Science in the Courtroom Program 2: Recombinant DNA and Gene Cloning

Sponsored by the Federal Judicial Center

This is the second of six programs in the FJC’s Science in the Courtroom series. Professor Edward S. Mocarski, Jr., of Stanford University Medical School, builds upon his lecture in Part One of the series (Core Concepts of Microbiology) by explaining the basic recombinant DNA and gene-cloning methods used in the field of biotechnology. Mocarski explains how the universality of the genetic code makes it possible for scientists to recombine DNA, that is, take DNA from one organism and move it into another. He also explains how recombinant DNA concepts are used in the “expression” of human proteins into bacteria, a process in which a human coding sequence is taken and inserted into a bacterial context, allowing the bacteria to produce abundant supplies of a “foreign protein” (foreign to the bacteria) that can be of commercial and therapeutic use.

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