In this talk, Dennis Lo, recipient of the 2022 Lasker~DeBakey Clinical Medical Research Award, guides listeners through his research into circulating DNA. The fluid portion of blood—the plasma—contains DNA released from different cell types within the body. For example, during pregnancy, the fetus will release its DNA into the blood stream of the pregnant mother. Through the testing of such plasma DNA, the genetic health of the fetus can be investigated without risks associated with invasive techniques such as amniocentesis. As another example, tumor cells also release their DNA into the plasma of cancer patients. Through the testing of blood plasma, genomic aberrations of the tumor can be ascertained and earlier detection of certain cancers has become possible. Circulating DNA is thus a window into our health and allows valuable healthcare information to be obtained non-invasively and safely.

You can view the recorded lecture below. The 2022 Lasker Public Lecture was originally presented live on October 25 and was co-hosted with the Secret Science Club, a non-profit dedicated to fostering connections between research scientists and the public.

This special lecture was supported by an anonymous donation made in honor of Lasker Foundation board member Alfred (Al) Sommer, recipient of the 1997 Albert Lasker Clinical Medical Research Award and Dean Emeritus at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. Lasker Public Lectures promote dialogue between curious, engaged individuals and some of the most accomplished scientists in the world.

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