Why CRISPR May Be the Most Important Thing to Happen on the Planet in 4.5 Billion Years

This Gene-Editing Technology Promises to Revolutionize Medicine, Spark Ethical Debate, and Might Even Bring Woolly Mammoths Back to Earth

Bringing extinct species back to life may sound like science fiction, but it’s a real thing—perhaps the most important to occur during the past 4.5 billion years. Called “de-extinction,” the resurrection of lost species is one of the many applications to be revolutionized by the new gene-editing technology CRISPR-Cas9. CRISPR, which stands for “clustered regularly interspaced short palindromic repeats,” hit the headlines in October when researchers Jennifer Doudna and Emmanuelle Charpentier were awarded the Nobel Prize for chemistry for their role in developing a new technique for genetic editing. CRISPR …

Modern Ideas About Genes Were Conceived in 18th Century Asylums

Long Before Mendel Bred His Peas, Doctors Claimed Heredity Explained Madness

Sitting at my desk, reading the archived pages of an old British anthropological journal, an entry from 1899 caught my eye. The police at New Scotland Yard had a “Central …

Do Genes Really Determine Your Hobbies, Relationships, and Voting Habits?

Science and Pop Culture Make DNA Seem All-Important, But Nurture Still Matters as Much as Nature

Over the past 25 years, we’ve become surprisingly comfortable with the idea that genes play a large role in our lives. When DNA is in the mix, people assume that …

Why Fruit Flies Are the New Lab Rats

These Quick-Breeding Insects Have Similar Genetic Cellular Functions as Humans

Set out a bowl of fruit, and they will arrive: small, buff-colored flies with garnet eyes and an attraction to fermenting bananas. Annoying but not harmful, they are easy to …

Designer DNA Isn’t Just for ‘Designer Babies’

Dystopian Imagery Makes It Hard to Assess the Perils and Promise of Gene Editing

When we talk about gene editing technology, we often talk about—but almost never deeply consider—the concept of designer babies. Consider this article in The New York Times, titled “Gene Editing …

Why Scurvy Is Still a Snake in Our Nutritional Lost Paradise

To Absolve Mankind’s Genetic Original Sin, Drink Your Orange Juice

At some time in the evolution of the human organism, the gene that had allowed the body to synthesize vitamin C mutated, and the liver enzyme responsible for the synthesis …