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The Building Blocks of Life and Intelligence

Anne McElvoy talks to the developmental biologist Alison Woollard, surgeon Roger Kneebone, psychologist Kathryn Asbury and conductor Sir Mark Elder.

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.

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43 minutes

Last on

Mon 9 Dec 2013 21:30

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


Role Contributor
Presenter Anne McElvoy
Interviewed Guest Alison Woollard
Interviewed Guest Roger Kneebone
Interviewed Guest Mark Elder
Producer Katy Hickman


  • Mon 9 Dec 2013 09:00
  • Mon 9 Dec 2013 21:30