The Gene: An Intimate History

Join WSKG for an online screening  April 9th at 7 pm 

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Scientific genetics, little more than a century old, holds at once the promise of eradicating disease and the threat of altering the very essence of what it means to be human. “The Gene: An Intimate History” traces the dizzying evolution of this new science as researchers race to identify treatments for genetic diseases, such as cancer and sickle cell anemia, and to perfect tools for rewriting DNA. Guest Speakers:

Chris Durrance
Filmmaker

Dr. Maria Garcia-Garcia
Cornell University Associate Professor Molecular Biology and Genetics

Dr. Cedric Feschotte
Cornell University Professor Molecular Biology & Genetics

“The Gene: An Intimate History” brings vividly to life the story of today’s revolution in medical science through present-day tales of patients and doctors at the forefront of the search for genetic treatments, interwoven with a compelling history of the discoveries that made this possible and the ethical challenges raised by the ability to edit DNA with precision.  
The series uses science, social history and personal stories to weave together a historical biography of the human genome while also exploring the stunning breakthroughs in understanding the impact genes play on heredity, disease and behavior. From the story of the remarkable achievements of the earliest gene hunters and the bitterly fought race to read the entire human genome, to the unparalleled ethical challenges of gene editing, the documentary is a journey through key genetics discoveries that are some of the greatest achievements in the history of science.

A Geneticist’s Growing Season

What does a maize geneticist do? Explore the growing season of maize, and how scientists study the plant’s genetic diversity and connect it to the phenotypes they observe. Maize needs lots of sun and warm weather to grow. Seeds are usually planted in spring, in marked rows to identify each plant by its pedigree and genotype. In the mid-summer, when the plants are ready, scientists begin crossing the varieties of maize.

Maize: Feeding the World

Maize—or “corn”—has a history dating back to the beginning of agriculture, and today is used for everything from livestock feed and human consumption, to the production of starch, sweeteners, corn oil, beverage and industrial alcohol, fuel ethanol, and plastics. Maize is grown on every continent save Antarctica, and is the most widely grown grain in the world. Maize is also one of the most genetically diverse crops, allowing for selection from an incredible array of grain qualities and environmental adaptations. Maize is an excellent example of domestication—evolution in action—and researchers compare current varieties of maize with its wild ancestor, teosinte, to illustrate this principle. Maize was first domesticated from teosinte approximately 9,000-10,000 years ago.