13 intriguing podcasts about DNA and genetic science
Whether you are killing time at home, looking for something to fall asleep to, or pre-loading your phone for that long-hoped-for road trip, there’s good news for those who love podcasts: there are tons of good ones these days, especially if you’re interested in learning about DNA.
Podcasts are having a moment and you can find one on almost any topic. But, if you just search “DNA podcasts,” you get a lot of stuff with DNA in the title that has nothing to do with actual deoxyribonucleic acid—there are pods for the DNA of resume writing, the DNA of weight loss, the DNA of the perfect golf swing, culture DNA, and so on. If you are interested in DNA and the human genome, here’s a quick list of some of the best.
DNA Today: Produced by WHUS in Connecticut, this widely available podcast has interviews with well-known people in the field, book reviews, news stories, and event coverage, all centered around advances in the world of genetics. DNA Today is one of the oldest in the field, tracing its founding to 2012.
The Gene Gap: Common Threads: This new podcast from The Guardian explores new gene editing technologies, their wonderful promise, and their frightening dark side.
Cutoff Genes: Cutoff Genes—get it?—investigates consumer DNA testing, and what it can tell you beyond your ethnicity. The series—it’s now nearly at 100 episodes—confronts issues around DNA testing and heritage, adoption, genealogy, crime, personal legacies, and DNA matches.
Research Like a Pro: This podcast is about genealogy research, but episodes often focus on DNA. DNA-related topics have included chromosome browsers, pedigree triangulation, research methodologies, the best DNA tests and how to use the results, and DNA matches.
Genetic Counselors and You: Created by the National Society of Genetic Counselors, this infrequently-updated podcast digs into, well, genetic counseling—what a genetic counselor is, how to find one, how one can help you, how much the counseling costs, and what you should expect after seeing one.
Nature: Brought to you by the same folks behind Nature, the scientific journal, this well-crafted prolific pod discusses the journal’s articles on a rather pedestrian level. Topics are broad, with recent subjects covering immunizations, 3D printers, the detection of gravitational waves, and quantum supremacy in ancient mammals.
Just Science: Just Science—the double meaning of the name is intentional—walks the line between science and a true crime series. Tune in to hear about statistical approaches to evidence, skeletal remains identification, and a discussion of who owns arrestee DNA.
BBC Inside Science: This wide-ranging series from the U.K. tends to follow in-the-news topics, including the use of AI to screen new antibiotics, mutational signatures in cancer, science’s reproducibility crisis, and the hidden history of our DNA.
BBC Discovery: Sister to Inside Science, this abundant podcast—there are more than 1,000 episodes—looks into the story behind everyday science, from a professor who made a recent important virus discovery to the risks of stem cell injections and new lifesaving drugs that are interfering with genes.
Spit: Another pod to capitalize on the popularity of personal DNA testing, this blog is produced in cooperation with testing company 23andMe and tackles big questions surrounding DNA testing, from inherited diseases to privacy in the digital DNA age.
Naked Genetics: Brought to you by the Naked Scientists, which have a cluster of podcasts and science shows, Naked Genetics delves into the latest news and breakthroughs in the world of genetics and DNA. Updated about once a month (though currently apparently on hiatus) recent shows have looked into mammoth DNA, the future of forensic genetics, genes and dementia, and more.
Half of Me: In early 2019 a woman named Ally had a DNA test to see how Irish she actually was. It turned out per parents were not who she thought they were, and she has 14 half-siblings she has never met. This podcast is her story.
Genetics Unzipped: Brought to you by the Genomics Society, this pod has recent episodes investigating genetic fingerprinting, the “perfect genome,” and how scientists learned to spell the genetic alphabet.