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Bio Eats World

Author: Andreessen Horowitz

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Biology is breaking out of the lab and clinic—and into our daily lives. Our new ability to engineer biology is transforming not just science, research, and healthcare, but how we produce our food, the materials we use, how we manufacture, and much, much more. From the latest scientific advances to the biggest trends, this show explores all the ways biology is today where the computing revolution was 50 years ago: on the precipice of revolutionizing our world in ways we are only just beginning to appreciate. Through conversations with scientists, builders, entrepreneurs, and leaders, host Lauren Richardson (along with the team at Andreessen Horowitz), examines how bio is going to fundamentally transform our future.

In short, bio is eating the world.
54 Episodes
Neuroscientists have long been trying to determine what happens in the brain during sleep, but to date, they have overlooked a key player: astrocytes. These star-shaped cells were once thought to be the glue that held the brain together, but we are now beginning to appreciate their importance in a variety of brain functions. In this episode, host Lauren Richardson talks to Kira Poskanzer, Assistant Professor at the University of California, San Francisco, about her group's work showing that neurons are only one piece of the larger sleep puzzle. The conversation covers the complexity of sleep, how astrocytes control two key attributes of sleep (depth and duration), the technology and methods employed to uncover this novel mode of regulation, and how appreciating the role of astrocytes in governing sleep could lead to new insights into neuropsychiatric conditions and how to treat them.  The article at the center of today's episode is: “Cortical astrocytes independently regulate sleep depth and duration via separate GPCR pathways” by Trisha V Vaidyanathan, Max Collard, Sae Yokoyama, Michael E Reitman, and Kira E Poskanzer, published in eLife.
Today we are re-running an episode exploring a question that seems super straightforward, but that on closer examination reveals incredible complexity, and that is "how do we put the patient at the center of the healthcare system?” It almost seems counterintuitive, since aren’t patients always the center of healthcare? But healthcare is a strange industry, in that it is built with the fundamental goal of serving patients, but in many ways, the patient isn’t always the end customer of the system. In fact, the patient — and the patient’s voice — can often be lost or overlooked in the enormous, complex, convoluted business flows between a huge system of providers, in elaborate clinical work flows, in insurance coverage and reimbursements, and in high level policy debates. In this episode, a16z general partner Julie Yoo and deal team partner Jay Rughani talk with Freda Lewis Hall — a physician who was formerly Pfizer’s Chief Patient Officer and Chief Medical Officer; and who among many other roles was appointed by the Obama Administration to the Board of the Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute. They discuss what happens when you rethink the entire healthcare system from the patient’s point of view, from drug development to clinical trials to care delivery. What tools and new approaches can we use to truly put the patient at the center of the healthcare system? And how do we update our Flintstones healthcare system to match our Star Wars medicines?
In 1994, 29 bald eagles were found dead at DeGray Lake in Arkansas. This mass mortality event kicked off a search for the culprit which has last over 25 years. On this episode of the Bio Eats World Journal Club, host Lauren Richardson talks to Susan B. Wilde of the University of Georgia about her group's work finally identifying the eagle killer, and revealing a complex web of ecosystem dysfunction. Solving this mystery required a fresh point of view, a wide range of techniques and technologies, and an international collaborative effort.  Susan B. Wilde, Ph.D, Associate Professor of Aquatic Science at the University of Georgia, joins host Lauren Richardson to discuss the results and implications of the article "Hunting the eagle killer: A cyanobacterial neurotoxin causes vacuolar myelinopathy" by Steffen Breinlinger, Tabitha J. Phillips, Brigette N. Haram, Jan Mareš, José A. Martínez Yerena, Pavel Hrouzek, Roman Sobotka, W. Matthew Henderson, Peter Schmieder, Susan M. Williams, James D. Lauderdale, H. Dayton Wilde, Wesley Gerrin, Andreja Kust, John W. Washington, Christoph Wagner, Benedikt Geier, Manuel Liebeke, Heike Enke, Timo H. J. Niedermeyer and Susan B. Wilde, published in Science.
