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Dr. Barry Starr

Dr. Barry Starr is a Geneticist-in-Residence at The Tech Museum of Innovation in San Jose, CA and runs their Stanford at The Tech program. The program is part of an ongoing collaboration between the Stanford Department of Genetics and The Tech Museum of Innovation. Together these two partners created the Genetics: Technology with a Twist exhibition.

Read his previous contributions to QUEST, a project dedicated to exploring the Science of Sustainability.

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Dr. Barry Starr's Latest Posts

Present-Day Tibetans Inherited Genetic Gifts from Paleolithic-Era Ancestors

KQED Science | July 14, 2014 | 0 Comments

Present-Day Tibetans Inherited Genetic Gifts from Paleolithic-Era Ancestors

The world had been awash in news about how we can see the evidence in our DNA of ancient humans mating with Neanderthals and their close relatives, the Denisovans. Now in a new study out in the journal Nature, a group of researchers has found the strongest evidence to date that this mating mattered.

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You Can Transform Your Genetic Ancestry Data Into Health Info, But Your Results May Vary

KQED Science | June 30, 2014 | 0 Comments

You Can Transform Your Genetic Ancestry Data Into Health Info, But Your Results May Vary

An online service called Promethease allows you to convert your genetic ancestry data into health data. If you do, keep in mind that you may miss key health data because your ancestry test might not have been designed to find important health markers.

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Stanford Scientists Solve Small Part of Genetic Mystery Behind Blonde Hair

KQED Science | June 16, 2014 | 0 Comments

Stanford Scientists Solve Small Part of Genetic Mystery Behind Blonde Hair

A surprisingly large number of DNA regions are involved in hair color. Stanford scientists have solved how one of these can lead to blonde hair.

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Comb Jelly DNA Studies Are Changing How Scientists Think Animals Evolved

KQED Science | June 2, 2014 | 5 Comments

Comb Jelly DNA Studies Are Changing How Scientists Think Animals Evolved

Comb jellies are these beautiful, otherworldly creatures that sparkle gently in the sea. And now, if a study in the journal Science and another one in the journal Nature hold up, they may not be so gentle on evolution or the tree of life. These “aliens of the sea” are fundamentally changing how we think about both.

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DNA 2.0: Adding Two Letters to Life’s Alphabet

KQED Science | May 19, 2014 | 0 Comments

DNA 2.0: Adding Two Letters to Life’s Alphabet

For the last few billion years, all life has used just four letters to spell out its instructions. Now a group in San Diego has added two new letters.

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Surprising Amount of Neanderthal DNA Still Evident in Modern European and Asian Populations

KQED Science | May 5, 2014 | 9 Comments

Surprising Amount of Neanderthal DNA Still Evident in Modern European and Asian Populations

Neanderthals may be extinct but at least 20-40% of their DNA lives on in modern Europeans and Asians because of interbreeding. Neanderthal DNA survives because it gave useful traits to the ancestors of Europeans and Asians.

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Scientists Have Engineered a Version of Bird Flu That Can Spread Between Mammals

KQED Science | April 21, 2014 | 0 Comments

Scientists Have Engineered a Version of Bird Flu That Can Spread Between Mammals

Scientists were able to engineer a version of the bird flu that can spread between mammals, the first step towards turning this virus into a pandemic. This research is controversial as it has created something that is potentially dangerous.

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Another Step Closer to Redesigning Life: Scientists Create Synthetic Chromosome in Yeast

KQED Science | April 7, 2014 | 0 Comments

Another Step Closer to Redesigning Life: Scientists Create Synthetic Chromosome in Yeast

A group of scientists has replaced a natural chromosome in yeast with an artificial one. This won't only make a more useful yeast, but it also opens the door to redesigning the DNA of more complicated beasts like plants and animals (or us) and maybe even to resurrecting extinct species like the passenger pigeon or wooly mammoth.

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Testing Complete DNA Sequences Yields Only Partial Info but Could Still Save Your Life

KQED Science | March 24, 2014 | 0 Comments

Testing Complete DNA Sequences Yields Only Partial Info but Could Still Save Your Life

Evaluating your whole genome sequence to determine your health risks is not yet up to snuff. But as imperfect as it is, you still might see something that could save your life.

