Understanding Genetics: DNA, Genes, and Their Real-World Applications : The Great Courses: Biology

  • by The Great Courses
  • Narrated by Professor David Sadava
  • Series: The Great Courses: Biology
  • 12 hrs and 3 mins
  • Lecture

Publisher's Summary

We use DNA routinely - to cure diseases, solve crimes, and reunite families. Yet we've known about it for only 60 years. And what we're continuing to learn about it every day has the potential to transform our health, our nutrition, our society, and our future.
But what, exactly, is DNA, the self-replicating material present in nearly all living organisms? You'll learn the answer - and much more - in this briskly paced series of 24 easily understood lectures from an award-winning teacher, author, and scientist. Professor Sadava unlocks DNA's mysteries as he explains what the science of genetics is and guides you through decades of cutting-edge research, scientific discovery, and genetics' weighty implications for us as individuals and as a society. Professor Sadava draws on examples from his own research to show how understanding genetics allows us to improve medical treatment and nutrition, vastly improving our health and quality of life.
You'll also learn how understanding genetics is a critical step toward understanding human identity, itself. For examining our DNA - how it works and what happens when something goes wrong - enables us to see the roots of how our bodies work, why we get sick, and how traits are passed through families.
Enjoy this rare opportunity to peer over the shoulder of a working scientist, learning how he puzzles through the problems of genetics to find meaningful, real-world solutions that can not only save an individual life but also enhance the quality of life for everyone.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

Very good book on genetics

I thought that this was a very good book on genetics and how this field of science is being applied in the real world. The material is presented in a way that the average listener can understand and grasp. The delivery of the lectures are very well done. You will learn the basics about genetics and develop a working vocabulary. The author and in this case the professor / narrator starts each lecture with a very interesting story that sets the stage for the content of the lecture. If you have any interest in learning the basics about genetics, then I highly recommend this audio book. The Great Courses usually do a great job at providing content. This is a good book for high school students or above. It is a very interesting and enjoyable course.
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- Chris

“ The DNA double helix, discovered in 1953, is...

“ The DNA double helix, discovered in 1953, is one of the great icons of science in our society, rivaling the atom in its pervasiveness in our culture. ”

These 24 half hour lectures given by Professor David E. Sadava retired from Claremont McKenna College and City of Hope Medical Center in Duarte, California were very engaging and eye opening to me. I never attended college so this year as part of my audible membership I have decided to buy several of the Great Courses programs they offer. This was the first of my new subscription and I can tell I am already getting my credits worth!

Prof. Sadava explains DNA, genes and chromosomes so a layperson like me can understand them. He also helps us to understand how the knowledge of how they work will enrich life here on planet earth.


24 Lectures

1 Our Inheritance

2 Mendel and Genes

3 Genes and Chromosomes

4 The Search for the Gene—DNA

5 DNA Structure and Replication

6 DNA Expression in Proteins

7 Genes, Enzymes, and Metabolism

8 From DNA to Protein

9 Genomes

10 Manipulating Genes—Recombinant DNA

11 Isolating Genes and DNA

12 Biotechnology—Genetic Engineering

13 Biotechnology and the Environment

14 Manipulating DNA by PCR and Other Methods

15 DNA in Identification—Forensics

16 DNA and Evolution

17 DNA and Human Evolution

18 Molecular Medicine—Genetic Screening

19 Molecular Medicine—The Immune System

20 Molecular Medicine—Cancer

21 Molecular Medicine—Gene Therapy

22 Molecular Medicine—Cloning and Stem Cells

23 Genetics and Agriculture

24 Biotechnology and Agriculture

My favorite lectures were the medical ones where he explained the different ways genetics can help us either control diseases, eliminate diseases and cure disease. He also explained how many diseases are not caused by a single gene but by many so that it isn't as simple as replacing one gene and you are cured.

The PKU screening test done on all infants is a form of molecular dna testing. If your child tests positive you can keep the harmful effects in check by limiting protein in their food of a certain amino acid that builds up and could cause mental retardation. This test has been going on for at least 50 years.

Professor Sadava does warn of the careful testing that needs to be done before rushing a product to market. Let's say you create a wheat seed that grows faster and has additional fiber added into it's genetic structure. Sounds good, right? However, what if by doing this it creates an allergy in 50 per cent of the population to wheat? Then it's properties are no longer worthwhile or profitable. He used as an example a case of early gene therapy in a boy with cancer that they tried to change his cancer cells into healthy cells but instead of curing the boy the bodies white blood cells fought back and killed him because they could not recognize the new cells.

This is a great series of lectures given by an energetic and informative man for anyone interested in science and medicine. I know I learned a lot from it.
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- Kristi Richardson

Book Details

  • Release Date: 07-08-2013
  • Publisher: The Great Courses