Twenty minutes southeast of Des Moines, Iowa, you’ll find a large, unassuming cement complex with fenced in grounds. You’d never know it, but inside are five bonobos—including the world-famous Kanzi—thought to be the only remaining nonhuman apes capable of communicating verbally with humans. We speak with Dr. Sue Savage-Rumbaugh about what she’s learned from and about bonobos, humankind’s gentle cousins, during an extraordinarily ambitious, 30-year investigation into their minds.
Dr. Peter Godfrey-Smith is professor of History and Philosophy of Science at the University of Sydney and the author of Other Minds: The Octopus, The Sea, and The Deep Origins of Consciousness. We discuss how our distant evolutionary cousins, cephalopods, are challenging ancient assumptions about the nature of consciousness. For more information about the episode and about Dr. Godfrey-Smith’s work, visit whenwetalkaboutanimals.org.
A few years ago, our guest, Dr. Natalie Kofler, was completing her postdoctoral training in molecular biology at Yale University. She was actively using CRISPR gene-editing technology to study the mammalian cardiovascular system to try to develop better tools to treat human vascular diseases. While attending talks on conservation biology at the Yale School of Forestry, she started to wonder: Could the invasive emerald ash borer be genetically edited with these same techniques to save American ash trees? Could coral reefs be genetically edited to be more resilient to warming waters? Should humans develop and use these technologies to change nature? If so, how? And who gets to decide?
Today Dr. Kofler is a leading thinker on these questions and an important voice on the potential environmental applications of gene-editing technologies — technologies that have the extraordinary potential to end malaria or to suppress Lyme disease, but also to change or delete entire species and to transform life in previously unimaginable ways. To think clearly about their use, she says, forces us to rethink who we are, to define what is important to us, and to reconsider how far our human knowledge of nature’s interconnectedness extends. Dr. Kofler serves as founding director of Editing Nature, a Yale University initiative that works to explore the potential environmental applications of newly developed and developing gene editing technologies, to promote public engagement around their use, and to strengthen the regulatory process to ensure these technologies are used responsibly. She is also the author of numerous scientific research papers, most recently as the lead author on a Science Magazine paper calling for a new global governance body to assure the just and informed evaluation of these technologies’ benefits and risks.
Listen as we are joined by Dr. Kristaps Keggi and Dr. Yetsa Tuakli-Wosornu in a conversation with our Editor-in-Chief about the importance of mentorship in medicine, the role looking back at the history of medicine has at its advancements, Yale’s surgical firsts and Yale’s role in technological innovations in orthopedics!
Conversations with thinkers whose work has challenged us to rethink our place in the animal kingdom. Subscribe on iTunes or Soundcloud.
They say you are what you eat… but are you, really? Tune in to hear about how food affects our physiology, the most eccentric fad diets, and more!
We will be following up our first episode by interviewing a neuroscientist studying the visual cortex, Dr. Jess Cardin from the Department of Neuroscience at Yale. We will discuss our current understanding of visual processing, the role of visual cortex, her research interests, and more.