At TEDxYouth@Manchester, genetics researcher Dan Davis introduces the audience to compatibility genes — key players in our immune system’s functioning, and the reason why it’s so difficult to transplant organs from person to person: one’s compatibility genes must match another’s for a transplant to take.

To learn more about these fascinating genes, watch the whole talk here»

(Images from Davis’s talk, Drew Berry’s animations, and the TED-Ed lessons A needle in countless haystacks: Finding habitable worlds - Ariel Anbar and How we conquered the deadly smallpox virus - Simona Zompi)

Hendrik Poinar: Bring back the woolly mammoth!

Today’s featured TED Talk was filmed at TEDxDeExtinction, a TEDx event held this March that brought 25 experts from across the arts and sciences to National Geographic headquarters to discuss "de-extinction" — the science of bringing extinct species back from the dead. 

In this talk, geneticist Hendrik Poinar tells us about something that seems like it could only be a dream: the quest to engineer a creature that looks very much like our furry friend, the woolly mammoth. But the first step, to sequence the woolly genome, is nearly complete. And it’s huge.

But TEDxDeExtinction was about more than just the mammoth.
There was talk of reviving the long-gone passenger pigeon, of investigating extinct frogs whose eggs hatched in their mouth, and a look into the beautiful photography of one of National Geographic's prized photographers.

For a complete round-up of the event, read our post, Frogs giving birth through the mouth, DNA retrieved from the frost, and why Jurassic Park just won’t happen: 5 takeaways from TEDxDeExtinction”  or check out the TED Blog’s coverage of the event. 

And don’t forget to watch Hendrik’s talk up there — it’s pretty awesome.

Here’s to 60 years of trying to pronounce “deoxyribonucleic acid” — 5 TEDx Talks on DNA


(Photo credit: Flickr user Saynine)

The world recently celebrated the 60th anniversary of the discovery of the complex cellular instructions known as DNA. Currently, scientists across the globe are doing a lot more than showing off computer-generated spinning double helix modelsthey are using DNA to do almost unbelievable things — like create tailor-made microbes and resurrected mammoths.

Below, 5 talks on the wonder of deoxyribonucleic acid.

Sex, evolution, and innovation: Frances Arnold at TEDxUSC
We all know that organisms combine genes to create offspring. But what if we could harness those self-replicating processes and make them work for us, asks scientist Frances Arnold. At TEDxUSC, Arnold takes us through a world of possibilities, from testing drugs on microbes to aiding cancer drugs with engineered cells.

What does your genome reveal about you?: Gilean McVean at TEDxWarwick
The first sequenced human genome took years of work and billions of dollars to complete. Today, a person’s genome can be sequenced overnight for a just few thousand dollars. At TEDxWarwick, geneticist Gilean McVean examines the consequences of this technological advance and what it means for our understanding of disease.

How to bring a mammoth back to life: Beth Shapiro at TEDxDeExtinction
Bringing ancient mammoths back to life is assuredly a daunting task, but a major roadblock has been the lack of a complete mammoth genetic sequence due to deterioration over time. Scientist Beth Shaprio reveals the novel approaches that she and her colleagues are taking to revive ancient mammoths.

Creating algae factories for sustainable fuel: Michiel Mathijs at TEDxGhent
In this short and sweet talk from TEDxGhent, Michiel Mathijs elaborates on his plan to take species of algae, one of the most common life forms on the planet, and biologically engineer them to produce oil for fuel. Along the way, Mathijs addresses concerns over bioengineering, describing scientists as not composers, but the “DJs of life,” mixing and matching genetic material.

Genetically evolved technology: Luke Bawazer at TEDxWarwick
Inspired by evolution in the natural world, Luke Bawazer’s work incorporates a type of “synthetic DNA” to test and improve materials like computer chips. According to Bawazer, this type of man-made evolution might one day lead to products that naturally adapt to suit the needs of consumers.