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DNA: Disease, Nature, Ancestry ─ Three billion letters of you

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MRC Institute of Genetics & Molecular Medicine

Crewe Road South

Edinburgh

EH4 2XU

United Kingdom

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DNA: Disease, Nature, Ancestry ─ Three billion letters of you

Inaugural lecture of Chris Ponting, Professor of Medical Bioinformatics

You’ve come a long way over the last 3.5 billion years or so. Well, not you precisely, but your DNA – your genome – that was cooked up, copied, and mutated over these billions of years into what it is now. It is a Book of Life containing over 3 billion letters, almost as many letters as its age in years. Your Book reads similarly to the Books of other life forms – mammals, fish, insects, fungi, plants, bacteria. Not surprising, really, because humans are related to all of life and the only differences are those written into our Books since we shared an ancestor. Your Book reads almost exactly as any other human’s, except for rare changes to its spelling, and it is the same – almost – in each of your 30 trillion cells. But humans are different, and some of these differences can be traced to single letter changes. In this talk, I will trace the history of our fragile thread of DNA, how it binds us to the rest of life on Earth, and how DNA is revealing what goes wrong in genetic disease.

This lecture will be followed by a reception in The Nucleus Café .

This lecture is free and open to all.

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MRC Institute of Genetics & Molecular Medicine

Crewe Road South

Edinburgh

EH4 2XU

United Kingdom

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