Frank J. Slack, Yale University

For the past 40 years, our understanding of biology has been driven by a certain set of rules known as “the central dogma”, which describes how the blueprint of life is encoded on DNA, which passages this information as RNA which is eventually read out as protein. Proteins have long been known to be the workhorses of the cell and it is proteins that in turn regulate the use of the DNA and RNA. At least one of these central tenants has required a revision in the past decade or so as biologist begin to appreciate the regulatory roles played by RNAs themselves. Long relegated to the passive role of messenger for the DNA, it is now clear that RNA performs many of the functions once thought solely in the domain of the proteins. One class of regulatory RNAs leading the charge is made up of very small molecules called microRNAs. MiRNAs are key regulators of gene usage during organ formation and development and miRNAs present a paradigm shift in thinking about gene regulation during development and disease. The human genome approximately one thousand microRNAs. These RNAs control gene usage and protect us from the ravages of viral infections and cancer, among other things. Their recent discovery has electrified the biological community as we try to understand how small RNAs work in gene regulation, and determine how we can harness this technology to provide therapies for human disease and power tools to dissect biological processes.

# Uploaded 258 Plays / / 0 Comments Watch in Couch Mode


Kavli Frontiers of Science PRO

This channel contains session presentations that cover biological topics from the Kavli Frontiers of Science symposium series of the National Academy of Sciences.

For additional symposium information, please visit our web site (

Browse This Channel

Shout Box

  • Julio Molina Montenegro
    What shapes the questions asked by scientific researchers?
    As part of the series A Portrait of a Question, this short documentary explores Dr. Kevin McGhee's interest in schizophrenia and how fruit flies can help identify some of the genetic factors behind this brain disorder.

    by Julio Molina Montenegro

Channels are a simple, beautiful way to showcase and watch videos. Browse more Channels. Channels