Technology

George Church: The maverick geneticist now wants to reverse ageing

22 August 2018

George Church: The maverick geneticist now wants to reverse ageing

He stirred controversy with his plans to bring back the woolly mammoth. But first he‘s working on editing sperm – and trying out his ageing reversal techniques on dogs

Ken Richardson

HE MADE his name as a pioneer of gene sequencing in the 90s. Since then, however, George Church has also gained a reputation as something of a maverick, with his often-controversial ideas on how to apply , most notably his project to .

Church is a professor of genetics at Harvard Medical School and a prolific entrepreneur. He has also worked for decades to get more people to have their genome sequenced, and with his latest company, he hopes he has hit on a way to do just that.

Why have you set up Nebula Genomics?

It’s not the first time I’ve tried to figure out a way to get affordable genomes to the people of Earth. I’ve tried many models. I think this one is the best as it addresses several issues. One of those is trust, because we’re using secure encryption. The other is price. I used to think there would be some magic price that would trigger everybody to get their genome sequenced. Now I have concluded that even zero is not low enough. We are going to pay people to have it done.

Why do you think people are so resistant to getting their genome sequenced?

One reason is there’s poor communication of its value by the press, and even by my colleagues. As a result, most people imagine that they are not at risk of having a child with a genetic disease if no one in their family has ever had one. That’s far from the facts. Most infants that are born severely affected are the first in their …

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