Coming Soon!!!

This netcast explores the rapidly changing world of biotech, with a penchant towards getting a better understanding of who we are and where we are going. The living world will soon be a true substrate for engineering. Our world will change, and so will we. 
We bring a first hand account from the scientists that are moving us into this new technological era: the era of biotech. 

Produced by Microbe.TV

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    Futures in Biotech 35: Brain Machine Interfaces

    Dr. Justin Sanchez discusses technologies that enable direct brain to computer interfacing, just think...

    Host: Marc Pelletier

    Guest: Dr. Justin C. Sanchez, Director of the Neuroprosthetics Research Group, Assistant Professor, Department of Pediatrics, Division of Neurology, Department of Neuroscience, Department of Biomedical Engineering, University of Florida

    I really had no idea that the technologies that Justin has developed existed other than in science fiction. The possibilities are endless, and could change everything from computing, to flying planes, to simply changing the channel... I will keep these notes short, and let Justin explain.

    find more, including videos at: The Neuroprosthetics Research Group


    FiB Episode 34 - The Great Historical Document: The Human Genome

    Mark Gerstein endeavors to make sense our genome on its past and present course...

    Host: Marc Pelletier

    Guest: Mark Gerstein; Albert L. Williams Professor of Biomedical Informatics; Professor of Molecular Biophysics and Biochemistry; Professor of Computer Science, Yale University. Gerstein Lab

    In past shows, we've had Lee hood, the inventor of the DNA sequencer, and George Church who was among those personally involved in initiating the Human project. But getting the code and really understanding these human blueprints are entirely different problems. Our guest today, Mark Gerstein, is trying to make sense of it all, and his work among other things has revealed that the genome is more than just a blueprint, or list of parts, but a rich historical text about our past.


    MOre BioTEch ComEdY

    FiB Episode 33 - Dr. Milners Eplorations into the Human Mind

    Dr. Brenda Milner describes the experiments that led to a revolution in modern neuroscience...

    Host: Marc Pelletier
    Guest Host: Dave Brodbeck

    Guest: Dr. Brenda Milner; Dorothy J. Killam Professor of Psychology, Montreal Neurological Institute and Department of Neurology and Neurosurgery, McGill University, Montreal, Quebec, CA.

    Throughout her 58 years at the Montreal Neurological Institute, Dr. Milner has explored the inner workings of the human mind, and helped define the structures that give us our exquisite memory and ability for leaning. Her groundbreaking work has influenced generations of psychologists and neuroscientists, and through her unbridled curiosity has revealed many facets to the human mind that were previously unknown.

    Interesting links:

    Gairdner Foundation
    Gairdner News


    Moving Family and Lab!

    My work at Yale is done, and I am currently in the process of moving family and lab to Cleveland, Ohio. I will be setting up shop at BioEnterprise and Case Western Reserve. Two new shows have been recorded, so the next one should be posted during the first week of July! It is with Brenda Milner, the founder of the field of cognitive neuroscience. Her work spans well over 60 years, and has influenced at least three generations of neuroscientists and psychologists.

    Have a good week!


    FiB Episode 032 - Controlling HIV Evolution

    Dr. Ronald Collman talks about the science of HIV, the virus that has taken 25 million lives.

    Host: Marc Pelletier

    Guest: Dr. Ronald Collman; Professor of Medicine in Microbiology, Virus/Cell/Molecular Core Director, Penn Center for AIDS Research, University of Pennsylvania.

    It is looking like the summer of 2008 will be an amazing summer for science. The Phoenix Mars Mission and NASA have successfully landed their probe on the martian arctic, in search for the conditions for life (FiB24), the personal genome project, run by Dr. George Church, is braving us forward into a new era human genomics (FiB29), and lastly, the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) is getting readied to explore the origins of the big bang, and may just unravel the ultimate theory of everything (FiB31). Nevertheless, a large cloud hangs over humanity, which has taken over 25 million lives. **WARNING: HARDCORE BIOTECH DISCUSSION**. Dr. Ronald Collman describes the molecular structure, pathology, and with great insight, the incredible discoveries that might just help us conquer HIV.



    Phoenix lands on Sunday, will it find life in the Martian Arctic?


    It has a complete wet lab for organics, and both light and atomic force microscopes. They are going to dig through the ice in the Martian Arctic... Time to place your bets...

    Deputy Project Scientist, Phoenix Mars Mission on FIB!!!