Understanding how plants have adapted to natural climate change over millions of years provides a playbook of evolutionary strategies to help us prepare for and respond to man-made climate change. On this episode, host Lauren Richardson talks to Thomas Juenger, Associate Professor at the University of Texas in Austin and co-senior author of the recent article “Genomic mechanisms of climate adaptation in polyploid bioenergy switchgrass”, published in Nature. They discuss how studying native plants — like switchgrass — can inform crop improvement strategies, the import role of switchgrass as a possible future source of biofuels, how advances in sequencing technology have unlocked the secrets hidden in plant genomes, and more. Thomas Juenger, Ph.D, Associate Professor of Integrative Biology at the University of Texas at Austin, joins host Lauren Richardson (@lr_bio) to discuss the results and implications of the article “Genomic mechanisms of climate adaptation in polyploid bioenergy switchgrass”, by John T. Lovell, Alice H. MacQueen, Sujan Mamidi, Jason Bonnette, Jerry Jenkins, Joseph D. Napier, Avinash Sreedasyam, Adam Healey, Adam Session, Shengqiang Shu, Kerrie Barry, Stacy Bonos, LoriBeth Boston, Christopher Daum, Shweta Deshpande, Aren Ewing, Paul P. Grabowski, Taslima Haque, Melanie Harrison, Jiming Jiang, Dave Kudrna, Anna Lipzen, Thomas H. Pendergast IV, Chris Plott, Peng Qi, Christopher A. Saski1, Eugene V. Shakirov, David Sims, Manoj Sharma, Rita Sharma, Ada Stewart, Vasanth R. Singan, Yuhong Tang, Sandra Thibivillier, Jenell Webber, Xiaoyu Weng, Melissa Williams, Guohong Albert Wu, Yuko Yoshinaga, Matthew Zane, Li Zhang, Jiyi Zhang, Kathrine D. Behrman, Arvid R. Boe, Philip A. Fay, Felix B. Fritschi, Julie D. Jastrow, John Lloyd-Reilley, Juan Manuel Martínez-Reyna, Roser Matamala, Robert B. Mitchell, Francis M. Rouquette Jr, Pamela Ronald, Malay Saha, Christian M. Tobias, Michael Udvardi, Rod A. Wing, Yanqi Wu, Laura E. Bartley, Michael Casler, Katrien M. Devos, David B. Lowry, Daniel S. Rokhsar, Jane Grimwood, Thomas E. Juenger & Jeremy Schmutz published in Nature.
The search for and conjecture about alien life has evolved, from science fiction to just plain science. On this episode, host Lauren Richardson talks to Arik Kershenbaum, Ph.D, author of the new book “The Zoologist’s Guide to the Galaxy: What Animals on Earth Reveal about Aliens — and Ourselves”, about what we can conjecture about alien life, based on the laws that govern life on Earth, and the universe at large. The conversation covers big questions like: Does biology have universal properties like physics does? Will the process of evolution be distinct on different planets? Are limbs, sex, and intelligence Earth-specific features of evolution? And importantly, what does the study of alien life teach us about our place on here on earth.  Arik Kershenbaum, Ph.D, zoologist, and fellow at the University of Cambridge is the author of the new book “The Zoologist’s Guide to the Galaxy: What Animals on Earth Reveal about Aliens — and Ourselves”.  To learn more, check out or follow him on twitter at @arikkershenbaum
Today we are re-running a previous episode of Journal Club — our show where we curate breakthrough research and bridge paper to practice — in light of a recent article published in the journal Nature (see show notes below). In this episode, host Lauren Richardson talks to Professor Anthony Atala from the Wake Forest School of Medicine about his lab’s work creating an engineered uterus that can support live births. This work represents a major milestone in regenerative medicine and could be used to address a pressing unmet clinical need — and it might even be laying the groundwork for the ability to gestate babies outside of the body. That is where the recent Nature article, entitled “Ex utero mouse embryogenesis from pre-gastrulation to late organogenesis” by Aguilera-Castrejon et al., comes in. That article describes the creation of a cell culture system that can support embryonic development — up to a certain point, that is. So in this episode we are talking about creating a tissue engineered uterus, that could be used to replace a defective uterus and that might one day possibly support pregnancy out of the body — whereas in the recent Nature article, they do away with the uterus entirely and culture the embryos in a fully mechanical set up. While this kind of ex vivo pregnancy still seems like sci-fi, both of these articles make steps in that general direction, and more importantly, increase our understanding of the female reproductive system and early development.  Anthony Atala, MD (the G. Link Professor and Director of the Wake Forest Institute for Regenerative Medicine, and the W. Boyce Professor and Chair of Urology), joins host Lauren Richardson (@lr_bio) to discuss the results and implications of the article "A tissue-engineered uterus supports live births in rabbits" by Renata S. Magalhaes, J. Koudy Williams, Kyung W. Yoo, James J. Yoo & Anthony Atala, published in Nature Biotechnology.In the introduction, we also discuss the new article "Ex utero mouse embryogenesis from pre-gastrulation to late organogenesis" by Alejandro Aguilera-Castrejon, Bernardo Oldak, Tom Shani, Nadir Ghanem, Chen Itzkovich, Sharon Slomovich, Shadi Tarazi, Jonathan Bayerl, Valeriya Chugaeva, Muneef Ayyash, Shahd Ashouokhi, Daoud Sheban, Nir Livnat, Lior Lasman, Sergey Viukov, Mirie Zerbib, Yoseph Addadi, Yoach Rais, Saifeng Cheng, Yonatan Stelzer, Hadas Keren-Shaul, Raanan Shlomo, Rada Massarwa, Noa Novershtern, Itay Maza & Jacob H. Hanna, published in Nature.
