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The Genetics Podcast
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The Genetics Podcast

Author: Sano Genetics

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Exploring all things genetics. Cambridge University Alumnus and current CEO of Sano Genetics Dr Patrick Short analyses the science, interviews the experts and helps share the stories of people who have been personally affected by genetic conditions. To take part in the latest research studies mentioned in this podcast please visit
39 Episodes
Andrea Ganna has been leading COVID19HG, a worldwide effort to understand the role that our genetics plays in COVID-19 infection and severity. In this episode, we discuss some of the group's findings so far and the origins of this initiative, which has now attracted hundreds of researchers from over 50 nations. Do you enjoy our podcasts? Would you like the chance to listen to them live and ask your own questions to our guest? Next week we're hosting our first ever live podcast, and we're taking registrations now! Find out more here:
Genomic data, is big data - so how do we actually make sense of this huge amount of data? And why should we use 'the cloud’ to store and analyse it? We discuss how the cloud enables faster, safer, and less expensive genomic data analysis, and what the future could look like when AI is used to analyse the vast amount of human genetic data being generated. On this episode, we talk to Dr Maria Chatzou Dunford, CEO and Co-Founder of LifeBit, a company that wants to democratise analysis of genetic big data. Lifebit's platform allows researchers to analyse existing genetic data without having to copy from its original location, using 'federated data analysis' and the cloud. Lifebit's long-term aim is to not just make accessing and analysing data easier for researchers, but to develop Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning tools to help researchers make sense of it.
This episode covers some of the dramatic changes in the field of medical research as a result of COVID19 making it unsafe for people to visit medical research facilities, and medical professional's time and efforts being redirected to fighting the new virus. The guests on the podcast are Paul Wicks, a digital health consultant and scientific advisor to Sano Genetics as well as several other digital health companies. Paul was previously the VP of Innovation at PatientsLikeMe, one of the worlds largest patient social networks and one of the first large-scale platforms for patients to share knowledge and connect with one another, and a pioneer in digital medical research. Paul was previously on the podcast on episode 22 in October 2019 "Behind every data point is a patient". The second guest is Liam Eves, who is also part of the Sano team and has worked in medical research and life sciences for about 15 years working in a number of different parts of the clinical trial ecosystem including at CROs, site management companies, and startup companies innovating in remote clinical trials. Liam is experienced in virology clinical trials, and explains how a typical trial is conducted and some of the challenges with COVID19.
Why do some people have a severe response to COVID-19, and others seem to have no symptoms at all? Is the answer in our genes? This week we talk to Chris Wigley, the CEO of Genomics England and Interim SRO for Data-NHSX, and Dr Richard Scott, the clinical lead for rare disease at Genomics England and consultant clinical geneticist at Great Ormond Street. Genomics England has led the UK into a new world of medicine with genetic sequencing, and it’s only just starting. Today, we’re focusing on the recently announced large scale human genome sequencing project launched by Genomics England in regards to COVID-19. From understanding individual response and drug development, listen to what Genomics England are hoping to understand about COVID-19. If you would like to volunteer for Genomics England's study on COVID19, sign up here:
This week we talk about COVID19 and what it’s really like to have the virus. Talking to Adelina Chalmers, who first started experiencing symptoms 8 weeks ago - and was admitted to the hospital 6 weeks ago - talks about how it has been mis-sold as being just like the flu. Adelina is a podcaster and runs a consultancy called ‘The Geek Whisperer’ which helps engineers and their managers communicate with each other. Going through day by day symptoms, Adelina tells us how symptoms are non linear, and how it got worse just as it seemed like she was getting better. This episode has great tips, including the importance of recording your symptoms if you start getting sick, because the more data you can give healthcare professionals, the better you can help them guide decision-making. Link mentioned in the Episode about Paul Garner’s experience:
What’s it like having a disease so rare, you’re misdiagnosed? Or you’re the only one in the whole of the UK to have it? David Rose is a rare disease advocate, an ambassador for Great Ormond Street Hospital, and part of the team at Rare Revolution magazine, an online magazine dedicated to rare disease patients and their voices. He’s the only known person in the UK to have occipital horn syndrome and he tells us what it’s like to live with a rare disease - and why we should all be more aware of rare disease as a whole. David and Patrick talk about how others can try to understand rare diseases better, and how anyone can get involved with advocacy work. They also look at the changes people have made due to COVID-19, and how that affects people with rare diseases.
How do you go from a cell to a baby? This question fixated Kat Arney at the beginning of her career, and pushed her towards epigenetics ‘before it was cool’. From travelling the globe asking how genes work, to her upcoming book ‘Rebel Cell’, she discusses the world of genetics. This week, Patrick talks to Kat Arney - a geneticist and science writer demystifies genetics on her fortnightly Genetics Unzipped podcast. They discuss the difference between the male and female response to coronavirus and her work on the COVID19 tracking ZOE app.
