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Rockville Science Cafe – Can Genes Tell Us Who We Are?

September 17, 2019 @ 7:00 pm - 8:00 pm

In recent decades, genetics has become one of the most exciting and rapidly advancing areas of science. In the coming years, we can expect DNA sequencing to become commonplace, gene editing to provide viable cures for debilitating disorders, and genetics to become an integral part of your medical care. Many of us have already participated in this revolution, for example, by purchasing a genetic ancestry testing kit from 23andMe. You may have read about how a recreational DNA database was used to catch the Golden State Killer decades after his crime. In this Science Cafe, we will explore the social and ethical issues that arise with these developments in the field of genetics. These include but are not limited to: the relationships between your DNA and personal identity, histories of racism in genetics, health equity and access to genetic medicine, and whether we can edit the genes of future generations!

Julia Byeon
Julia completed her undergraduate degree at the University of Chicago and is currently a research fellow in the National Genome Research Institute (NHGRI) at the National Institutes of Health (NIH). Her research interests include the sociologies of science, knowledge, and medicine, the clinical and social experiences of individuals living with sickle cell disease, and the ways in which science can contribute to or alleviate social inequities. Her current research focuses on the history of the concept of “ethnicity” and “ethnic group” in the field of genetics and society more broadly.

Kayla Cooper
Kayla Cooper received dual Bachelor of Arts degrees in Spanish and Medicine, Health and Society from Vanderbilt University. Kayla is currently a research fellow at the National Genome Research Institute (NHGRI) at the National Institutes of Health (NIH). Her research focuses on the return of medically actionable genomic research results to low-resource (low-income, uninsured and underinsured) research participants, and psychosocial factors that impact individuals with sickle cell disease. Kayla is particularly interested in the intersection between communities of color and health policy surrounding their access to healthcare.

About the Rockville Science Café

Rockville Science Café meets every third Tuesday of the month. It features a scientist engaging and leading a discussion that encourages conversation, debate, and interaction. The presentation is free and open to the public. You may purchase a drink, dinner from the $20 “all included” prix fixe menu (including non-alcoholic drink and tip), or dinner from the full menu. There is free parking behind the restaurant.


September 17, 2019
7:00 pm - 8:00 pm
Event Category:


Trapezaria Mediterranean Kuzina
11 North Washington St.
Rockville, MD 20850
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