In this conversation, Stanford Professor Euan Ashley—geneticist, cardiologist, author of the new book, The Genome Odyssey, and first co-chair of the Undiagnosed Diseases Network—talks with Bio Eats World host Hanne Winarsky about one of the first places that genomic sequencing began to dramatically impact patients’ lives, and those of their families around them: in rare disease. Rare disease is by definition, well, rare. But collectively, it’s surprisingly common: 1 in 15. In this episode, we talk about how rare disease became the clear first use case for genome or exome-scale sequencing, and how sequencing—and other new technologies, and the new information they give us—is changing how rare disease gets diagnosed. Ashley tells the stories of how the Undiagnosed Disease Network solved some of the most perplexing medical mysteries with cutting edge tools and technologies; and the lessons learned from the world of rare disease that we can use to impact our knowledge and our treatment of those with common disease.
Mosquitoes are the deadliest animals on Earth and for millennia humans have tried to rid themselves of these disease-spreading pests, with shockingly little success. On this episode of the Bio Eats World Journal Club, host Lauren Richardson talks to Leslie Vosshall of Rockefeller University about two articles from her lab investigating the neural and genetic basis of the mosquito's love for us and our blood. The conversation covers how mosquitoes taste blood, the critical differences between male mosquitoes and female mosquitoes, and of course, what this all means for controlling the spread of the deadly pathogens transmitted by the mosquito. Leslie Vosshall, Ph.D, Professor at Rockefeller University and Howard Hughes Medical Institute (@leslievosshall) joins host Lauren Richardson (@lr_bio) to discuss the results and implications of two recent articles from her lab. First, "Sensory Discrimination of Blood and Floral Nectar by Aedes aegypti Mosquitoes" by Veronica Jove, Zhongyan Gong, Felix J.H. Hol, Zhilei Zhao, Trevor R. Sorrells, Thomas S. Carroll, Manu Prakash, Carolyn S. McBride, and Leslie B. Vosshall, published in Neuron. Second, "Fruitless mutant male mosquitoes gain attraction to human odor" by Nipun S Basrur, Maria Elena De Obaldia, Takeshi Morita, Margaret Herre, Ricarda K von Heynitz, Yael N Tsitohay, and Leslie B Vosshall, published in eLife.
In this episode, we talk with Jeff Hawkins—an entrepreneur and scientist, known for inventing some of the earliest handheld computers, the Palm and the Treo, who then turned his career to neuroscience and founded the Redwood Center for Theoretical Neuroscience in 2002 and Numenta in 2005—about a new theory about how the cells in our brain work to create intelligence. What exactly is happening in the neocortex as our brains process and interpret information and sensory input—like sight, smell, touch, or language, or math—to create a perception of and to navigate through the world around us?  a16z General Partner Vijay Pande and I talk to Jeff about the basic principles in this new idea of the brain’s learning methodology for creating not just human intelligence, but animal intelligence, artificial intelligence, even alien intelligence, which he lays out in his newly just released book, A Thousand Brains: A New Theory of Intelligence. The conversation covers how the neocortex builds models of the world around us, and what this could mean for how we design the next generation of truly intelligent machines. This episode goes all the way from tiny neurons and how they speak to each other to what’s happening in optical illusions to the future of humanity and beyond.
In a healthy person, your body automatically adjusts blood pressure constantly, and this adjustment is governed by what’s called the baroreflex. However, a spinal cord injury can disrupt this reflex, which has both short term consequences, like passing out, but also long term consequences like an increased risk of heart disease and stroke. On this episode of the Bio Eats World Journal Club, host Lauren Richardson is joined by Dr. Aaron Phillips of the University of Calgary to talk about his lab’s work to reinstate this reflex in patients after a spinal cord injury using a neuroprosthetic device. This device both senses blood pressure changes and then activates the necessary neuronal structures to restore the connection to the blood vessels. We discuss how his group determined which neuronal structures to stimulate, how they developed this medical device, and the exciting results from their studies in rats, non-human primates and humans. Aaron Phillips, CEP, MSc, PhD (Medicine), Assistant Professor at the University of Calgary, joins host Lauren Richardson to discuss the results and implications of the article "Neuroprosthetic baroreflex controls haemodynamics after spinal cord injury" by Jordan W. Squair, Matthieu Gautier, Lois Mahe, Jan Elaine Soriano, Andreas Rowald, Arnaud Bichat, Newton Cho, Mark A. Anderson, Nicholas D. James, Jerome Gandar, Anthony V. Incognito, Giuseppe Schiavone, Zoe K. Sarafis, Achilleas Laskaratos, Kay Bartholdi, Robin Demesmaeker, Salif Komi, Charlotte Moerman, Bita Vaseghi, Berkeley Scott, Ryan Rosentreter, Claudia Kathe, Jimmy Ravier, Laura McCracken, Xiaoyang Kang, Nicolas Vachicouras, Florian Fallegger, Ileana Jelescu, YunLong Cheng, Qin Li, Rik Buschman, Nicolas Buse, Tim Denison, Sean Dukelow, Rebecca Charbonneau, Ian Rigby, Steven K. Boyd, Philip J. Millar, Eduardo Martin Moraud, Marco Capogrosso, Fabien B. Wagner, Quentin Barraud, Erwan Bezard, Stéphanie P. Lacour, Jocelyne Bloch, Grégoire Courtine & Aaron A. Phillips, published in Nature.
Sea Turtle Medicine

