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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

Powerful Genetic Test Prevents Paternity Mix-Up

KQED Science | March 9, 2015 | 4 Comments

Powerful Genetic Test Prevents Paternity Mix-Up

A couple who used a fertility clinic to conceive was ready to sue when the child’s blood type didn’t match up with mom and dad’s. Obviously the clinic had used the wrong sperm or made some other awful mistake. Except in this case they probably hadn’t. The couple, whose case I worked on, gave me […]

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Scientists Create the Most Precise 3D Map of the Human Genome Yet

KQED Science | February 23, 2015 | 0 Comments

Scientists Create the Most Precise 3D Map of the Human Genome Yet

Until recently scientists have not been able to figure out the information coded in the folding of our DNA in the nucleus. A new map now makes this task simpler. This kind of map will not only tell us how the instructions in our DNA lead to making each one of us, but it may also provide new ways to understand and even treat diseases like cancer.

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Genetically Speaking, Americans Really Are a Melting Pot of Diversity

KQED Science | January 26, 2015 | 1 Comment

Genetically Speaking, Americans Really Are a Melting Pot of Diversity

A new study confirms that at the DNA level, people in the U.S. are more similar than many might think. People who self identify as African-American, Latino or European-American very often have traces of one or both of the other ancestries in their DNA.

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Scientists Used Modern DNA to Reconstruct Part of a 19th-Century Man’s Genome

KQED Science | January 12, 2015 | 0 Comments

Scientists Used Modern DNA to Reconstruct Part of a 19th-Century Man’s Genome

Until recently, you pretty much had to rely on family stories that were passed down through the generations to learn about your ancestors. But that is now set to change. With a little luck, a whole lot of science and genealogy, you may be able to use passed down DNA instead of stories to learn a bit about that great-great-great-grandfather.

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Bird Biology Knowledge Expands with the Sequencing of 48 Genomes

KQED Science | December 29, 2014 | 0 Comments

Bird Biology Knowledge Expands with the Sequencing of 48 Genomes

In a stunning feat of scientific prowess, a large group of scientists has completely sequenced the genomes of 48 different bird species. But as sequencing gets easier, managing all of that data is turning out to be the real challenge.

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Getting Genetic-Based Health Data Just Got Easier in Canada and the U.K.

KQED Science | December 15, 2014 | 0 Comments

Getting Genetic-Based Health Data Just Got Easier in Canada and the U.K.

Here in the U.S., if you want to get health information from your direct-to-consumer (DTC) genetic test, you need to use an online resource like Promethease. The same is no longer true in Canada and the U.K.

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New Study Sheds Light On Two Regions of DNA Linked to Male Homosexuality

KQED Science | December 1, 2014 | 0 Comments

New Study Sheds Light On Two Regions of DNA Linked to Male Homosexuality

There is little doubt any more among the research community that sexual preference is a combination of both nature and nurture. In other words, it comes about because of both genes and the environment. The next questions to answer have more to do with how much each contributes and which genes and environmental factors are involved.

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Scientists Find Genes in Mice That May Lead to Future Ebola Treatments

KQED Science | November 17, 2014 | 1 Comment

Scientists Find Genes in Mice That May Lead to Future Ebola Treatments

Scientists have identified Ebola-resistant and Ebola-sensitive mouse strains. Not only will the sensitive mice be useful as a relatively quick way to test new Ebola treatments, but by comparing its genetics to those of the resistant strains, scientists may find new ways to treat Ebola.

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Oldest Sequenced Genome From 45,000-Year-Old DNA

KQED Science | November 3, 2014 | 1 Comment

Oldest Sequenced Genome From 45,000-Year-Old DNA

In a technological tour de force, a group of scientists have managed to read most of the DNA from the thigh bone of a 45,000 year-old-man. They were able to estimate that humans and Neanderthals bred in a major way 50,000-60,000 years ago and to confirm that the human mutation rate is a bit slower than scientists previously thought.

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New Research Shows Targeted Antioxidants Help Mice Live Longer, Healthier Lives

KQED Science | October 21, 2014 | 0 Comments

New Research Shows Targeted Antioxidants Help Mice Live Longer, Healthier Lives

While many of the benefits of antioxidants are undoubtedly oversold, we do know that if given at high enough levels and targeted to the right place, antioxidants can help a mouse live 10-20% longer. If this holds up in people, that is equivalent to an extra 7-14 years for people here in the U.S.

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Why Scientists are Seen as Competent but Untrustworthy (and Why it Matters)

KQED Science | October 6, 2014 | 1 Comment

Why Scientists are Seen as Competent but Untrustworthy (and Why it Matters)

According to a recent study, the public's distrust of scientists has gotten so bad that they are now on par with CEOs and lawyers. This loss of trust will almost certainly have profound implications for our future.

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Genetic Tests May Have Unexpected Side Effects — Like Divorce

KQED Science | September 22, 2014 | 2 Comments

Genetic Tests May Have Unexpected Side Effects — Like Divorce

Direct-to-consumer (DTC) genetic tests are a fun way to learn about your family history, ancestry and maybe even a bit about your future health risks. But sometimes, they can also lead to unforeseen negative consequences.

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Fixing a Gene in a Fertilized Egg Prevents Muscular Dystrophy (in a Mouse)

KQED Science | September 8, 2014 | 0 Comments

Fixing a Gene in a Fertilized Egg Prevents Muscular Dystrophy (in a Mouse)

Scientists recently fixed a broken gene in a fertilized mouse egg and prevented the mouse from getting an ultimately fatal form of muscular dystrophy. This study may one day translate into gene therapies that will treat and maybe even reverse certain effects of the disease.

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A Glimpse of LUCA, Life’s Last Universal Common Ancestor

KQED Science | August 25, 2014 | 0 Comments

A Glimpse of LUCA, Life’s Last Universal Common Ancestor

A new study suggests how early life might have survived without some of the cellular machinery that is absolutely required for life today. Turns out that having a fairly leaky membrane may have been the key.

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Some of Us May Have a Genetic Predisposition to Disliking Exercise

KQED Science | August 11, 2014 | 0 Comments

Some of Us May Have a Genetic Predisposition to Disliking Exercise

About 90% of us over the age of 12 fail to get as much exercise as we should. This is almost certainly not because we don’t believe in those benefits. Instead, it looks like at least part of the reason may be that some of us are genetically programmed to hate exercise.

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Genetically Engineering Wild Populations Could Be Just Around the Corner

KQED Science | July 28, 2014 | 0 Comments

Genetically Engineering Wild Populations Could Be Just Around the Corner

We might be able to use selfish genes to cause the population of mosquitoes that carry malaria to crash. Is genetically manipulating these insects out in the wild worth preventing hundreds of millions of people from getting malaria?

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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 | 1 Comment

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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