whooly mammoth

105. George Church on Synthetic Biology, Climate Change and the SUPERHUMAN Genome Project

George Church

George Church @geochurch) is a professor of genetics at Harvard & MIT, director of the Personal Genome Project, co-author of 509 papers, 143 patent publications and developed methods used for the first genome sequence (1994) & million-fold cost reductions since.

It is NO exaggeration to say George’s innovations have contributed to nearly all “next generation” DNA sequencing methods and companies; plus his lab’s work on chip-DNA-synthesis, gene editing, and stem cell engineering resulted in founding additional application-based companies spanning fields of medical diagnostics and synthetic biology/therapeutics (all of which has led to the creation of over 14 biotech companies he’s helped co-found

George is the director of the IARPA BRAIN Project and NIH Center for Excellence in Genomic Science and his many honors include election to NAS and NAE and Franklin Bower Laureate for Achievement in Science.

George is the author of Regenesis: How Synthetic Biology Will Reinvent Nature and Ourselves and now spends his free time trying to revive the Wholly Mammoth to combat climate change and save the world while remaining the foremost pioneer in the future of synthetic biology and genetic engineering.

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In today’s episode we discuss:

  • The beginnings of the Human Genome Project and why in a lot of ways George thinks it was a waste of money
  • The future of genome sequencing and writing and where it’s headed
  • Why George isn’t hugely worried about genetic engineering leading to greater inequality
  • What scares George most in a world of synthetic biology
  • Why the best solutions to climate change are inevitably bio-based
  • How George’s team is working to revive mammoths to combat climate change
  • The importance of being guinea pig number one
  • Why we should be inspired but not limited by nature
  • The real risk of bioterrorism
  • How to get benefits from your DNA without exposing your results
  • The importance of gene editing on getting humanity to space


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