Sea Turtle Medicine


Sea turtles occupy a very special biological niche in our world. And we still know relatively little about these creatures, one of the very few marine reptiles on the face of the planet. But as population growth and activity on coasts has exploded, so have our encounters with sea turtles... including, unfortunately, those that cause injury and disease. So what advances in technology and healthcare are helping us treat these incredible, 150 million year old animals—and what are we learning about them as a result? Max Polyak, Director of Rehabilitation at Loggerhead Marine Life Center in Juno Beach, Florida, shares with Bio Eats World host Hanne Winarsky the new advances in science and technology that are helping us treat sea turtles when they get sick or injured—and the new understanding about their biology, their behavior, and how they interact with the world around them those advances are leading to. The conversation covers everything from treating boat injuries with sea turtle-specific prosthetics; to using cutting edge human therapeutics on these animals in new ways; to the unique immune systems of these 2,000 pound leatherbacks (immune systems that have dealt with dinosaurs! meteor strikes! ice ages! and more); to how the microbiome of the sea turtle may answer one of the most intriguing mysteries about how these turtles behave; to ultimately, what sea turtle health can teach us about how we are all linked—and about the health of the entire ocean. 
On this episode of the Bio Eats World Journal Club, we explore the very compelling question of whether we can use our understanding of developmental biology to create oocytes (aka eggs or female gametes) from stem cells in the lab. If possible, this could be on par with the development of in vitro fertilization in terms of extending fertility. But creating an oocyte from a stem cell has some unique and high-stakes challenges. Host Lauren Richardson is joined by a16z general partner Vineeta Agarwala and deal partners Judy Savitskaya and Justin Larkin to discuss a recent research article in Nature by Hamazaki et al that makes a big step towards this goal. The conversation covers which aspects of oocyte biology the authors were able to replicate, which they were not, and where we think this field might be heading.  a16z general Vineeta Agarwala, MD Ph.D, and deal partners Judy Savitskaya, Ph.D and Justin Larkin, MD join host Lauren Richardson, Ph.D to discuss the results and implications of the article "Reconstitution of the oocyte transcriptional network with transcription factors" by Nobuhiko Hamazaki, Hirohisa Kyogoku, Hiromitsu Araki, Fumihito Miura, Chisako Horikawa, Norio Hamada, So Shimamoto, Orie Hikabe, Kinichi Nakashima, Tomoya S. Kitajima, Takashi Ito, Harry G. Leitch and Katsuhiko Hayashi, published in Nature.
In this episode of Bio Eats World, we talk to Dr. Jennifer Doudna—winner of the 2020 Nobel Prize for the co-discovery (with Emmanuelle Charpentier) of CRISPR-Cas9—about the art and science of biology. Huge breakthroughs such as Doudna's—which began with the identification of CRISPR in bacteria and was then built into a highly adaptable genome editing platform—are now fueling the evolution of the field. Fundamental knowledge that has largely come from curiosity-driven science has converged with enabling technologies, allowing scientists and biologists in particular to do things that even a couple of years ago, we would have found unimaginable. And biology has begun to shift from an artisanal process, to an industrial one—shifting from qualitative, descriptive science, to quantitative, predictive, high-throughput, science with increasing automation.  In this conversation, a16z General Partner Vijay Pande and Doudna talk about what happens as CRISPR and other tools to engineer and interrogate biology mature. What does the future of biology look like? Can discovery itself be engineered and industrialized—and how do we recognize the moment that becomes possible? Doudna talks about the arc of her career and work through this lens, from basic research to applied; what can be built tomorrow on today’s discoveries; and what at the end of the day may never be engineerable.