    FiB Episode 031- The insy-winsy teeny-weeny Big Bang

    Dr. Michio Kaku describes our universe and the physics of the impossible: quantum teleportation, invisibillity, telepathy...


    Host: Marc Pelletier

    Guest: Dr. Michio Kaku; Henry Semat Professor of Theoretical Physics at the Graduate Center of the City University of New York.

    In this episode, we are very fortunate to have Dr. Michio Kaku. He is the co-founder of String Field Theory, and a Professor of Theoretical Physics at City Univerity in NY. In our discussion he talks about everything, literally: the theory of EVERYTHING! I must say, if we are going to have a true understanding of the living world, it will demand an understanding our universe and how it 's assembled. You can't separate out the laws of physics from biology, they go hand in hand. Dr. Kaku also talks about the current teleportation experiments to the space shuttle, and how we might some day be able to teleport DNA. Seriously, that is BIOTECH!!!

    Dr. Kaku's book:
    Physics of the Impossible: A Scientific Exploration into the World of Phasers, Force Fields, Teleportation, and Time Travel


    FiB Episode 030 - Aubrey de Grey on the Thousand Year Lifespan

    Dr. Aubrey de Grey proposes a biotech roadmap towards agelessness


    Host: Marc Pelletier

    Guest: Aubrey de Grey; Chairman and Chief Science Officer, the Methuselah Foundation.

    Benjamin Franklin said: "In this world nothing is certain but death and taxes". But in these times of technological revolution, does this statement still hold true? And if so, for how long? Genes have been identified that upon activation can extend lifespan in most organisms. The great labs of Leonard Guarente at MIT (featured in FiB episode 2), Cynthia Kenyon at UCSF, as well Linda Buck, Nobel Laureate in 2004, are all working arduously to elucidate the molecular details to both slow down the aging process and extend lifespan. Well, Aubrey de Grey is a fairly controversial figure because he proposes doing away with death all together - leaving us with only taxes, I guess?

    Ending Aging: The Rejuvenation Breakthroughs That Could Reverse Human Aging in Our Lifetime



    FiB Episode 029 - From Human Genome Project to Your Genome Project with Dr. George Church (Part II)

    Dr. Church describes both the underlying DNA technologies and societal implications of personal genomics

    Host: Marc Pelletier

    Guest: Dr. George Church, Professor of Genetics and Director of the Center for Computational Genetics, Harvard Medical School, Cambridge, MA; Founder & Principle Investigator of The Personal Genome Project

    This episode is a Part II, the first being FiB episode 25. In that episode, we started off talking about Dr. Church's pioneering work on the Human Genome Project, and then got sidetracked with his cool upcoming experiments that will involve looking for DNA/nucleic acids on Mars for NASA.

    Well, I wanted to have him back to discuss two technological revolutions that currently happening in biotech. The first is the personal genome. Why do I call it a revolution, as opposed to an evolutionary technological step? Because it changes how we make medical decisions: from being based on statistics and family histories, to decisions that are based on our true molecular anatomy, our own genome. The second revolution is the new field of synthetic biology: creating tailored organisms, not by simply adding or subtracting a single or a few genes as for GM foods, but redesigning organisms from scratch. Dr. Church has been a key player in both these revolutions - his insights are just about the best out there.

    Get involved:

    Participate in the Personal Genome Project

    Donate to the Personal Genome Project


    FiB Episode 028 - One of the Greatest Quests in the World of Genetics

    Dr. Richard Lifton describes his scientific journey, which has changed how doctors treat hypertension: a condition that affects approximately one billion people worldwide...

    Host: Marc Pelletier

    Guest: Dr. Richard Lifton, Chairman of the Department of Genetics; Sterling Professor of Genetics, Medicine and Molecular Biophysics and Biochemistry at the Yale School of Medicine; and Investigator, Howard Hughes Medical Institute

    Dr. Lifton has been on a quest to understand the genetic basis of hypertension, the most important risk factor associated with cardiovascular disease, which affects nearly a billion people worldwide. And since his discoveries have actually changed how doctors treat hypertension, it would be fair to say that his work has improved the lives of millions.

    I think there is an important underlying story here, and it is not about the genetics of cardiovascular disease, but of scientific endeavor. There are some great challenges ahead of us, and no matter how complex the problem, we shouldn't be discouraged from taking them head on...


