The Frameshift

A podcast about genomics, bioethics, and the future of our species.

Released Podcast Episodes

#02 Eric Juengst — Medical Genetics and Reproductive Decision Making

#01 Nancy King — Gene Editing, Enhancement, and the Purview of Biotechnologies

About The Podcast


Declining DNA sequencing costs have created a deluge of genetic data. In the past decade, these data have been used to construct genetic predictors of complex, polygenic traits—that is, traits controlled by many genes. These genetic predictors, called polygenic scores or polygenic risk scores (PGS or PRS for short), are rapidly improving and will continue to improve as further data are collected.

In this podcast, we’ll explore the many clinical applications of PGS and related genomic technologies, including:

Technical and Ethical Complexity

These technologies have the potential to save millions of lives and radically reduce disease incidence. But they also have the potential to make indelible changes to the collective human gene pool or cause an ecological disaster. It is an understatement to say these technologies are ethically and technically complex.

To fully grasp them, one needs to understand many topics, among them:

The State of the Conversation

There is a distinct lack of serious, nuanced conversations about the intersection of genomic technologies and bioethics (save for a couple of exceptions). I believe this is for a few reasons:

However, given that these technologies are on the horizon, if not already here, such conversations are sorely needed. (And demurral on these topics won’t stop these technologies from progressing and eventually being used, whether in the US or abroad.)

Podcast Purpose

The purpose of the podcast is twofold:

  1. To help the listener develop a scientific and ethical framework for understanding cutting-edge genomic technologies.
  2. To expand the scope of conversations we have about genomics and bioethics, so that we, as a culture, can collectively determine the use of such technologies.

My hope is that the podcast will begin some difficult but necessary conversations, ones about issues that will define the future of our species.