Putting DNA to Work

Selected Excerpts from Deciphering Nature's Alphabet

The following film clips are selected from the award-winning film Deciphering Nature’s Alphabet: A Conversation produced by State of the Art, Inc. for the National Human Genome Research Institute. This film premiered as part of the 50th Anniversary celebration of the discovery of the structure of DNA by Watson and Crick. The film clips provide an historical window into the science and politics leading up to mapping of the Human Genome and the implication for our future.

Featured in the clips are notably scientist and leaders in genetics, including:
David Baltimore, David Botstein, Francis Collins, Charles DeLisi, Sen. Pete Domenici, Walter Gilbert, Sydney Brenner, Lee Hood, Daniel Kevles, Eric Lander, Gerry Rubin, Robert Sinsheimer, Shirley Tilghman, Craig Venter, Nancy Wexler, James Wyngaarden.

The DVD of Deciphering Nature’s Alphabet is available from Cold Spring Laboratory Press.

Reverse Transcriptase (4.1 MB) - Dr. David Baltimore describes the discovery of reverse transcriptase, an enzyme that uses messenger RNA to write a gene in DNA.
Sequencing the Genome (5.6 MB) - Dr. Walter Gilbert and others describe the first successful attempts to sequence DNA.
Mapping the Genome ( 8.5 MB) - Scientists describe the use of polymorphisms, natural occurring variations in DNA sequence, to map the positions of genes.
Isolating Human Genes (6.6 MB) - Drs. Francis Collins and David Botstein recall how the gene for cystic fibrosis was first found.
Brainstorming the Genome (4.8 MB) - A description of an early meeting to brainstorm approaches to sequencing the human genome.
Tool Building (3.6 MB) - Drs. Baltimore, Eric Lander, and Lee Hood describe the origins of some of the tools used in the human genome project.
Political Curves (6.0 MB) - Senator Pete Dominici and others discuss the political will needed to make the human genome project a reality.
The Alberts Committee ( 4.6 MB) - This clip describes the National Academies committee chaired by Dr. Bruce Alberts, which recommended moving forward with the human genome project.
Launching the Human Genome Project (3.4 MB) - A description of Dr. James Watson's role in the human genome project.
Ethical Legal & Social Implications (7.9 MB) - A discussion of social and ethical issues surrounding the sequencing of the human genome.
Completing the Genome (4.3 MB) - People involved in all aspects of the human genome project reminisce about the success of the project.
Impact of the Human Genome Project (2.7 MB) - Drs. David Baltimore, Robert Sinsheimer and Craig Venter describe the impact of the human genome project.
The Future and Science (4.7 MB) - Scientists look into the future at the many discoveries yet to be made.
Computational Biology (4.5 MB) - Research scientists describe the important role of computer science in modern biology.
Future of Medicine (4.1 MB) - Scientists make predictions about some of the medical applications that may be possible now that the genome is sequenced.
Bioethics (3.2 MB) - In this clip, scientists and others touch upon some of the ethical issues surrounding the human genome.
Credits (2.4 MB)

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