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What is the relationship with energy production, wealth and modern society? What is being done to research and stop deadly immune disorders? Genetic engineering and manipulation of the world around us. Tonight’s discussions take us from ancient Egypt to tomorrow.
Energy and Wealth
Mark W. Nelson (Senior Analyst, Environmental Progress)
Can we be rich with renewables? Well, with nothing more than renewable energy and without resorting to slavery, Egypt of the Pharaohs became the richest society the world had ever seen and constructed works the likes of which have never been equaled. How did they make it work, and what are our prospects? In this talk a nuclear engineer will walk us through a story of a society which radically changed its relationship with energy, and its lessons for our time.
Deadly immune disorders
Violet Votin (Clinical Research Scientist at Machaon Diagnostics)
If the DNA in our cells is a book, how do we actually read it? Do some typos make more of a difference to the story than others? What if the typo is in the Prologue or Appendix? Genetics involves a surprising number of grey areas. Nonetheless, progress is quickly being made. For example, hemophagocytic lymphohistiocytosis (HLH) is a rare deadly disorder that over-activates the immune system and affects mostly young children. Genetic diagnosis used to take four weeks and now takes only two days, changing treatment options dramatically.
High throughput genetic engineering of microbes for natural biological products
Patrick Westfall (Zymergen, Inc)
Identifying, understanding, and engineering the complex set of genetic interactions responsible for any cellular phenotype is extremely difficult, traditionally requiring years of study to generate and test hypotheses. To address this problem, Zymergen has developed a powerful data-driven platform for automated high-throughput microbial strain manipulation. The platform is designed to be flexible, reliable, and host-agnostic to allow Zymergen to build and test thousands of designed variant strains and identify the genetic perturbations improving performance.