What is epigenetic and why knowing it will change your life ? – Dr Moshe Szyf


– [David] Hello, everybody. Today, I would
like to introduce you to an amazing guy. He’s a doctor. He’s Dr. Szyf who will talk
about epigenetics. You will learn about that if you don’t know. You will like it.
It’s amazing, so follow this interview. Hi.
– [Dr. Szyf] Hi, how are you doing? – I’m great, and you?
– Fine, fine. – I’m very glad to do interview with you
because we will be able to understand more success principles or relationship
principles and how you can explain us how it works. And what is epigenetics? – Epigenetics is what goes beyond the
genes. We can get our genes from our father and mother, and they’ve all been
human evolution for millions of years, very hard to change. And for long time,
genetic determinism thought that that’s it. You get a smart gene, you’ll become
smart. You get a stupid gene, you’ll become stupid. Cancer gene, you’ll get
cancer. And there was a tremendous effort in the last decade to map the genes. So we
will figure out who was going to get cancer and who is not, and if you remember
all the ads 10 years ago about human genome, the map, health life, and how they
will be able to figure out everything. The biggest frustration after we came when they try to understand human
disease. And although we have a few diseases, which we
call them Mendelianly inherited, that is if you get two copies from your father and
your mother of that defective gene, you’ll get a disease. A good example could be
familial Alzheimer’s. There are certain cancers that do that, but there
are very few. They represent a very, very small fraction
of human disease, and when they try to understand what causes schizophrenia or
what causes mental, other mental disorders, what causes Alzheimer’s, what
causes diabetes, they couldn’t find anything. – About the genes. – The genes, and they kept looking. So
when they couldn’t find, they say, “Okay, if we had 100,000 people, we’ll find it.”
So they 100,000 and they couldn’t find very strong signals. So they say, “Let’s
take a million people and we’ll find it.” And they tried and would get more money
from the government to look for more mapping. But the truth is that although,
of course, genes are the letters of the language, the language is not just
composed of letters, it is composed of sentences. So the sentences have to be
punctuated, and the punctuation marks are the epigenetics. They make sense out of
the genetic language. And what’s interesting about epigenetics, it really
has two components. One component is deciding whether your DNA will become a
liver or a heart or an eye or a leg, and that process which is fascinating by
itself that the same DNA could give you so many different things, right? An eye and a
heart is so different, but it still have exactly the same DNA. So somehow DNA
manages to program itself, to get those letters, those punctuations that will tell
us, “Now you do this and here you do that, and when you hit this, you do that.” And
that develops during gestation. When the embryo is in the womb of his mother or her
mother, they develop slowly what we call a pattern of epigenetics. So each DNA and
each cell has a completely different identity. So now, if you take a DNA from a
mommy that died 5,000 years ago, you can map the DNA so you’ll get the sequence so
you’ll know who the father and mother or what ethnic background they came from. But
you can also map those marks at very high accuracy and know what
tissue they came from. So I can look at a DNA and say, “Oh, this
comes from an eye. This comes from a gastrointestinal track.
This comes from a liver.” And so, our DNA has two identities. – Do they know the parents where
they come from? – So if you can look at the sequence,
you’ll know which parents they have, right? Because you’ll know if they are
Caucasians or Africans or within Africa, what… – Yeah, when I see parents, it’s… – You mean, if the DNA came from the
father or the mother? – No, I mean like when you have a tree,
you know the… – Genetic, the genetic tree?
– Yes. – Yes, of course. If you do good genetics,
you’ll be able to figure out who came from where, right?
– Yeah. – That’s for sure. But you will not know
whether that DNA comes from a liver or a kidney, that kidney to do epigenetics. So
for long time, we understood epigenetics. I have been working on it for 40 years,
but the big question was, is it deterministic too? Is it already
determined that after a while you’ll become an egg, or an eye, or a leg and you
can’t do anything about it. So when I was a student, the idea was that epigenetics
is like genetics, it’s predetermined. That means…
– So you can’t change anything? – You can’t change anything.