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Erasing Traumatic Memories from DNA May One Day Help PTSD Sufferers

KQED Science | March 10, 2014 | 1 Comment

Erasing Traumatic Memories from DNA May One Day Help PTSD Sufferers

A group of scientists has reported that they have been able to make current treatments for post-traumatic stress syndrome (PTSD) better and longer lasting in mice. The hope is that these findings may one day pave the way for better treatments for the 7-8% of people who suffer from PTSD at some point in their lives.

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New Technology Allows for Precise Genetic Engineering in Primates

KQED Science | February 24, 2014 | 2 Comments

New Technology Allows for Precise Genetic Engineering in Primates

Scientists can now make precise, specific changes in the DNA of primates using a new technology first identified in bacteria. Not only will this usher in an age where animal models for human diseases are more useful, but it also means that we are very close to being able to do the same thing in people.

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DNA of 7000-Year-Old Spanish Skeleton Reveals Details About Appearance

KQED Science | February 10, 2014 | 2 Comments

DNA of 7000-Year-Old Spanish Skeleton Reveals Details About Appearance

Scientists have just done something that would have been unimaginable even a few years ago—they have sequenced the entire set of DNA from a 7000 year old Spaniard. And this isn’t all. They have also managed to learn that he was most likely a dark-skinned, blue or green-eyed man who had trouble digesting milk as an adult.

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New DNA Study Reveals How Criminal Identical Twins Can Be Caught

KQED Science | January 27, 2014 | 0 Comments

New DNA Study Reveals How Criminal Identical Twins Can Be Caught

Six out of every thousand people are estimated to be identical twins. This means that there are a lot of children being fathered by identical twins and that these twins are involved in a good number of crimes too.  And until recently, none could be identified from just their DNA. This has all changed in a new study where scientists were able to reliably use DNA to tell two identical twins from each other.

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Can Fear Be Passed Down Through Generations Within DNA?

KQED Science | December 23, 2013 | 0 Comments

Can Fear Be Passed Down Through Generations Within DNA?

Imagine a world where your experiences can be passed on to the next generation. Scientists don’t yet know if this happens in people, but they have now confirmed in a new study that this sort of thing does happen in mice.

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Consumer Genetic Testing Company 23andMe Faces Its Own Test From the FDA

KQED Science | December 9, 2013 | 1 Comment

Consumer Genetic Testing Company 23andMe Faces Its Own Test From the FDA

In response to a letter from the FDA, a direct-to-consumer (DTC) genetic testing company in Mountain View, California called 23andMe has agreed to stop providing health data on new purchases of its $99 genetic tests.

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New DNA Studies Debunk Misconceptions About Paternal Relationships

KQED Science | November 25, 2013 | 1 Comment

New DNA Studies Debunk Misconceptions About Paternal Relationships

Some men are unknowingly raising kids that are not biologically related to them, but until recently, the numbers were uncertain. Now that DNA testing is becoming cheaper and easier, better data has become available.

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Poor Understanding of Genetics Can Lead to Separated Families

KQED Science | November 4, 2013 | 0 Comments

Poor Understanding of Genetics Can Lead to Separated Families

Parents can and do have children who look very different from themselves, but lack of understanding of genetics have led to authorities taking children away from them.

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Controversial Genetic Engineering Technique Could Prevent Fatal Illnesses in Children

KQED Science | October 21, 2013 | 0 Comments

Controversial Genetic Engineering Technique Could Prevent Fatal Illnesses in Children

If scientists are allowed to perform a simple genetic engineering procedure, they will be able to offer a reprieve to a small group of women who are condemned to pass certain fatal genetic diseases to each and every one of their children.

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Your Car Could Run On Gasoline Made From Bacteria in the Future

KQED Science | October 7, 2013 | 0 Comments

Your Car Could Run On Gasoline Made From Bacteria in the Future

Imagine if instead of digging oil up out of the ground and refining it into gasoline, we could just have bacteria make it for us in a big vat somewhere. Researchers from South Korea have done just that -- engineered bacteria to make gasoline -- but many challenges remain before large scale production becomes viable.

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Why Are So Many People Right-Handed? Genetic Research May Hold The Clues

KQED Science | September 23, 2013 | 7 Comments

Why Are So Many People Right-Handed? Genetic Research May Hold The Clues

Scientists have struggled for a long time to explain why 85-90 percent of people are right-handed. They’ve known genetics plays an important role in people occasionally ending up left-handed, but they also know it is not the whole story.

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