Will Modern Genetics Turn Us Into Gene “Genies”?

Recent Discoveries Hold Great Promise for Medical Advancement, and Great Peril for Social Equality

With the ubiquitous ways we apply our knowledge of genetics today—in crop seeds, medicine, space—it’s hard to believe the story of the modern gene did not emerge until the mid-1800s. The vast implications of this discovery about how living things hand down traits to offspring have spanned the range of enlightening to horrifying, from Darwin’s theory of evolution to Nazi eugenics. Technology has enabled us with relative swiftness to move beyond test tubes to actual human cells in manipulating organisms and their genetic materials. Recent discoveries such as the new …

How Much of Mental Illness, or Brilliance, Is Hereditary?

The Gene: An Intimate History

Race and identity, sexuality, temperament, and even free will. Siddhartha Mukherjee tackles these themes in his newest book The Gene: An Intimate History, weaving the pattern of schizophrenia in his …

Molecular Biologist J. Craig Venter

He Feels the Need for Speed (on the Racetrack and in Science)

In 2001, J. Craig Venter became the first scientist to sequence the human genome; most recently, he and his research team created the first self-replicating bacterial cell constructed entirely with synthetic …

Life—As We Know It—Is in His Hands

Our DNA Is Software. And J. Craig Venter’s Going to Code Us All.

We’ve reached a pivotal moment in our understanding of what life is. Biologist and entrepreneur J. Craig Venter, one of the scientists responsible for bringing us to this point, explained …

With Great Scientific Power Comes Great Responsibility

If Synthetic Biology Allows Us to Play God, What are the Rules?

Synthetic biology has been called “genetic engineering on steroids.” It’s also been described as so difficult to pin down that five scientists would give you six different definitions. No matter …