St David Lecture Theatre, Dunedin on 17 March 2016.
Inside science | New Zealand Festival Writers Week 2016
Adam Rutherford explored possible answers to our biggest scientific questions with Simon Morton, RNZ.
Recorded at Embassy Theatre, Wellington for the New Zealand Festival Writers Week on 12 March 2016.
BBC Inside Science
Listen to Adam Rutherford on his BBC Radio 4 Inside Science show Solar farm, Gravity machine, Kakapo talking to Associate Professor Peter Dearden about the Kakapo gene sequencing project to sequence the genes of every single living Kakapo – a world first for a species – during his recent trip to New Zealand (item from 18 mins 45 secs).
Dr Adam Rutherford is presenter of BBC Radio 4’s Inside Science. With a background in genetics and evolutionary biology, he has presented many TV documentaries, including award winning Playing God, The Gene Code and The Cell. He has been a scientific adviser on several movies and to musician Bjork. His book Creation: The Origin of Life/The Future of Life was shortlisted for the Wellcome Trust Book Prize. Adam is an honorary Research Fellow at UCL and a former Editor at the journal Nature.
Genomics is now the HOT research topic in biology and medicine, and promises much. Even the genome of our closest relative, the Neanderthal, has now been sequenced. We know exactly which bits we have inherited from interbreeding with them, and what they code for, including Diabetes Type 2, Lupus, addictive behaviour, Crohn’s Disease, and on the plus side, stronger skin and hair. Women with mutations in the BRCA 1 & 2 genes now have the chance to prevent breast and ovarian cancer. New flu strains, and plant diseases such as PSA, which cost the country hundreds of millions of dollars, are quickly sequenced to find out what we’re dealing with and how they can be treated … speed is of the essence. Using genomics, New Zealand researchers were able to track down the major source of campylobacter infected chicken, which was responsible for 40% of human infections. A new study underway will identify the genes that predispose people to eat too much. It sounds like we already know a lot about our genetic make-up, but still, a large part of the human genome remains “dark matter”. Our 21,000 genes constitute a mere 1.5% of our genome. The rest is not redundant junk as previously thought, but includes the DNA that controls and determines which genes are switched on and off and orchestrates their behaviour. Breaking the WWII German Enigma Code is nothing to the bioinformatic challenge before us. But it’s just a matter of time when thousands, if not tens of thousands, of scientists are working on the problem. What potentials and challenges will this present us with when we inevitably decipher the genome? What will the implications be for health, agriculture, species restoration, justice, education, love, reproduction, and perhaps even human survival?