    FiB Episode 027 - Folding@Home at 1.3 Petaflops

    Dr. Pande explains how he uses the worlds' fastest computer to solve some of the most difficult problems in biology

    Hosts: Marc Pelletier and Steve Gibson

    Guest: Dr. Vijay S. Pande, Director of Folding@Home and Associate Professor of Chemistry and of Structural Biology, Stanford University

    Steve Gibson joins me in interviewing a true visionary of biotechnology: Dr. Vijay Pande. Dr. Pande is the creator and Director of Folding@Home, the world's largest distributed computing project (Stanford University) that seeks to address some of the most difficult problems in biology.



    FiB Episode 026: Senator Harrison Schmitt, The Last Man to Walk on the Moon

    Former senator from New Mexico, Dr. Harrison 'jack' Schmitt, shares his experience of living and working on the moon, the future of space settlements, and solving the worlds energy needs.

    Host: Marc Pelletier

    Guest: Dr. Harrison Schmitt, Lunar Module Pilot, Apollo 17.

    Those great voices you will hear in our opening theme are Harrison 'Jack' Schmitt, lunar module pilot, and Gene Cernan, commander of Apollo 17. They were the two last men to walk on the moon. To be accurate, Harrison Schmitt was the last man out of the lunar module, and to set his foot down on the surface, while Gene Cernan was the last person to step back into the lunar module before take off, in December 1972. So either way, they can both lay claim to being the last man on the moon, it is just a matter of how you look at it!

    In this episode, we talk with Dr. Schmitt, former Senator from New Mexico, who was the first American Astronaut-Scientist, a Harvard trained Geologist. I really wanted to invite him on the show, not only because he is, in my opinion, one of the great explorers of our time, but because he is a scientist. He has a unique perspective on the experience and the mission, which included living on the moon for three days, and exploring its surface in the valley of Taurus-Littrow.

    Blue Marble Photograph
    Schmitt running on the moon
    Schmitt working near the lunar rover
    Eugene Cernan
    Schmitt taking lunar soil samples
    Schmitt near large boulder
    Apollo 17's lunar rover

    Apollo 17's lunar rover
    Schmitt falls

    Return to the Moon, by Dr. Harrison Schmitt
    Preview at Google books

    In the Shadow of the Moon
    The Wonder of it All

    Other interesting links:
    Fusion Technology Institute
    Fusion Technology Institute class notes
    More of Dr. Schmitt's class notes
    Detailed Bio


    New Mighty Mouse in Town

    Here is another great example of metabolic engineering. We covered this area with Dr. Ron Evans in episode 22, who produced the first example of metabolic engineering or 'mighty mouse'. It looks like the there are other important enzymes that can be targeted as well to drive supermetabolism. Here is a movie of the supermouse produced in Richard W. Hanson's laboratory at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland:

    Mighty Mouse

    The PEPCK-C enzyme now presents itself as a new pharmacological target. One could imagine in a relatively short time, having a PEPCK-C activator that could greatly improve metabolism.

    Original paper

    FiB Episode 025: From the Human Genome Project to Space Exploration with Dr. George Church (Part I)

    Dr. George Church explores the fantastic world of genetics from the Earth to Mars!

    Host: Marc Pelletier

    Guest: Dr. George Church, Professor of Genetics and Director of the Center for Computational Genetics, Harvard Medical School, Cambridge, MA.

    In this episode, we are very fortunate to have one of the most inventive and visionary geneticists of our time. Even early in his career, he showed signs of great scientific intuition as he played a key role in initiating and contributing to the Human Genome Project.

    When Dr. Church agreed to be on the show, I knew that we would be talking extreme biotech - but I really, and I mean REALLY had no idea!!! And, since we only scratched the surface here, this will be Part I of II.


    FiB Episode 024 - The Phoenix Mars Mission with Dr. Deborah Bass

    Dr. Bass and her colleagues at NASA explore the Martian arctic for signs of life

    Host: Marc Pelletier

    Guest: Dr. Deborah Bass, Deputy Project Scientist, Phoenix Mars Mission

    Dr. Deborah Bass and her colleagues at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory and University of Arizona have sent a Martian lander on a 400 million mile/10 month journey to the Martian arctic. The lander is equipped with some of the most sophisticated geological instruments to study the history of water and potential for life in the Martian Arctic's ice-rich soil. We are potentially on the verge of one of history's most important discoveries. In less than ten months, a set of experiments will be performed to determine if there * IS * or * WAS * life in the waters of the Martian arctic. For more information please visit The Phoenix Mars Mission.


