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EP 463: Dr. Siddhartha Mukherjee on the Promise/Peril of Genetic Research

Dr. Siddhartha Mukherjee is a Pulitzer Prize-winning best-selling author and a doctor at the forefront of cancer and genetic research. He talks about a new two-part documentary that he and Ken Burns produced for PBS titled The Gene: An Intimate History. He discusses the fascinating history of the genetic research and those scientists who have worked to understand heredity. He shares how the eugenics movement set legitimate genetic research back in the early 20th Century and why, even today, the specter of eugenics still looms large as scientists ponder the possibility of gene editing and designer babies. Dr. Murkergee talks about how an unlikely public/private partnership accomplished the monumental task of sequencing the entire human genome and how modern day gene hunters are using that information to potentially treat some of the world’s rarest and most debilitating diseases. He also revels how that same research could be applied to treating and even curing major diseases like cancer and how genetic science is currently playing a vital role in the fight against the Coronavirus.

Part 2 of The Gene: An Intimate History airs Tuesday 4/14 on PBS. You can also stream Part 1 and 2 on and other PBS streaming platforms. Visit Siddhartha Mukherjee at and follow him on Twitter at @DrSidMukherjee.

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