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Ancient Puzzles, Genomic Canaries, Medical X

Ting Wu | TEDxBeaconStreet

Scattered throughout our genomes are a set of ancient sequences that constitute one of the most puzzling conundrums to emerge from the genome era. Short, numbering in the hundreds or even thousands, and without obvious function, these sequences have remained essentially unchanged for hundreds of millions of years. Some believe that these sequences, called ultraconserved elements (UCEs), encode the most critically important functions of the genome. Others believe UCEs are a statistical accident. Ting Wu will present a stunningly simple explanation for UCEs and then propose how, if she is correct, we can harness UCEs to fashion a radically new approach for addressing disease.

Ting Wu is a Professor of Genetics at Harvard Medical School, recipient of an NIH Director’s Pioneer Award, Director of a course on Weird Stuff, and Director of the Personal Genetics Education Project. Her laboratory studies the manner in which chromosome structure and behavior govern inheritance, developing new technologies along the way.