– You born one way and that’s it. – And the monkey and the humans all have
the same epigenetics and this is it, this is the finding evolutions. So three logics
then, this kind of thinking is good because you don’t have to bother. If
you’re born to a rich family, you’ll be rich. If you’re born to a poor family,
you’ll be poor. If you’re stupid, you’ll be stupid. – You can change anything. – You can change anything, life is good
and free. And I think Darwinist theory gave a lot of freedom to people, freedom
from religion, freedom from history, freedom from everything because it’s all
in the genes and you can blame them for everything. – Yeah, oh shit, I don’t have the right
genes to be happy. – Exactly, exactly, and people do it all
the time. Or in the worst case, you can develop racism. Because racism have good
genes would stay and the others should go. And for example, Nazi ideology used a lot
of this Darwinist thinking and trying to create the super race and to clean the
race from other races and things like that. So we can see how a Darwinist theory
determinist genetics, even though Darwin himself recognized, the genes are not
everything. He didn’t know what genes were but he recognized that there must be some
role for government. He just didn’t understand at all. But generally,
determinism had a huge impact on the 20th century thinking, and it’s still very
nominal in the way. – And how in the world when you started to
wonder about that? – So I started my PhD. I was studying
dentistry and I needed to get a doctorate in dentistry so I have to do some
research. So I met this guy who came from CalTech, Old Razin, and he found the first
DNA methylation group which is the basic epigenetic mark on a virus that infects
the E.coli. Sounds like talking foreign and irrelevant, but from this, the whole
thing started. And he asked me to find out how this works. And I asked him, “Why
should I find out how it works? It doesn’t sound to me very interesting. Why do I
care about a virus that infects E.coli and does nothing in the end?” And he says,
“Just because I’m curious.” And I asked him, “Is it important for cancer or for
something important?” And he says, “I don’t know and I don’t care.” But these
are the basic drives of science. Scientists don’t do things because they
want to cure cancer. They do things because they’re curious, eventually, that
leads to a cure to cancer. So that’s how we started, and then we were very
deterministic in the beginning. But I was bothered by this because most biochemical
reactions can go both ways. And if methylation can go both ways, the
epigenetic marks or biochemical reactions, then there should be a way to change it,
and then they should be affected by other things. So, the first suggestion I had
when I came to McGill was that that’s important I think cancer, that if indeed
those punctuation marks define how DNA works, perhaps this is how cancer is
driven. They change the codes and when you change the code, the computer will do
other things. – So you started with the kind of
questions, you were wondering a lot of questions? – Yes, especially about cancer, because
the dominant philosophy in cancer at that time was that it’s alternate. – And you love the question, what if
something different, right? – Yeah.
– Okay. – And I’m also an anarchist so I don’t
like dogmas and what I hated about science is that everything was acknowledged, and
in spite of the fact that people think about scientists as free-thinking people
and curious, most of scientists are highly dogmatic. So if somebody decided that
epigenetic marks don’t change and we’ll talk specifically about a chemical pulping
of DNA which we call methylation. So that’s a very small chemical that is added
to DNA by enzymes. It’s biochemical reaction during development. And their
idea was that it’s added and it stains and it never goes away. And I ask why, why,
and they said, “Because it dissolves.” And so, if you try to publish a paper that
questions that, they will kill your paper or kill your grant, or not give you a job. Right. So scientist very interesting
ways to create dogma that everybody follows, and what’s dangerous about dogma,
it misleads you to think that actually you’re proving the dogma, right? Because
then evidence against, you will ignore. – You research some would think to prove
well, you are true. – Right. And what is interesting also, if
you send a paper to publish that fits the dogma, it’s very easy to get it published.
But if you send a paper that is against the dogma, nobody will publish it. So
essentially, the dogma perpetuates itself, and you can build a whole building of
carts because of the way scientific structures work. And really… – So, it is training people to
find things before? – Yes, yes, using better technology.
Technology, scientists love, but they don’t love ideas. They like to stick to
the same ideas. At some point, ideas takeover like Darwinist theory and that’s
it, nobody will question it, and anybody questions it becomes an anti-science. – It’s very interesting because you
started to have to question, to have questions and a lot of people stopped to
do that because they want to be loved by, so how did you overcome the
criticism of people? – Oh, there was a lot of trouble. It
wasn’t easy and it’s still not easy. Scientists are, it’s like a social group
that loves to love each who fits with the ideas that they have. It’s exactly like
any herd that has… – Then why did you have the power or the
strength… – To ask questions. – …to continue, because you can stop to
ask question and, “Okay, okay, yes, doc.” – Yeah, and that’s what most people do.
