Discover the Big Questions around the latest scientific discoveries

The science that will impact your life years from now is being pioneered by visionaries today. Do you know what jaw-dropping discoveries are being made, who’s making them, and why? World-renowned ethicist Insoo Hyun engages a science luminary in a compelling, intimate conversation exploring the ripple effects that recent groundbreaking discoveries and advancements have on the very existence of humanity. Each episode is anchored by one "Big Question" around the latest scientific discoveries.

Insoo demystifies the science, deftly unraveling the benefits and challenges of each guest’s work. Each episode is a portrait colored by our guests’ scientific contribution to humanity and their personal stories and passions that led them on a path to groundbreaking discovery and accomplishment. Science happens at the pace of change and "The Big Question" is your guide to keep up.

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What is the future of Engineering with Bioengineering Pioneer Donald E Ingber

Is biological inspiration the key to the future of engineering? Bioethicist Insoo Hyun sits down with Donald E Ingber, Founding Director of the Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering and Professor of Bioengineering at Harvard's School of Engineering & Applied Sciences. Together they explore the profound impact of nature on engineering beyond the realms of cold, hard mathematics. The fusion of scientific disciplines is driving advancements that were once thought to be the domain of science fiction.

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Can Ethics Limit Science? Synthetic Life Pioneer Craig Venter on Pushing Boundaries

Are there enough mavericks in science today? Bioethicist Insoo Hyun and geneticist Craig Venter delve into this question, discussing the balance between ethics and innovation. Venter, renowned for his contributions to sequencing the human genome and creating synthetic life, engages in a comprehensive conversation about the purpose of science and the moral considerations it entails. This discussion offers an insightful examination of how ethical considerations impact scientific progress, shedding light on the intricacies of modern genetic research.

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Right to Try Unproven Therapies with George Q. Daley, Dean of Harvard Medical School

The right to try unproven therapies for patients facing life-threatening diseases is a complex issue in medicine. George Q. Daley, Dean of Harvard Medical School, emphasizes the institution's role in shaping innovative physicians while acknowledging ethical concerns surrounding unproven treatments. He and Bioethicist Insoo Hyun explore the emotional and spiritual factors that complicate the topic, recognizing that real-life decisions for seriously ill patients and their families go beyond academic arguments.

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Using Living Cells to Make Biological Robots: MIT Engineer Ritu Raman on Her Pioneering Work

Can biological robots be used to benefit society without inviting dystopian scenarios commonly portrayed in science fiction? Ethicist and Philosopher Insoo Hyun asks this big question to mechanical engineer Ritu Raman. Ritu’s research is focused on restoring mobility for individuals who've lost it due to illness or trauma using an innovative approach that merges living cells with engineered structures to build muscle-powered robots. Ritu believes biological robots can play a role in helping to restore ways in which humans rely on a combination of skeletal muscle and the nervous system to navigate our dynamic world.

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Infertility and Birth Defect Research Breakthrough: Magdalena Zernicka-Goetz on her Embryo Model

What can be done to prevent miscarriage and birth defects during the critical first few weeks of pregnancy? Insoo Hyun, renowned bioethicist and philosopher, sits down with Magdalena Zernicka-Goetz from Caltech and the University of Cambridge to discuss her important work that peers into the so-called “black box” of pregnancy. Zernicka-Goetz and her team have created stem cell-derived models of human embryos in the lab. This breakthrough will help scientists uncover the causes of genetic disorders as well as understand why and how pregnancies fail during the mysterious "black box" period of pregnancy.

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American Psychiatric Association President on Mental Health Challenges

Join Insoo Hyun, a renowned bioethicist and philosopher, and Dr. Rebecca Brendel, director of Harvard Medical School’s Center for Bioethics and 2022-2023 president of the American Psychiatric Association, in a thought-provoking conversation about the mental health crisis in the United States. In this comprehensive discussion, they explore various topics such as the need for a public mental health infrastructure, the scarcity of mental health professionals, the impact of the pandemic on mental health, the significance of discussing mental illness openly, social media's effect on mental health, and inclusivity in mental health.

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Using Human Brain Cells in Rats to Understand Psychiatric Disorders with Dr. Sergiu Pasca

The journal Nature published a groundbreaking new study by world-renowned Stanford neuroscientist Sergiu Pasca involving the transfer of human brain organoids into the brains of rats. Insoo Hyun, Director of the Center for Life Sciences and Public Learning at the Museum of Science, speaks candidly with Dr. Pasca about his research. Why did he do it? How might this uncover the mysteries of psychiatric disorders? And the Big Question we are all wondering about – can these rats ever develop “human-like” consciousness? Together they demystify the science.

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