To date, synthetic biology has been mainly focused on reproducing existing compounds and materials with biomanufacturing. Think of engineering yeast to produce anti-malarial drugs, or bacteria producing spider silk. But as our guest — Professor Tom Ellis of Imperial College London — argues, the future of synthetic biology is in creating materials with fundamentally new and distinct functions. Imagine, a spider silk rope that it is interwoven with cells that can catalyze the dissolution of that rope in certain circumstances. Host Lauren Richardson and a16z bio deal team partner Judy Savitskaya talk to Dr. Ellis about his group's work creating a prototype of an engineered living material (ELM) that can be iterated on and programmed with a huge array of different functions, how ELMs can disrupt established markets, and their varied uses in industry, healthcare, fashion, consumer products, and even potentially in space travel. Tom  Ellis (@ProfTomEllis), Professor of Synthetic Genome Engineering at Imperial College London, joins host Lauren Richardson (@lr_bio) and a16z bio deal team partner Judy Savitskaya (@heyjudka) to discuss the results and implications of the article "Living materials with programmable functionalities grown from engineered microbial co-cultures" by  Charlie Gilbert, Tzu-Chieh Tang, Wolfgang Ott, Brandon A. Dorr, William M. Shaw, George L. Sun, Timothy K. Lu & Tom Ellis, published in Nature Materials. 
The way we pay for healthcare in the US has long been by fee-for-service: per doctor visit, per test, per surgery, per hospital stay. But that system has led to rapidly escalating volumes of services and cost to the system—without actually improving outcomes. What if we shifted everything towards paying for value—and outcomes—instead? In this episode, Todd Park, co-founder and executive chairman of Devoted Health, and formerly Chief Technology Officer and technology advisor for President Barack Obama; a16z General Partner Vijay Pande; and Bio Eats World host Hanne Winarsky—talk all about the megatrend of value-based care, and how it is redefining healthcare itself. Why is now the moment for this massive shift? How do we implement it? What does it mean for doctors and patients, insurers and policymakers? What is tech’s role in making it possible, and what's the business model and incentive for creating value?
In this episode, we share an episode of the brand new a16z Live podcast feed called “It’s Time to Heal”—a live conversation on audio/drop in chat app Clubhouse every Monday at 5pm PT, covering the latest trends and future of bio and healthcare with special guests and entrepreneurs, hosted by a16z bio partners Vineeta Agarwala, Jorge Conde, Vijay Pande, and Julie Yoo. Last week, a16z Bio General Partners and a16z cofounder Marc Andreessen talked with guest Nihkil Krishnan, comedian and author known for his Out-of-Pocket Substack newsletter and Slack community for healthcare builders, award winning children’s book, If You Give a Mouse Metformin, and past endeavors at TrialSpark and as healthcare analyst CB Insights. The conversation is all about the things that make you go “hmmm” in healthcare—the stuff we're all thinking but don't talk about, the places where exciting and surprising things are happening, and the places where you have to wonder why it works that way.
Ticks are "master scientists of our skin," says our guest — Seemay Chou, Assistant Professor at University of California, San Francisco. On this episode of the Bio Eats World Journal Club, Dr. Chou and host Lauren Richardson discuss how, over millions of years of evolution, ticks have developed a suite of tools to manipulate our skin physiology, all of which are delivered through their saliva as they feed. Pathogens, like the bacteria that cause Lyme Disease, take advantage of the tick's tools to infect new hosts. But what if we could also learn to use these tools? In this conversation, we discuss the dynamic nature of host-pathogen interactions, how ticks stole a tool from bacteria and then modified it to suit their needs, how our microbiome helps to protect us from ticks, how bias can influence how you set up experiments and interpret data, and how an un-fundable research project inspired a startup. Seemay Chou (@seemaychou), Assistant Professor at the University of California, San Francisco, joins host Lauren Richardson (@lr_bio) to discuss the results and implications of the article “Ticks Resist Skin Commensals with Immune Factor of Bacterial Origin”, by Beth M. Hayes, Atanas D. Radkov, Fauna Yarza, Sebastian Flores, Jungyun Kim, Ziyi Zhao, Katrina W. Lexa, Liron Marnin, Jacob Biboy, Victoria Bowcut, Waldemar Vollmer, Joao H.F. Pedra, and Seemay Chou, published in Cell.