That’s how we kill our students, right? Most students come and ask questions. – Yeah, and children asks questions. – Yeah, and then we gradually train them
not to ask questions. Oh, ask questions that are legitimate questions. Yeah,
everybody ask questions in science but they have to legitimate within the
boundaries of what’s defined legitimate. But a lot of it also has to do with
structure of universities that essentially replace the church. And the basic ideas
and the basic religions was that there is a truth, there is an ultimate truth. And
the role of the priest or the minister is to make sure that that truth is
transmitted. – The people? – Perpetuated, and to build inquisitions,
what is an inquisition? Essentially, inquisition was built to make sure that
priests don’t deviate from the dogma. They don’t teach things that are against what
they conceive was biblical thinking. And so there are institutions that do that and
make sure that the dogma is perpetuated. And essentially, science replaced as the
church and Darwin is into logics that move away the bible by giving a theory of life
that was alternative to the biblical theory. And then again, the same
institutions are now keeping that in order. So, it was very tough to suggest
that it’s possible the genes are not everything, and that can change in a
non-deterministic way, that means in response to the environment. And actually,
the first person who suggested that was Lamarck who actually suggested the theory
of evolution before Darwin. And by the way, he wrote in French and Darwin wrote
in English, which was a big difference and the Darwinist theory took over and Lamarck
then became almost different before. – So yeah, if I have an idea, I have to do
them, to write it in English. – There’s no question that if you write it
in English, you will get bigger audiences. And probably it wasn’t obvious when
Lamarck wrote, but eventually, English became the dominant language of the world.
And a lot of Lamarckian books are not even translated to English. So they were not
accessible to the general public, and most of Lamarckian theory was written by people
who speak French. – It’s amazing. – So yeah, and so, neither Lamarck or
Darwin understood what they were saying because they didn’t know the genes is
this, they didn’t understand how inherited of course, it was intuition. They both had
good intuitions, and they both were right to a certain extent. It’s when they became
dogma that that involved. – Just one question because it’s
interesting, because when you talk about intuition, to a lot of people, they say,
“Oh, it’s weird. I don’t believe that.” And it’s amazing because in science, a lot
of people use intuition to find things. – It’s all about intuition. – What is intuition for you? – Intuition is something we can’t define.
It’s because there are infinite possibilities to explain anything. Even
when I make a protein and I want it to get it to work. So, how much salt do I use?
How much magnesium do I use? How much buffer do I use? It’s impossible. If I
built a matrix, it will be infinite. I will spend a million years to figure out
how these proteins work. But somebody just looks into protein and gets it to work.
And another guy will spend days and days and nothing will happen, and he can’t
explain why. He just figures out. “We need this magnesium. We need potassium, we need
that, ” and it works. And that the same with ideas, any idea has millions of
possibilities. If you just sit down like an economist and build a matrix and try to
figure out a model, it will not work. You have to guess what it works. So, we don’t
understand how intuition works. – It’s amazing. – It has to do with the way the human
brain is wired, and you have the capacity to understand. – We don’t know where it’s coming from? – No, we don’t. And we don’t know which
neuronal connections create that capacity, but definitely intuition is the major
driving force in science, intuition and anarchy rather than order. – What did you say?
– Anarchy, chaos, and disorder. – Yeah. And you know, what’s interesting
is that… – Just one, what is the difference between
imagination and intuition? – I don’t know.
– Okay. – I don’t know. But I think intuition is
it’s a more practical form of imagination. It leads to practical results.
Some people have intuition what business will work and some people have intuition,
what scientific idea is going to be true, and I think they don’t need all the data
to get it. Then people spend years and years to build the data, but why did they
think that? It’s very, very hard. So thought imagination could be about a lot
of other things, not necessarily practical. – Okay. And as a scientist, do you have to
lay onto maybe follow your intuition? Because sometimes you have
the intuition and the dogma say the opposite for example. Do you have to learn to believe in your
intuition? – That’s where environment comes. You have
to be nurtured in such an environment. We can nurture our children and our students
to develop intuitive skills or nurture them to suppress both intuitive skills. – And how do you use it?
