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.
Dr. Barry Starr's Latest Posts
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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?
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.