Medical science is moving faster than ever. While researchers and scientists labor tirelessly for new insights, our collective knowledge of human biology allows us to treat some of the world’s most complex diseases. However, one recent development ranks among the most significant in history — our ability to map, understand, and engineer the human genome.
This month, explore the scientific breakthroughs that have completely changed the trajectory of the biological field. In a brand-new, two-part documentary series, Ken Burns Presents The Gene: An Intimate Historyweaves together a comprehensive biography of the human genome. Adapted from the award-winning book by Dr. Siddhartha Mukherjee, the four-hour documentary chronicles the evolution of genetic science from its origins in the nineteenth century to its astonishing applications today.
The first episode focuses on the present-day story of the Rosens, a family in search of a cure for their four-year-old daughter’s rare genetic disease. To contextualize the issue, the documentary introduces the groundbreaking discoveries of early pioneers, as well as the morally-ambiguous experiments that would shape ethical discussions for years to come.
The second episode begins with the signature scientific achievement of our time — the mapping of the human genome. As scientists learn more about genetic code, they grapple with the inherent dangers of interfering with DNA and reckon with the implications of our newfound capabilities.
Written by Barak Goodman and executive produced by Ken Burns, the series offers a fascinating look at the study, diagnosis, and treatment of genetic conditions.
Ken Burns Presents The Gene: An Intimate History airs in two parts, coming to Rhode Island PBS on May 14 and 21 at 9 p.m.
WSBE Rhode Island PBS transmits over the air on digital 36.1; on Cox 08 / 1008HD, Verizon FiOS 08 / 508HD, Full Channel 08; Comcast 819HD, Verizon FiOS 18 / 518HD; on satellite: DirecTV 36, Dish Network 36. WSBE Learn transmits over the air on digital 36.2; Cox 808, Verizon FiOS 478, Full Channel 989; Comcast 294 or 312.