How can we do that? – I think it has to do with the people you
lived with both as parents and as teachers, and that’s why you can see
[inaudible 00:17:01] Nobel Prize winners. Nobel Prize winners usually train people
who get Nobel Prizes, and I think that has to do with building a free environment
where people are free to grow. The problem is that we do exactly the opposite because
we try to structure everything. And so we have three years to get a bachelor’s
degree and four years to get a master’s and you have to do certain courses to get
that, and that completely suppresses the human intuition. It’s probably good for
doing mandating things, because I think after intuition, you need the people who
actually work out the details and this is the different types of people. But to
create the inventors, the creators, it’s a completely different way, and I think it
has to do with environment, absolutely environment, the cultural identity. – So you think that studies
give intuition? – Yes. Many times they tell my students
not to read because if they read, they’ll come out with ideas that can bias them.
So what I do before I decide to do something, I decide to do it then I go and
read because I don’t want the ideas to… I don’t want me to be biased by other
things. And many times, people say, “Oh, it can’t work.” And they have papers that
say it can’t work, right? So if you see those papers first, you will
never think about it. – They did it because they didn’t know
that it was impossible? – Yeah, yes, exactly, exactly. So you need
to make it a balance of ignorance of knowledge. There is a balance and that
balance is also intuitive. How much knowledge is good and how much knowledge
is starting to inhibit in you? So some knowledge inspires you if it’s chaotic.
But if it’s very organized, it can limit you. – I would love to know because I
understand the principle of epigenetics, but I would love to know how it works for
you. You find a cell and how do you see that the environment has an
impact in this? – Right, so let’s go, so we stopped here
in determinism. So the next stage was, so when we saw that it changes in cancer,
then you can ask question why does it change in cancer, right? Why is it being
deterministic? Why some reason, my cancer cell decided to have a different
epigenetic mark? So we spent a lot of time to learn how to map it. So we can take the
DNA and map the epigenetic marks. We also can start testing different environments
even in a tissue dish, culture dish, add things and move things and see if they can
change it. So you can add and you can map before and after and see that you added
oxygen for example or you can add, change the acidic content, change kind of food
the cells are the getting. So you can do a lot of things to do that. – Okay. So you do a lot experience in
changing one thing and see the change inside the cell? – Yes, and inside the DNA, but the big
question was, the big question was okay, cancer people understand how it can
change, it’s very dramatic, so maybe in radiation and big signals can do it. But
that can happen as a normal process that we’re changing because the environment is
changing, so we are adapting our genome to the environment. And to this idea came to
me by a meeting that I had in a bar in Madrid. So all ideas come after alcohol,
if you drink alcohol, it’s the chance you will never come up with good ideas. – It is an advice? – Yeah. So I was in a meeting in Spain, a
meeting of the brain and I was working on the brain. I was working on cancer, but
the chairman of my department tried to convince me to work on the brain. And so,
there was another guy in Montreal, Michael Meaney, and I never met him here but I met
him in Madrid. And we go to the bar and we start drinking beer, and after many beers,
he tells me about what he’s doing. And he was working on maternal care in rats, and
little rats, pups are born the mother rat is taking care of
them like mother human. She licks and wounds them and she feeds them, and you
can actually see that some rats do more of this than others. So, he noticed that
there’s a big council of distribution, distribution of how much maternal care the
animals do. And then he asked the question, “What happen to the animals who
got a lot of maternal care and very little maternal care?” And he found that animals
that got a lot of maternal care do much better in certain things than
animals that did very little. – Is a male has a less impact? – Oh, there’s no male there,
it’s only female. Male just gives the sperm, because in
mammals like ourselves, most of our attachment is to the mother, to
breastfeeding that’s why we’re called mammals, mammary gland. So, he found that
they have really physical differences not just behavioral differences. For example,
these animals can… – Is it DNA? – Oh, that was the question. So, the first
question was, is it genetic? Are the mothers that licked more have a different
gene than the mothers that licked less, right? And so, in the beginning, they
thought it’s genetic like everybody else. So how do you test that? In animals, it’s
very easy. What you do is what we call cross-fostering. So you take an animal
that was born to a mother that is a little high and give it to the low and reverse
it. And then he found that it is actually not the biological mother but the mother
that takes care of you that makes the difference. So it can’t be genetic. – You have to be patient when
you are a scientist. – Oh, of course, it takes many, many
years. So then, after he told me in the beginning I really didn’t really care
because I was a heart scientist, maternal love is not something we cared about. But
then we started thinking about this at home, maybe it’s the DNA methylation,
maybe this epigenetic change. So maybe what happens when a mother takes
care of the pup, it changes the way genes are programmed. – It’s very interesting for me because I
see it how many questions you have to ask to find new things, and it’s the same for
people who means their lives that if you don’t ask question, you can find solution. – And step wide and have a lot of
patience. Our meeting in Madrid was 20 something years ago, 24 years ago. Okay.
