Food Matters

Food Matters

Giving science a seat at the table

The Genetics of the Immune System


Last week, I had the opportunity to talk with a group of students from Grandview Heights School in Edmonton, Canada. The students are learning about genetics, and the instructor, John Chase asked me to talk about how genetics impacts my field, and to give them a perspective on how this stuff translates to the real world.

The quality isn't perfect, and we had some technical glitches, but we recorded it using google hangouts, and you can see the full class here. Though not strictly food related, a lot of what I talked about will be relevant later when I talk about infectious diseases, allergies and autoimmunity. Skip ahead to 7:55 if you don't want to hear all the autobiographical stuff and want to get straight into stuff about the immune system.

There were a lot of student questions that I didn't get a chance to answer, like "Is there a difference between genetic modifications in humans and animals? What are possible improved characteristics if a human were to be genetically modified?" and "Are there known diseases that could have an effect like the black plague on the human race? Is it still possible for people to not be immune even though there has been lots of inter-breeding going on between cultures?"

I've posted answers to these questions (and more) over at my other blog. Please take a look if you're interested.

The views expressed are those of the author and are not necessarily those of Scientific American.

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