Midsummer Nights' Science 2016

2016 Lectures

Wednesday, July 6, 6-7pm
Why microbes matter
[ Video ]

Microbes influence nearly every aspect of our lives. Though they have gotten a bad rap for causing disease, our bugs can protect us from disease, feed us, and they might even affect the way we think! We are also learning how human activity, including the use of antibiotics, has influenced our microbes with profound implications for human health. I will discuss some of the modern ways that we investigate microbes and what these investigations are telling us about why our microbes — and what we do to them! — matter.

Ashlee Earl
Ashlee Earl is a research scientist and group leader of Bacterial Genomics within the Broad Institute's Genomic Center for Infectious Diseases. Her work seeks to understand the relationship between microbes and human health, including how antibiotic resistant pathogens emerge and spread.

Previously, Earl managed much of the Broad’s research in the Human Microbiome Project, and led the analysis and publication that established priorities for capturing and sequencing the "most wanted bacteria" from the human body.  

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Wednesday, July 13, 6-7pm
Autism spectrum disorders: genetics of an evolving diagnosis
[ Video ]

Autism spectrum disorders (ASDs) are diagnosed far more frequently today than they were 20 years ago, and people with a diagnosis of ASD differ enormously in their behavior and abilities. This talk will introduce recent findings from ASD genetics studies and discuss changes in the ASD diagnostic landscape.

Elise Robinson
Elise Robinson is an instructor in the Analytic and Translational Genetics Unit at Massachusetts General Hospital and an affiliated scientist at the Broad Institute. She is also an instructor in the Department of Medicine at Harvard Medical School. Robinson’s research focuses on the genetic epidemiology of behavior and cognition. She is interested in using genetic data to understand the biology of neurodevelopmental variation and psychiatric disorders and to examine disease patterns in populations.

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Wednesday, July 20, 6-7pm
How epigenetics controls our genes in health and disease
[ Video ]

The one genome we inherit at birth gives rise to the thousands of different cell types in our body — blood cells, skin cells, neurons, and so on. How can cells with the same genes be so different? The answer lies in epigenetics, the system of gene controls that turn on just the right genes in cells. This talk will present an overview of the field of epigenetics and discuss his lab’s efforts to understand and correct epigenetic defects in human cancer.

Brad Bernstein
Brad Bernstein is a Professor at Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School, and an institute member at the Broad, where he co-directs the Epigenomics Program.

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Wednesday, July 27, 6-7pm
Using big data to understand rare diseases
[ Video ]

More than one million humans have now had their DNA sequenced, providing tremendous amounts of information on the patterns of genetic variation across the human population. This talk will outline the Broad Institute’s efforts to create massive genetic databases and describe how these data can be used to understand human genes and the causes of rare, severe diseases.

Daniel MacArthur
Daniel MacArthur is the co-director of the Broad Institute's Program in Medical and Population Genetics, and of the institute's Joint Center for Mendelian Genomics. His research focuses on the development of extremely large databases of human genetic variation and the application of these databases along with new genomic techniques to improve the diagnosis of patients with rare diseases.

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