Through combining genealogy with DNA testing, more can be discovered about family relationships - making it a powerful tool for reuniting families, and even solving cold cases. This week, Patrick interviews Debbie Kennett - a genetic genealogist at the forefront of the field. Debbie started her search in the early 2000s on a personal mission to learn more about her maiden name (Cruwys) using genealogical tools. From there, her interest in genetic genealogy has grown and she explains this innovative new method to match people. They discuss the rise of DNA databases, how Facebook is a way to find lost family members, and the ethics of using DNA to solve crimes.
In this week’s bonus episode we talk to Dr Angela Rasmussen (@angie_rasmussen), a Virologist at Columbia University. She answers top questions surrounding COVID-19 and what this outbreak could mean for our future. Does genetics or blood type may affect the virus? How does the virus actually work and how do we test for it? Get a fuller picture of the virus, what we know so far, and how we can prevent this happening again.
Today, Jillian Hastings Ward is a leader in the 100,000 genomes project, but she and her family started off as one of the first families whose DNA was sequenced by the project in 2015. She talks to Patrick about her son, Sam, who was one of the first children in the world to be diagnosed with a rare genetic disorder due to a fault in the GRIN1 gene. They discuss Jillian's vision for the future of 'patient-powered research networks' and the CureGRIN Foundation, which has received funding from the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative.
Early detection for diseases like cancer is important to everyone, but Owlstone Medical is leading the pack by creating a breathalyser that aims to diagnose diseases in the ultimate non-invasive test. Their ground-breaking technology is completely painless and uses breath - not blood - for early detection and diagnosis of disease. Patrick talks to Billy Boyle in this episode about his role as CEO at Owlstone Medical and the reasons behind his drive towards early diagnosis. From cancer detection to the effects of air pollution, the potential future uses for this amazing technology seems unlimited while also removing the fear of most current testing.
In this double-bill episode, Patrick talks to two key rare disease researchers in the field: Dr Bruce Bloom, the CCO of Healx, and Dr Mike Tranfaglia, CSO of FRAXA. In this episode both draw on their wide-ranging personal and professional experiences to discuss the successes and opportunities of drug repurposing, the power of using machine learning, and the work they’ve been doing.
Patrick interviews Dr Jeff Barrett from Genomics PLC about how genetic data can be used for drug discovery and the future of precision medicine. In this episode, Dr Barrett talks about going beyond genes to understand how they affect particular genetic risks and conditions. They also discusses the closeness of the genetics community and the sharing spirit when it comes to research.
Patrick interviews Dr Matt Might, whose personal and professional life has brought him all the way to advising Obama and setting up his own institute. In this exciting episode, Matt discusses how he went from a computer scientist to becoming significantly involved in rare disease research, despite a lack of academic background in biology.
Patrick talks to Dr Mahsa Shabani, a researcher at the Centre for Biomedical Ethics and Law, University of Leuven. From the golden state killer to blockchain, they discuss the latest ethical issues in genetics. They look at data sharing and involvement of patients in genomics research, and talk about Dr Shabani’s most recent paper, which looks at the ethical concerns with motivations for those who want to make their data available for research. Asking if people are choosing to share their data for financial reasons, is this ethical?
Dr Patrick Short talks to Gemma Stunt about her son Bertie’s diagnosis of Duchenne muscular dystrophy, how to get involved in clinical trials and what life is really like with a currently ‘incurable’ genetic condition.
Our guest this week is Dr Yan Shao from The Wellcome Sanger Institute, a non-profit British genomics and genetics research institute. In this episode, Dr Shao discusses the findings from his most recent study; where he and his team found significant differences in the microbiomes of newborn babies depending on delivery method.
Get to know a little bit more about our new scientific advisor Dr Paul Wicks. Paul has dedicated much of his career to patient-centric research and building patient communities, particularly in rare disease. Paul has spent 17 years in the digital health and online community space, 13 of which were spent as a senior leader at PatientsLikeMe.
This week on our podcast, we speak to Xing Xu from Dash Genomics and Renee George from HealthLytix about Alzheimer's disease. Dash Genomics has partnered with HealthLytix to produce a new model that helps you understand your individual risk of Alzheimer's disease. All you have to do is upload your DNA data from a consumer DNA test like or 23andme. They then use research from two major universities to estimate your personalised risk for the condition.
In this episode Patrick Short speaks with Allison Watson the co-founder and secretary of Ring20 Research and Support UK patient organisation and the co-chair of EpiCARE’s patient advisory group. Allison discusses the Ring Chromosome 20 syndrome and the work of Ring20 Research and Support UK.
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