    FiB Episode 023 - From Gemini to Mars with Dr. Buzz Aldrin

    Dr. Buzz Aldrin talks about Gemini 12, Apollo 11, and the future of space exploration

    Host: Marc Pelletier

    Guest: Dr. Buzz Aldrin

    I thought I would try an experiment this week, since there are so many great science and technology stories outside the area of biotech. Yes indeed I admit - there are! Sure, we are in the midst is a biotech revolution. And yes, there will be many great biotech stories to come. But after a discussion with our Chief TWiT Leo, he and I agreed that it would be fun to venture into new areas science and technology that are in rapid development.

    As always - in the tradition of FiB - we bring you a true first hand account. Our guest played a key role in one of humanity's greatest scientific and technological achievements, for which he won the Presidential Medal of Freedom. He, together with Neil Armstrong and Michael Collins completed the first manned mission to the moon. He as sharp as nails, and one of the nicest guys you could meet. He is also in a movie that is coming out this month, presented by Ron Howard entitled: "In the Shadow of the Moon", definitely a must see - in HD!!!

    Some interesting links:

    In the Shadow of the Moon
    Dr. Buzz Aldrin's books
    The Wonder of It All


    FiB Episode 022 - Metabolic Engineering and the Marathon Mouse with Dr. Ron Evans

    Dr. Ron Evans discusses the genetic engineering of metabolism and the creation of a strain of super mice: the Marathon Mouse

    Host: Marc Pelletier

    Guest: Dr. Ron Evans, Professor and the March of Dimes Chair in Molecular and Developmental Biology, Salk Institute.

    In this episode, Dr. Evans talks about science in a very pure sense and explains his approach to asking the right questions. This can truly make or break a scientist. He also talks about the great experience and people he has met while working at the Salk Institute, his pioneering work on cloning the growth hormone gene, and lastly, how his discoveries have led to the engineering the Marathon Mouse -the first example of the metabolic engineering of endurance.

    Imagine having the conditioning and fat burning metabolism of a long distance runner without exercise (or for those that can't exercise), or on the other side the coin, being able to run long distances without prior training... Most importantly here, the Marathon Mouse provides proof-of-concept that metabolism can be controlled, and the potential medical benefits seem almost countless.

    Some interesting links:

    Howard Hughes Medical Institute
    Life in the lab
    'Exercise Pill'


    FiB Episode 021 - Science Versus Cancer with Dr. Evangelos Michelakis

    Dr. Michelakis explains how to target the metabolism of cancer cells

    Host: Marc Pelletier

    Guest: Dr. Evangelos Michelakis, MD, FACC, FAHA

    Our guest, Dr. E. Michelakis, published an extremely interesting paper on how a very inexpensive drug called DCA, could potentially tackle multiple forms cancer including lung, brain, and breast cancer. Otherwise known as dichlororoacetate, it has been used for decades to treat the metabolic disorder Lactic Acidosis and other inherited mitochondrial metabolic diseases. It can seemingly switch the unique metabolism of cancer cells back to normal - triggering a process referred to as Apoptosis - a form of programmed cell death. This is an amazing science versus cancer story - BUT:

    Please listen to the disclaimer at the end of the show, I did keet the tape rolling and our discussion moved towards the potential missuse of DCA outside the context of clinical trials. So again - really - please listen to Dr. Michelakis' final comments if your thinking of using DCA.

    Some interesting links:

    Official University of Alberta DCA Website
    Dr. Michelakis' paper in Cancer Cell
    Scientific Review: “Metabolic Targeting as an Anti-cancer Strategy; Dawn of a New Era?”


    FiB Episode 020 - Dr. Kandel's Insights into the Science of Mind

    Nobel Laureate Dr. Eric Kandel explains the neurobiology of memory

    Host: Marc Pelletier

    Guest: Dr. Eric Kandel

    Dr. Kandel is a Professor of Physiology and Psychiatry and the founding director of the Center for Neurobiology and Behavior of the Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons. He is also a Senior Investigator of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute and Member of National Academy of Sciences. He was awarded the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine in 2000 for his work on the biological mechanisms for memory. In this episode, he explains how the mind learns and stores memory, and also shares some of his most recent findings.

    Some interesting links:

    Upcoming lecture in NYC with James Watson
    In Search of Memory: The Emergence of a New Science of Mind