Winding Your Way Through DNA Symposium
San Francisco, California
Saturday Morning, September 26, 1997
Elizabeth H. Blackburn, PhD
Professor of Microbiology and of Biochemistry at the University of
California, San Francisco.
In this morning's session we address new ways to use DNA. We are going
to talk about technological possibilities: those already realized, or
close to being realized, as well as looking at some possibilities for
the more distant future. We leave for this afternoon's session the
complex and important issues of how society should use these
This morning we discuss what these technologies can do to improve our
lives, and in outline, the session will go like this.
- David Golde will discuss the question, "How can DNA technology be
used to produce new therapies?"
- Barry Bloom will discuss the question, "What effects will DNA
technology have on health care both here and around the world?"
- Jerry Fink will talk about, "How can DNA technology be used to
increase our food supply?" and
- Maxine Singer will discuss specific examples which illustrate
how knowledge of our genes and their action has led to understanding
certain human illnesses and could lead eventually to curing them.
So, before we get down to the talks addressing these issues, I want to
make just one point. It is really the only point I want to make in
these brief introductory remarks but I really hope you'll take this
home. As you listen to this morning's discussions, you should really
keep in mind that these powerful technologies sprang directly from the
kind of basic research you heard about last night. The approaches
you'll hear about this morning didn't originate as applied research,
although, as Stan Cohen pointed out last night, the potential for
practical benefits emerged very early. Instead, the wellspring of much
of this technology was, and it continues to be, basic research aimed at
understanding the molecular mechanisms of life, and as you heard so
eloquently last night, it was the beauty and the excitement of this
basic research that drove many of the discoveries that are fundamental
to DNA technologies.
So, with our already powerful, although still very incomplete knowledge
of the molecular mechanisms of heredity and gene action in hand, how can
we manipulate this knowledge to provide positive contributions to
society? For example, other ways of strengthening the body's defenses
against diseases and cancer. Now perhaps recombinant DNA sounds like
something very abstract and far removed from this questions. It is
indeed a remarkable comment on the speed with which DNA technology has
moved from basic to clinical phases that our first speaker, Dr. David
Golde, a practicing physician, has already successfully treated patients
with recombinant DNA therapies.
Dr. Golde, as well as being a practicing physician, also heads the
division of Hematologic Oncology at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer
Center in New York City. He is widely regarded as a pioneer in
understanding how normal as well as cancerous blood cells develop, and
he was the first to show that special molecules that communicate between
the cells of our bodies could therapeutically regulate white blood cell
number and function in humans. We are delighted to welcome David Golde
to the Symposium today. He will talk about new weapons in the war