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Podcast: Geneticist George Church on the future of synthetic biology

| | April 11, 2018

George Church’s Harvard lab is one of the most celebrated fonts of innovation in the world of life sciences. George’s earliest work on the Human Genome Project arguably pre-dated the actual start of that project.

Much of George’s most recent and celebrated work has been with a transformationally powerful gene-editing technique called CRISPR, which he co-invented. George and I discuss CRISPR and its jarring ramifications throughout this week’s edition of the After on Podcast.

We begin by discussing genetic sequencing. “Sequencing” is a fancy (and rather cool way) of saying, “reading.”

George and I next discuss gene editing. As the word suggests, editing the genome of a person, bacterium, or virus involves changing some of its letters.

The third thing we discuss is DNA synthesis. Specifically, the creation of relatively small, customized units called “oligos.” These are short sequences of DNA, which typically run from a couple dozen letters to a couple hundred letters long.

Our fourth topic is DNA assembly. This is the process of stringing those oligos together into long strands.

So that’s the table of contents of the first half of our interview: Sequencing, editing, synthesis, and assembly. With those foundations in place, George and I then talk about the astounding things that this integrated set of rapidly improving, and mutual reinforcing fields are enabling.

Read full, original post: The astounding present and dizzying future of synthetic biology

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