Featured image: Genetic variants of breast cancer cells, with different proteins highlighted by fluorescence. Many types of cancer cells coexist within a tumor, mutating more as time goes on. (Courtesy ) et al., Cancer Research 2001
Our guest this week was Rebecca Elyanow, PhD candidate at Brown University and Visiting Student Research Scholar in Princeton’s Department of Computer Science, who covered her fascinating work on understanding cancer mutations. All human cells copy DNA when they split, and many of these replications cause mutations in our genes. While these errors are normally corrected, some of them persist and develop into invasive cancers. Tracking these mutations and finding which ones are most harmful is a daunting task—which is why computer scientists like Rebecca write algorithms to sequence the tangled DNA of cancer cells. Hear how gene assembly works in practice (the shotgun method) and how computer science can help us unveil a mutation’s family tree. Plus, we end with a primer on machine learning and possible uses in keeping the government honest.
Listen to the whole recording for a sample of WPRB’s one and only All Vinyl Week, plus news about:
- Supernova enveloped by gas and particulates end much quicker! The Kepler telescope found a recent explosion to last only days, much faster than these behemoth star deaths typically go.
- Huge swaths of the southern Amazon seem to have been inhabited by civilizations as recently as 1500 BC, upturning conceptions that the area was sparsely populated. Imagine, maybe a million people overlooked until now!
The playlist can be found online at WPRB.com or below.