Abstract: Series 111, Lecture 3

The Harvey Lectures Series 111 (2015—2016)

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Lecture #3: Thursday, January 21, 2016 — Watch Video of Lecture

Engineering Genomes, Organs & Ecosystems

George Church, PhD

George Church, PhD

Professor of Genetics

Harvard Medical School

Boston, Massachusetts

Dr Church's Website

Bio-technologies are advancing exponentially faster than even the electronics revolution. We have helped to bring down the cost of sequencing from $3 billion for a haploid human genome to less than $800 for a diploid genome. Quality has improved from one error in 1000 bases to one per billion. We can now obtain human haplotypes that stretch from tip to tip of each chromosome and can identify the identity (and quantity) of any/all RNAs in situ in complex tissues at high microscopic resolution (using FISSEQ). Similarly, we have lowered DNA synthesis costs from $600 to $0.0001 per base and improved our ability to genomically or epi-genomically engineer genomes from one at a time to over 100,000 at once (using MAGE and/or CRISPR). The these new methods enable applications: 1) determining causality of DNA variants of unknown significance (VUS); 2) development of increasingly physiologically accurate (even patient-specific) human organoids in ex vivo culture (as well as xenotransplantation); 3) gene drives which can spread through populations of invasive species pests or disease vectors (for example malaria mosquitoes).