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The DNA Files

DNA Studies in St. Louis:

Special reports from KWMU science reporter Julie Bierach. This project is made possible with support from The DNA Files, a project of SoundVision Productions.

munsonThe ethics of genetic testing
Dr. Ronald Munson, professor at the University of Missouri - St. Louis and Nicole Armstrong, Genetic Counselor Washington University School of Medicine appeared on St. Louis on the Air to discuss the issue of genetic testing.

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grainGenome sequence could lead to better control of harmful fungus
Scientists have sequenced the genome of a fungus that infects wheat and barley crops throughout the Midwest.

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exhibitGenome exhibit unlocks mysteries of DNA
A new interactive exhibit is opening at the St. Louis Science Center that explores the science of DNA. Featuring a giant double helix model shaped like a twisted ladder, it unveils the mysteries of why the genome is being mapped.

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 >> Additional information about the exhibit

labUncovering genetic clues to cancer
The Genome Sequencing Center at Washington University is one of three in the country participating in the Cancer Genome Atlas Project.

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miceLink between gut bacteria and obesity
Obesity rates are skyrocketing around the world. Scientists believe that along with our lifestyle, it could have something to do with our gentic landscape and the trillions of microbes living in our gut.

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    >> More information about the researchers

CatScientists sequence DNA of Missouri cat
Scientists have recently published the DNA sequence of the Feline Genome. Researchers hope that by unveiling the genetic code of the domestic cat, they'll learn more about the 250 diseases that afflict both cats and humans.

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      >> The article published in Genome Research

CellsStem cell debate continues in MO, despite breakthrough
Last month, two teams of researchers announced that they've been able to make ordinary skin cells act like embryonic stem cells. It's a major breakthrough in the science world because it has the potential to remove the ethical and moral dilemmas that have plagued the embryonic stem cell research debate.

But, that's not exactly the case in Missouri, where scientists and groups continue to debate the necessity of a controversial technique used in embryonic stem cell research.

       >> Full story

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About the Series DNA Files:

The DNA Files, the award-winning NPR series that explores the mysterious world of the genome and its impact on life in the 21st century, returns to public radio this fall with five new one-hour documentaries. Produced by Berkeley, California-based SoundVision Productions®, the shows are anchored by Peabody-and Emmy-winning correspondent John Hockenberry. The upcoming broadcasts—for which globetrotting reporters traveled to Canada, Mexico, India and Australia—will be released in fall of 2007. They mark The DNA Files’ third season on stations—large and small—across the U.S.

Airs: Tuesdays, 8:00-9:00 p.m. October 30-November 27

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John HockenberryAbout Host John Hockenberry:

John Hockenberry is familiar to millions of Americans who tune in to NPR’s All Things Considered and NBC’s Dateline, and to those who read publications such as The New York Times, The Washington Post and The New Yorker. His engaging presence and quirky humor have helped define The DNA Files since the series began in 1998.

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Episode Descriptions:

Each program is 59 minutes in length.

Beyond Human

We humans think we are pretty special creatures within the animal kingdom, but as scientists try to understand what makes us different from other animals, they keep running into what makes us the same. We share most of our DNA with chimps, nearly as much with mice, and a good proportion with non-mammals such as bees and birds. Researchers examine these similarities and differences to learn more about the human race. Producer: Barrett Golding

Rewriting Heredity: Environment and the Genome

At first, geneticists thought studies of genes and inheritance held the answers to both the cause and treatment of disease. Now they realize that genes do not act alone and that environment — from our cells to our neighborhoods — works in concert with our genetics. Researchers are connecting just how the minute genetic variations among people influence why some are more sensitive to air pollution or how the variations in our living conditions can change health on a molecular level. Producers: John Rieger, Vicki Monks, Jon Kalish

Minding the Brain

This program may just change the way you think about memory and learning. And it won't just affect your mind; it'll change your brain — literally. Researchers today are grappling with the interplay between the inner mind and the outer world and looking at how the brain a person is born with changes in response to the cultural, social, personal and physical environments we live in. Producer: Larry Massett

The Heat Is On: Evolution in Action

Evolution is an ongoing process and as the earth becomes warmer, we are seeing changes in migration patterns of birds, insects and even in life in the oceans. Here we look at how scientists track these changes, how organisms can adapt or not, and what this means for the health of the planet. From a tiny bog mosquito to the corals of Australia's Great Barrier Reef, the program discovers how living things are affected by warming trends. Producer: Adam Burke

Designing the Garden: Food in the Age of Biotechnology

This program looks at the debates surrounding genetically modified food. Some say manipulating genes in plants and animals is the solution to world hunger; others say it's not safe to eat or grow. The Enviropig, for example developed by researchers in Guelph, Ontario. The pig is genetically modified to produce less phosphorus, and might one day make pig farming less harmful to the environment. The program also travels to India to explore rice genetically fortified with beta-carotene to ward off diseases that come from Vitamin A deficiency. Producers: Julie Grant and Elizabeth Culotta

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Events and Education:

KWMU is sponsoring the Saint Louis Science Center exhibit: Body Worlds 3

For educational information, visit the San Francisco Exploratorium. Resources include interactive, hands-on teaching modules.

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