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Francis Crick Lecture by Julie Ahringer, University of Cambridge



Francis Crick Lecture

By Julie Ahringer University of Cambridge

A surprising finding over the past 20 years is that all animals have many of the same genes and that they use them in similar ways to grow and develop. Now that we know the complete DNA sequences of several animals, we can see for example that 60% of genes in the small worm C elegans have a human counterpart. These similarities mean that much of what is learned about what genes do in simple animals such as worms can help us understand what human genes do.

Using a remarkable new technique called RNA interference (RNAi), we can quickly test the function of individual genes. Julie will discuss how she has applied the RNAi technique to worm genes to ask for the first time what most of the genes in an animal do. Extending these approaches to other animals is speeding up the rate of biological discovery and understanding.