There's been a lot of talk (including on this show!) about the many kinds of innovations and technologies changing healthcare delivery for clinicians and patients. But what's happening behind the scenes in healthcare: in billing, in administration, and infrastructure? In this episode, we’re talking about the mountains of work (and paperwork) in the healthcare system, from reimbursement claims to patient registration to call centers scheduling appointments and much more—the enormous cost of inefficiency and waste in these areas adds to the healthcare system, and what kind of tech can help to improve it. Former Senator Bill Frist—a surgeon, Senate Majority Leader from 2003 to 2007, co-founder of Aspire Health, host of healthcare podcast A Second Opinion, and board member for many healthcare systems and companies; Malinka Walaliyadde, CEO and co-founder of Alpha Health, a tech company that automates healthcare revenue cycle management; and a16z General Partner Julie Yoo join Bio Eats World host Hanne Winarsky to discuss how innovation happens in healthcare's administrative "back office". The conversation covers what that waste currently costs us on a national and personal level; how (and what) new technologies like artificial intelligence and machine learning can automate to help cut cost out of the system; and how ultimately, we can allow innovate in these areas to allow the humans to do the really important work.
"Superbug" is shorthand for multi-drug resistant bacteria. Infections with superbugs are the most difficult to treat, because these bacteria have evolved ways of evading multiple — and sometimes all! — of our available antibiotics. This multi-drug resistance can arise in the bacteria that are causing disease, meaning doctors have to find new ways to treat the infection, but also in the bacteria that harmlessly live in our gastrointestinal tract. Critically, if these gut bacteria become superbugs, they can spread resistance throughout a hospital setting via fecal-oral contamination. On this episode of the Bio Eats World Journal Club, we discuss a new strategy for protecting those harmless bacteria from antibiotics while still treating the infection. Host Lauren Richardson (@lr_bio) is joined by Professor Andrew Read of Penn State University to discuss his team's work preventing resistance evolution by repurposing an old, FDA-approved drug. The conversation covers the scope of the antibiotic resistance problem, the insights that lead to the discovery of this adjuvant therapy, and the fundamentally novel nature of anti-evolution drugs.  Andrew Read, Ph.D is the director of Huck Institutes of the Life Sciences, the Evan Pugh Professor of Biology and Entomology, and the Eberly Professor of Biotechnology at Pennsylvania State University. He joins host Lauren Richardson to discuss the results and implications of the article "An adjunctive therapy administered with an antibiotic prevents enrichment of antibiotic-resistant clones of a colonizing opportunistic pathogen"  by Valerie J Morley, Clare L Kinnear , Derek G Sim, Samantha N Olson , Lindsey M Jackson, Elsa Hansen, Grace A Usher, Scott A Showalter, Manjunath P Pai, Robert J Woods, and Andrew F Read, published in eLife.
What the heck is "junk DNA"? In this episode, a16z General Partner Jorge Conde and Bio Eats World host Hanne Winarsky talk to Professor Rick Young, Professor of Biology and head of the Young Lab at MIT—all about "junk" DNA, or non-coding DNA. Which, it turns out—spoiler alert—isn’t junk at all. Much of this so-called junk DNA actually encodes RNA—which we now know has all sorts of incredibly important roles in the cell, many of which were previously thought of as only the domain of proteins. This conversation is all about what we know about what that non-coding genome actually does: how RNA works to regulate all kinds of different gene expression, cell types, and functions; how this has dramatically changed our understanding of how disease arises; and most importantly, what this means we can now do—programming cells, tuning functions up or down, or on or off. What we once thought of as "junk" is now giving us a powerful new tool in intervening in and treating disease—bringing in a whole new category of therapies.
Comments (8)

