When most of us hear the word “genome” we think of human DNA, the material that was long seen as the blueprint of human health and disease. Today, we know that there are many more factors than our DNA that make us who we are, including our lifestyles, our emotions, our environments.
But there is another element that, as recent science shows, has a huge impact on us: micro-organisms. Trillions of microbes, bacteria and fungi inhabit our bodies, help to digest our food, keep us healthy, or make us sick. In fact only 10 percent of the cells in our bodies and one percent of our genes are human! This event will explore how recent advances in the science of microbes change our understanding of health and disease, and give a revolutionary approach to losing weight and staying slim.
Tim Spector is Professor of Genetic Epidemiology at King’s College London and Director of the TwinsUK Registry, which is one of the world’s richest data collections on 11,000 twins. He trained as a physician with a career in research, which since 1992 has demonstrated the genetic basis of a wide range of common diseases, worked on epigenetics and more recently the gut microbiome. He is the author of The Diet Myth: The Real Science Behind What We Eat (2015).
Barbara Prainsack is Professor of Social Science, Health and Medicine at King’s College London. Barbara’s work explores the societal, regulatory and ethical implications of biomedical innovation for our society.
Chair: Sue Nelson is an award-winning science journalist and broadcaster, editor of The Biologist and co-presenter of the Space Boffins podcast. A former BBC science and environment correspondent, Sue is a director at Boffin Media and continues to produce and present science programmes and reports for Radio 4.