Science in the Courtroom Program 1: Core Concepts of Microbiology

Sponsored by the Federal Judicial Center

This is the first of six programs in the FJC’s Science in the Courtroom series. After Justice Stephen Breyer introduces the series, Professor Edward S. Mocarski, Jr., of Stanford University Medical School, provides an overview of key concepts in basic microbiology. He explains the universality of the genetic code (i.e., how genes are made up of molecules of DNA), how DNA’s four bases are common to all organisms, and how the arrangement of those bases dictates the differences in organisms. Professor Mocarski describes the scientific understanding of how DNA can be copied or reproduced by an intermediary, RNA, and “expressed” into proteins that carry out the work of life. This is the basic “molecular dogma” used by scientists to understand how to manipulate genes in processes of gene therapy, genetic engineering, and gene cloning.

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