Super Nice

It is interesting that this guy thinks aliens we encounter will be a product of darwian evolution at a time when we are giving animals and plants traits that we desire. We made super smart mice so we could watch them in a maze. They escaped into the wild. I think when we meet the aliens we will have tricked out our own genomes.

Apr 13th


Very interesting episode. I had read Jeff's book long ago while in grad school. Looking forward to reading the new one.

Mar 27th


Thank you all, this episode was one of my favourites. please use a medium app that guarantees a clear voice transmission, for podcasts are all on sounds and voices.

Mar 15th

Ariel Reynante

Wowzers this is some of the most hope inspiring news I've heard in this field since my microbial evolution class made me aware of just how dangerous our #antibiotic #resistance situation is #NPR #TIL

Feb 6th

Ariel Reynante

And this is why I paid the $199 USD to get my full genome sequenced from DanteLabs

Jan 26th

Bill Baggins

theese doctor treat pain patients like lab rats. somehow doctors have a higher claim over ones life and well being than the patient himself. if you really listen to this guy you will see the arrogance of themselves. its not the doctors job to determine if one is lying or tell them they are not in pain in their opinion. if a person has a desired treatment and it improves their life who the f**k do thesr people think they are to deny them the pursuit of happiness. whos gonna hold a higher regard for your own well being... yourself? or someone else? common sense has left the building on almost every aspect of life. the opiod bullshit isnt the factual reporting from the paitents but the arrogant opinion of the "experts". people are not animals! having to get permission for medication id a form of slavery. we have this false belief that slavery is gone when in fact it has expanded. slavery... The condition in which one person is owned as property by another and is under the owner's control, especially in involuntary servitude . My heathcare is not under my control, people forced off opiods when they dont want it is not voluntary. a child has to get a parent permission to do things. People are so busy trying to manage the lives of people they dont even dont even know when they cant even manage their own. misery loves company if a person takes opiods to improve their life, who the hell is anyone to tell them otherwise. It no different than telling a disbetic he cant have insulin even though it will improve his life. So under the ruse, since a few people abuse opiods we should deny others who dont the right to work and enjoy their familys. People who need opiods and are denied them suffer the same ill effects of person who is an addict. Addicts generally lose their ability to work and lose their family. People in chronic pain who are denied opiods generally lose their job and family and for many their life. suicide is rampant among people in constsnt pain, espesilly the non cancer patient as the cancer patient has the hope of death, something to look forward to "at least this will be over soon". The person who is in chronic pain who are not dying asks the question "do i got to live the rest of my life like this?" this is a very dire sitiation where hoplessness engulfs their life! cars kill people, people abuse cars and drive recklessly but prosperity and convienience is more important than the people they kill, same for opiods they create more prosperity than not. weve had knowlage at our fingertips and still we just take what spews from some "specialist" mouth who is speaking in their own self interest as the word of god than actually seeking the truth. Being the smartest man on earth doent give them authourity to run the lives of others We are now a world population of children who never grow up. unlike the rest of the world ill be in charge of my own life!

Jan 15th


Just discovered this podcast, very excited--It's awesome!

Oct 21st

Ariel Reynante

Wow, that is brilliant!

Oct 16th
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