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Essential Pittsburgh: Pitt Chemist Alters Genes With Light


Gene manipulation by scientists has been taking place for a while. Joining us in studio is Pitt chemist Alexander Deiters who’s had a breakthrough in this area. He is the first to create a light tool for gene editing. We’ll discover how it works and what it means for the future of gene research.

Deiters explains how they target a gene in order to manipulate it: 

"Nothing is 100% perfect, so you always have effects on to other genes, which is certainly not desirable. If you have that systemic in your entire body it could cause significant problems, but if you could limit that to certain locations like cancer for example you may be able to minimize these off target effects using light as a trigger for genetics." -Alexander Deiters

Also in the program, the book "We Could Not Fail" tells the story of the first African Americans in the space program, set in the formative years of the Space Age and prior to the Civil Rights Act. 

We Could Not Fail (starts at 10:32)

The story of the first African-Americans in the space program is told in a new book called "We Could Not Fail." The story begins during the formative years of the Space Age which came before the Civil Rights Act. President Kennedy had chosen Federal employment as his key tool to force integration at precisely the time NASA and its contractors were creating 200,000 new jobs in Alabama, Florida, Texas, Mississippi and Louisiana. Co-author Richard Paul joins us to  look at NASA's role in the integration of the Southern Federal workforce and focuses on the struggle endured by the space program's first African-American employees. 

Post-Game Penalties in the NFL (starts at 40:38)

How should the Patriots have to answer for "Deflategate?" What are the appropriate penalties for cheating in the NFL? Sports 'n 'at writer Bob Dvorchak weighs in.

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