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Engineering Life: Cutting Edge Techniques for Altering the Genome

Sunday, June 1, 2014
4:00 pm - 5:30 pm

In several groundbreaking studies researchers are creating new genomes inside of bacteria, testing the very limits of genetic engineering and literally creating new letters for life’s alphabet. How do researchers modify A, C, G and T? How do they create life beyond the code we know? What are the consequences?  Geneticists George Church and Farren Isaacs share their latest work and discuss the cutting edge developments in genetic engineering.  What are the risks involved in creating entirely new genomes? Who should regulated this research, and how?

The World Science Festival’s annual salon series offers in-depth conversations with leading scientists, extending the discussion of the Festival’s premiere public programs to graduate students, postdocs, faculty and well-informed members of the general public.

This program is part of the Big Ideas Series, made possible with support from the John Templeton Foundation.


Emily SenayPhysician Journalist

Emily Senay is a physician, medical and public health educator, broadcast journalist, and author. She is an assistant professor of Medicine in the Department of Preventive Medicine at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai and a clinician in the World Trade Center Health Program in New York City.

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George ChurchGeneticist

George Church is professor of genetics at Harvard Medical School and director of PersonalGenomes.org, providing the world’s only open-access information on human Genomic, Environmental, and Trait data (GET). His 1984 Harvard Ph.D. included the first methods for direct genome sequencing, molecular multiplexing, and barcoding.

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Farren IsaacsGeneticist

Farren Isaacs is assistant professor of Molecular, Cellular and Developmental Biology and Systems Biology at Yale University. He pioneered the development of synthetic RNA molecules capable of probing and programming cellular function.

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Paula AmatoReproductive Endocrinologist

Paula Amato is an associate professor of obstetrics and gynecology at the Oregon Health and Science University who specializes in reproductive endocrinology and infertility. Some of her research explores the ways to reprogram aged, differentiated cells into pluripotent cells that can give rise to any cell type.

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Sheldon KrimskyPhilosopher of Science, Bioethicist

Sheldon Krimsky is a professor of Urban & Environmental Policy & Planning as well as adjunct professor of Public Health and Community Medicine at Tufts University. From 2012 to 2014, he is also a professor of philosophy at Brooklyn College, CUNY.

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Jef BoekeGeneticist

Jeff Boeke is the director of the newly founded Institute for Systems Genetics at NYU Langone Medical Center. He is leading an international team whose goal is to synthesize an engineered version of the yeast genome.

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