Thursday, 17 January 2013, 6:00PM
Barnard's Inn Hall

Incest and Folk-Dancing: Two things to be avoided

Professor Steve Jones

How closely are we related to each other, and how recently do we all share an ancestor? The answer to those questions is: closer and more recently than you might think.

Professor Jones discusses patterns of relatedness in ancient and modern populations and how they can be measured from the records, from surnames, and - more and more - from the DNA. The pedigree hidden in every genome reveals some quite unexpected patterns of kinship and suggests that some may be very relevant to the chances of disease. However, the evidence that close kinship is breaking down is, in this modern and mobile world, very persuasive and it may be that the most important event in human evolution, and even in human health, was the invention of the bicycle.

 

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Professor Steve Jones is Emeritus Professor of Genetics at University College London and an author of several popular science books. He is one of the world's top six experts on the genetics of snails (and the other five agree) and has also studied the genetics and evolution of fruit flies and humans.

Professor Jones was born in 1944 in Aberystwyth, Wales, and has degrees from the University of Edinburgh and University of Chicago. Much of his academic research has been concerned with snails and the light their anatomy can shed on biodiversity and genetics. He is Professor of genetics at Galton Laboratory of University College London, and has had visiting posts at Harvard University, the University of Chicago, the University of California at Davis, University of Botswana, Fourah Bay College in Sierra Leone, and Flinders University in Adelaide.

Professor Jones is probably best known to the general public as a regular broadcaster and writer of popular books on scientific issues. He gave the 1991 Reith Lecture on "The Language of the Genes", has written and presented a Radio 3 series on science and the arts, "Blue Skies", and a TV series on human genetics, "In the Blood". He also appears on other radio and TV programmes, such as Today, Question Time, Late Review and Newsnight , and writes a regular column in The Daily Telegraph, "View from the Lab".

His many books include Genetics for Beginners (Icon Books), The Language of the Genes (HarperCollins), In The Blood (HarperCollins), Almost like a Whale: The Origin of Species Updated (Anchor Books), Y: the Descent of Men (Little, Brown).

All of Professor Jones's past Gresham lectures can be accessed here.

Current Gresham Professor of Genetics

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17 January 2013

Incest and Folk-Dancing: Two things to be avoided
Professor Steve Jones

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