Ink Out Loud: If you’re looking for change … go to Church | TahoeDailyTribune.com

Ink Out Loud: If you’re looking for change … go to Church

Mandy Feder
mfeder@tahoedailytribune.com

I'm not one to preach, so I wont, but if you want to see the extinct woolly mammoth roaming the Earth again, go to Church — George Church, that is.

Church is a professor of genetics at Harvard Medical School and a genetics pioneer who is most commonly known for the Personal Genome Project, which provides the world's only open-access information on human genomic, environmental and trait data. According to his website, "His innovations contributed to nearly all 'next generation' genome sequencing methods and companies."

Aside from his research on disease, he would also like to breed woolly mammoths.

Sounds a bit Jurassic Park-like, doesn't it?

Why would he want to do this?

Is Church a mad scientist?

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I don't think so.

Church was recently featured in the Technology Quarterly of the Economist. According to the article, "Brain Scan: Welcome to my genome," Church seeks to revive and restore animals and plants from extinction. "There are certain species, he believes, that are good for humanity and in order to keep them alive it is necessary to conserve the whole ecosystem they live in, too. To do that, he says, may well require reviving some species that are already extinct. For example, Dr. Church thinks that woolly mammoths could help prevent the Arctic permafrost from melting. Their grazing would invigorate the flora growing on the surface, which would provide more protection from the sun. His laboratory is developing a robotic system called multiplex automated genome engineering (MAGE) that can perform up to 50 different genome alterations at nearly the same time, creating billions of variants in a matter of hours. MAGE would allow scientists to start with an intact genome of a living Asian elephant and change it wholesale into one that is comparable to an extinct mammoth, using information pieced together from frozen fragments of mammoths. Passenger pigeons, dodos, giant auroch cattle and even Neanderthals might follow."

To learn more about George Church and his many projects visit http://arep.med.harvard.edu/gmc/.

Church's research is a testament to the miraculous capabilities of the human brain.

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