32 min

“Cancer has classically been thought of as a genetic disease, but…‪”‬ TheoryLab

    • Science

If every cell in your body has the same DNA, the same 20,000 genes, then why are the cells different? Why are muscle cells different than neurons? The answer is epigenetics—changes in gene activity governed by influences outside the genes themselves.

Bradley Bernstein, MD, PhD, is one of the world’s leading experts on epigenetics and cancer. In this episode he covered a lot of ground, but he used clear examples to help us understand what epigenetics is and why it’s critical to attacking cancer.

3:50 – There’s a copy of your genome in every cell. How do you fit a 6-foot long string of DNA inside a nucleus that’s about 6 microns? Epigenetics!

8:30 – “Cancer has classically been thought of as a genetic disease, but…”

16:20 – On a new technology his team developed that enables them to see which genes are on and which genes are off in individual leukemia cells

19:45 – On how this tool could be used in therapies.

23:45 – On his lab’s progress over the past 15 years, as they’ve moved from studying the genome in yeast to breaking new ground in brain and gastrointestinal tumors

29:20 – On the impact of ACS funding on his lab

30:55 – What would he say to patients and caregivers dealing with cancer?

Dr. Bernstein is an institute member at the Broad Institute and a professor in the Department of Pathology at Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School. He co-directs the Broad’s Epigenomics Program. He’s the Bernard and Mildred Kayden Endowed MGH Research Institute Chair. And he’s an American Cancer Society Research Professor.

If every cell in your body has the same DNA, the same 20,000 genes, then why are the cells different? Why are muscle cells different than neurons? The answer is epigenetics—changes in gene activity governed by influences outside the genes themselves.

Bradley Bernstein, MD, PhD, is one of the world’s leading experts on epigenetics and cancer. In this episode he covered a lot of ground, but he used clear examples to help us understand what epigenetics is and why it’s critical to attacking cancer.

3:50 – There’s a copy of your genome in every cell. How do you fit a 6-foot long string of DNA inside a nucleus that’s about 6 microns? Epigenetics!

8:30 – “Cancer has classically been thought of as a genetic disease, but…”

16:20 – On a new technology his team developed that enables them to see which genes are on and which genes are off in individual leukemia cells

19:45 – On how this tool could be used in therapies.

23:45 – On his lab’s progress over the past 15 years, as they’ve moved from studying the genome in yeast to breaking new ground in brain and gastrointestinal tumors

29:20 – On the impact of ACS funding on his lab

30:55 – What would he say to patients and caregivers dealing with cancer?

Dr. Bernstein is an institute member at the Broad Institute and a professor in the Department of Pathology at Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School. He co-directs the Broad’s Epigenomics Program. He’s the Bernard and Mildred Kayden Endowed MGH Research Institute Chair. And he’s an American Cancer Society Research Professor.

32 min

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