And I think it took 10 years that we didn’t do anything, and then at some
point, there was a student coming from England and we decided that he will work
on it, between the two of us. And we started to ask whether the mother’s
love is changing the way DNAs chemically mark on the brain. And we found that it
does, and we also found… – Wow, Szyf, I love that. – …a chemical pathway that does that. So
now, it’s not voodoo anymore, it’s actually a chemical link that can link the
mother’s behavior and the way your DNAs mark in the brain. – So we can say then that love change DNA. – Of course.
– Wow. – At least those rats, so now the question
ask, how do you prove it in humans because we’re interesting in making love in rats
but in humans. – It’s not easy to find a baby and… – Give it to a rat and take care of it.
The problem of humans is you cannot prove
anything because we can’t… – We can’t do experiments. – We can’t do the same experiments. We
can’t cross-foster humans. It’s done. There are orphans that are taken care by
other mothers, it happens, but it’s never a controlled experiment. A controlled
experiments, they can say mother split her kids to two. Some could live with her and
some gives to another mother, but of course we can’t do that.
But what we can… – Are you okay when I stop you?
– Sure. – Okay, because I have a lot of questions.
So, the best for the evolution of science would be to test the DNA with the mother
and an orphan, right? And you can’t do that?
You do that right… – Exactly, it’s not ethical, right? – And so, the ethical limits the
grow of science? – Of course, but it’s good. – Yeah. How do you know what is ethical? – That’s a different question. Ethics is a
very hard thing to define, right? And if you have a religion then it’s defined by
the religion. If you don’t have a religion, it’s very
hard to agree on that thing. – Because I’m something can be okay for
you because you see the outcome. – Yes, you can say, “Oh, it’s very
important, and maybe it will damage these children but the world
will benefit from it.” – Yeah, and that’s easy. – But we don’t do that. I think all humans
except the Nazis and maybe the Japanese in World War II agreed that we don’t
experiments on humans unless it’s good for unless it’s good for them. – So you think it’s a good thing? – Yes.
– Okay. – But what we could do with humans is do
what we call associations, connect things. So, there’s another psychiatrist here in
McGill called Gustavo Turecki, and he was collecting brains from people who
committed suicide. And also, he was doing a very good documentation of their
behavior and psychological situation throughout their life. And so, we have
access now to brains of people who died but some were abused as children and some
had a very good life as children. – Okay. So we can do tests
when people die? – Yes, so we can compare their brains and
see if we see the same differences that we saw in the rats where we could do an
experiment, right? And we exactly found the same genes that were changed in the
rats that didn’t get a lot of care from the mother, the same genes were different
in humans who were abused as children. So, this started giving us the idea that the
environment can really change the way DNAs mark and not only the environment, not
just chemicals but the social environment. – Yeah, so inside.
– Right. External environment and the social
environment, and that has led us to… – What difference do you do between social
difference and external difference? – No, social difference, you see, there’s
chemicals, right, radiation, sun, these are physical things. They can’t change
your DNA, but the most amazing thing is that we talking to each other can change
our DNA, and that’s completely harder to understand. That was a revolutionary to
understand… – So we can say that our conversation
change together? – Yes, yes, it will change us in different
ways, but it will have an impact. It will change a chemistry of DNA that will be
memorized in the DNA and that can have many effects. – But it can be fearful for people.
– Yes. – You can say, “If I talk to him,
I would be…” – It’s true.
– Which is a limit. – Right. But I think the factor that
changes the DNA is good, right, because our DNA evolved in evolution millions of
years. It’s not good enough to deal with changing environments, so what the DNA
evolved also is a mechanism that can adjust itself to the environment. So your
DNA doesn’t know if you’ll be born in Stockholm or be born in Ecuador, and life
is totally different in Stockholm than in Ecuador. But as you were born, you see the
environment and sometimes the DNA is our environment to prepare you to Stockholm or
Ecuador. And the same happens with social environment. If you’re born in a slums
where people shoot each other for drugs and there’s very aggressive place, you
need a complete different personality than if you’re born in a grand salon in Paris
and you’re only going to be rich and allocate and kind people. And so, whatever
is useful in the slums becomes totally misfit in the upper class and vice versa.
