Sir Walter F. Bodmer: from R.A. Fisher to genomics

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Three of R.A. Fisher’s Ph.D. students remain active today, C. R Rao at age 101 and A. W. F. Edwards, and W. F. Bodmer, both 86. Bodmer was not only a student of Fisher, the cofounder of both population genetics and modern statistics, he was also mentored by Joshua Lederberg, the 1958 winner of the Nobel Prize in Medicine for his work in bacterial genetics. With more than 60 years in science, Bodmer joins Razib on this episode of Unsupervised Learning to discuss everything from his recollections of Fisher, Lederberg and Cavalli-Sforza, to the recent cancellation controversy around his Ph.D. advisor.

Over the course of the hour, they go on to discuss what has surprised Bodmer about the trajectory of genetics over the past few decades (he thinks the recent “completion of the human genome” is a bit overhyped), his continuing passion for the HLA loci (which are notably difficult to map genomically), the People of the British Isles Project, as well as his current interest in cancer genomics. Bodmer’s massive public record spans the history of much of modern genomics, from work on linkage and recombination in the 1960s to being part of the 1000 Genomes Project in the 2010’s.

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