Public Health Genetics Week | Day 5

May 28, 2021
2:00pm Eastern Time
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Join Maryland Public Television and partnering PBS stations across the country for day five of a multi-day film screening of THE GENE: AN INTIMATE HISTORY, a documentary from Ken Burns and Bark Goodman.

Today we will show The Gene Explained, the companion animated series that clear ups a few mysteries about how genes work, how they make us, if we can change them and what they might look like in the future.

The film screening is a collaboration between the National Coordinating Center for the Regional Genetics Network (NCC) and local PBS stations in celebration of Public Health Genetics Week (May 24-28). Partnering PBS Stations include Alabama Public Television, GPB, KLRN, MPT, South Florida PBS, WCTE, WETA, WQLN, WQPT and WXXI.

Public health genetics applies genetic and genomic information to improve public health and prevent disease. More information about Public Health Genetics Week and this series of interactive online screening events can be found at

Production funding for KEN BURNS PRESENTS THE GENE: AN INTIMATE HISTORY has been provided by Genentech, 23andMe, Cancer Treatment Centers of America, Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, Gray Foundation, American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) & Conquer Cancer Foundation, Judy and Peter Blum Kovler Foundation, Craig and Susan McCaw Foundation, and the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. The Outreach and Education Partner is National Institutes of Health, National Human Genome Research Institute. Outreach support is provided by Foundation Medicine.

Video Descriptions

PHGW Day 5 Pre-Show Slides

PHGW Day 5

The Gene Explained | Gene Filled Donuts

We know that genes are the instructions that make us who we are, but how do genes do that? This episode gives a quick glance into how those mysterious instructions buried in a gene become the actual nose on a face.

The Gene Explained | Good Genes Gone Bad

In this episode, we visit Liver Town to see how a few over-active cells can ruin a perfectly good neighborhood. We look at the causes for this disease, commonly known as cancer, and mention a couple of ways to calm down those good genes that have gone bad.

The Gene Explained | What the Gene Is That?

DNA spells the instructions for every living thing we know about with just four letters. In this episode, we'll see how scientists are expanding the DNA alphabet that could show us what to look for in the search for E.T.

The Gene Explained | Gene Whiz! It's a Boy!

If you're curious about the origin of boys, look no further than the Y chromosome and how it contributes not only to making a boy in utero but regulates brain functions and heart health for that boy's whole life.

The Gene Explained | Invasion of the Gene Snatchers

How do viruses work? Sort of like aliens that invade cells and take them over. They do that enough times, and you’ve got a big ol’ problem on your hands. In this episode, learn how a virus invades and what it does to not only kill a cell but create a sort of infectious bomb that contaminates other cells.

The Gene Explained | Is That a Banana in Your Genes?

It’s true that the banana and the slug are our genetic relatives, and so is everything else. But what does that mean? Which parts of our genes are related and just how much overall do we have in common with a banana and as science advances, how will that affect future fruit baskets?

The Gene Explained | Gene Damage

What goes on in our DNA to make us grow grey hair, wrinkles and less than healthy DNA? In this episode, meet the workforce of proteins and enzymes in control of cell division and gene copying, and learn how damage can happen during cell-duplication, exposure to radiation or chemicals, other environmental variables like stress, diet, and even aging.

Student Genetics Video Contest

Calling all students! Are you interested in science and genetics? Maryland Public Television wants you to submit a video explaining genetics concepts for a chance to win a school supply scholarship! Deadline June 15, 2021!

28min 34sec



  • Lila Aiyar, MS, CGC

    Lila Aiyar is a Certified Genetic Counselor working for the Western States Regional Genetics Network in public health genetics, and provides pediatric genetic counseling services in Hawai'i.

  • Joann Bodurtha, MD, MPH

    Joann Bodurtha MD MPH is a Professor of Genetic Medicine, Pediatrics, and Oncology at Johns Hopkins School of Medicine. Dr. Bodurtha sees patient of all ages and their families, co-directs NYMAC - the New York Mid Atlantic Caribbean Regional Genetics Collaborative, co-leads the biological mechanisms core theme of the Genes to Society JHSOM curriculum, and does research in risk communication.

  • Mat Edick, PhD

    Mathew J. Edick, PhD, received his doctorate in cancer pharmacogenomics from the University of Tennessee and completed postdoctoral training at the Van Andel Research Institute and Michigan State University in cancer cell biology. Dr. Edick is currently the Director of the Center for Strategic Health Partnerships at Michigan Public Health Institute. His work brings together diverse stakeholders at the intersection of clinical research and public health to solve issues related to access to healthcare and poor health outcomes for medically underserved communities.

  • Maximilian Muenke, MD, FACMG

    Recognized as a highly acclaimed physician-scientist and dedicated clinical and research mentor, Dr. Muenke brings more than three decades of experience to the ACMG, including 10 years on the faculty of the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine. Since 2000, Dr. Muenke has served as Senior Investigator, Head of the Human Development Section, and Chief of the Medical Genetics Branch at the National Human Genome Research Institute (NHGRI) of the National Institutes of Health (NIH). He joined ACMG as CEO in October 2019.

  • Karen Volle

    Karen Volle is the Project Manager for the New England Regional Genetics Network (NERGN) at the Institute on Disability / University of New Hampshire (IOD/UNH). Ms. Volle has been with UNH since 2008. Prior to that Ms. Volle worked for roughly 20 years in the human services non-profit sector. She helped develop and run a program to assist the police in handling cases of child abuse/neglect and juvenile crime. Ms. Volle learned to look across systems as well as to manage day to day activities, and she now uses those skills with NERGN. Ms. Volle wears another hat as well, since she has a genetic condition in her own family. As one of seven Regional Genetic Networks funded by HRSA, NERGN’s goal is to improve access to quality genetic services through partnerships with families and family-led organizations, providers, public health and others. NERGN also aims to address health equity by connecting diverse communities with genetic services and other broad support.

  • Megan Lyon, MPH

    Megan Lyon is the Senior Program Manager of the National Coordinating Center for the Regional Genetics Networks (NCC). In this role, Ms. Lyon supports the RGNs and helps develop tools and resources that can be used by healthcare providers to help improve access to genetic services. Ms. Lyon received her Masters of Public Health (MPH) in Health Policy at The George Washington University.

  • Alita McCalmon, M.Ed.

    Senior Manager of Education, National Programming at WETA

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The views and opinions expressed in this online screening are those of the presenters and participants, and do not necessarily reflect the views or policies of ITVS, public broadcasting, or any entities hosting the screening.