Wherever there is life, there is DNA. Ewan Birney, of the European Bioinformatics Institute, gives a whistle-stop tour of the many practical uses of DNA. A new development is to encode DNA to store digital data: compared with electronic storage, it is far more space-efficient and long-lasting. As an early proof of concept, Ewan and his team wrote Shakespeare’s sonnets into a smudge of DNA.
Ewan Birney is Director of EMBL-EBI with Dr Rolf Apweiler, and runs a small research group. Ewan played a vital role in annotating the genome sequences of human, mouse, chicken and several other organisms; this work has had a profound impact on our understanding of genomic biology. He led the analysis group for the ENCODE project, which is defining functional elements in the human genome. Ewan’s main areas of research include functional genomics, assembly algorithms, statistical methods to analyse genomic information (in particular information associated with individual differences) and compression of sequence information.
Ewan completed his PhD at the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute. He has received a number of prestigious awards, including the 2003 Francis Crick Award from the Royal Society. Ewan was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society in 2014 and a Fellow of the Academy of Medical Sciences in 2015. @ewanbirney
This talk was given at a TEDx event using the TED conference format but independently organized by a local community. Learn more at http://ted.com/tedx