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The Building Blocks of Life and Intelligence

43 minutes
First broadcast:
Monday 09 December 2013

On Start the Week Anne McElvoy talks to the geneticist Alison Woollard about the extraordinary developments in biological science in the last decade, and how switching on and off certain genes could improve and extend life. The psychologist Kathryn Asbury studies the vexed question of nature and nurture, and whether a better understanding of genetic influence can improve children's education. Professor Roger Kneebone explains the role of jazz improvisation in the operating theatre, and what recreating surgery from the 1980s can teach modern clinicians. Raiding the past for hidden gems fascinates the conductor Sir Mark Elder as he prepares to bring operatic rarities to a new audience.

Producer: Katy Hickman.

  • Alison Woollard

    Alison Woollard

    Alison Woollard is a University Lecturer in Genetics in the Biochemistry Department at the University of Oxford.


    Alison is giving this year’s Royal Institution Christmas Lectures, Life Fantastic, which will be broadcast on BBC Four on 28, 29 and 30 December at 8.00pm.


    Alison Woollard


    Life Fantastic - Royal Institution Christmas Lectures

  • Kathryn Asbury

    Kathryn Asbury is Lecturer in Psychology in Education at the University of York.


    G is for Genes: The Impact of Genetics on Education and Achievement, co-written with Robert Plomin, is published by Wiley Blackwell.


    Kathryn Asbury

  • Roger Kneebone

    Roger Kneebone is Professor of Surgical Education at Imperial College London.


    Roger Kneebone

  • Sir Mark Elder

    Sir Mark Elder is Music Director of the Hallé, a Principal Artist of the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment and Artistic Director of Opera Rara.


    Mark is conducting the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment in association with Opera Rara performing Offenbach’s Fantasio on Sunday 15 December at the Royal Festival Hall.


    Sir Mark Elder


Anne McElvoy
Interviewed Guest
Alison Woollard
Interviewed Guest
Roger Kneebone
Interviewed Guest
Mark Elder
Katy Hickman


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    Start the Week

    Start The Week sets the cultural agenda for the week ahead, with high-profile guests discussing the…

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