Take an upper class kid, put him in the ghetto and he’d be shot in a day, because
he has no idea how to deal with it. So, when the child is born, the child is
sensing the environment and building his genome to fit with the environment. The
same has to do with food, if you’re born in a concentration camp, you want every
piece of food to turn into fat so you’d keep it for the next meal. You don’t know
when your next meal is coming. – So, a baby will survive easily than an
adult in the camp? – Right. So our system are much more
plastic when we are children than later in life. We call them critical periods. These
are periods where we learn and adjust our body, our DNA to the world. And later on,
we can still change the DNA but it’s more complicated because we already have built
the program. – So if we have a baby abused for 10
years, for example… – Oh, it will be very hard to change it,
but there are… – If he has love after with his next
family? – It doesn’t necessarily change. We need
to figure out ways to do that. Right. Because he is programmed to sense the
world as a really bad place. Right. So everything in his behavior is built to
deal with a bad place, which is good, that’s adaptation, because we find
ourselves in many different environment. So our DNA is ready to deal with each kind
of environment, but in childhood, that child learned the world is really a bad
place, and everybody you see might abuse, so you better be very aggressive, very… – [inaudible 00:31:36] was away and she
learn love for 10 years. – Of course, they think the world is a
good place, right? – If he comes in a bad place… – Oh, he will die. He will die in no time.
So I think what happened, why is there a problem? Because evolution was prepared in
a way that whatever you see in a childhood would usually stick.
And now, in a modern world, environment changes so fast. So the fact that you were
born from an abused family doesn’t mean you’re always going to be living in that
environment because you might go to a school, and the school kind of equalizes
everybody, and most of the kids were not abused. So now an abused child is with a
non-abused child. So his behavior today is totally useless now. So, because human
mind has created an environment even faster than epigenetics can fit with, what
happens is we get a misfit. I’ll give you an example. When you’re born to a very
poor family, the brain is sensing poverty, and the brain will prepare everything in
your body. The DNA will be programmed so that you, whenever you see food, you eat
everything, because you know that you might get food once every month. So better
eat everything and turn it into fat. So that’s how your whole system is prepared.
The brain, the body is prepared to store every piece of food to make it into fat
and to eat a lot. We call binging. But then, you live in the United States. Being
poor doesn’t mean you don’t have access to food, and that food is cheap. And you can
buy a McDonalds… – Fast food is cheap. – Yeah, or very rich food, high-calorie
food, and you can buy 1.99 McDonalds that has a lot of calories and you can buy them
every day. So now you have this phenotype of binging which would’ve saved your life
in a jungle in Africa or a desert in Sahara, in a city in United States, we
have tons of access to food, and you binge, and you become obese. When you
become obese, you develop now that is another thing. So, it’s not bad what you
have. It’s just in the wrong context. So the big challenge of
epigenetics is to outdo evolution, right. Because now, what happens the evolution of
the human mind is much faster than the evolution of our genome. And therefore, we
have created environments that change much faster than our genomes anticipate. So
now, the challenge is can we now change it back? It’s not easy,
just by putting in a good family we’re not changing back, it might
create the situation even worse, right? Because he doesn’t know how to deal with
family. He thinks everybody is an enemy. He’s going to be aggressive. He’s going to
be angry. So, that might not be the way to go. We have to not think about how to
reverse those epigenetic programs and fit them into the new world. So I have to
think a person who was prepared to binge because he anticipated famine to live in
the world where there’s a lot of food. It might not be simple. But the optimistic
message is that it should be doable, because the whole system is reversible. So
if the system is reversible, if we know how to reverse it, we should be able to do
it. And that I think where a lot of experimentation we’re going. What kind of
interventions? We’ll actually erase this and prepare a person to the new
environment, the real environment. – Is it kind of resets you in your world? – Reset your epigenomes. So in certain
cases, we’ll need to do that. In other cases, we’ll need to build an environment
that fits with this kind of phenotypes. For example, perhaps a kid was abused
needs a different kind of school than a kid who wasn’t, right, or need a different
kind of teaching. Perhaps the one-for-all kind of education system that we have that
is excellent for the upper middle class, doesn’t fit everybody and we have to fit
about ways. So we there are two ways to fix things. One is to change the
environment to fit your genome or to change your genome to fit the low
environment, and I think both are possible. – So your research today has focused to
fade away to change the genome? – Yes. So we are looking at that. I’m not
a social scientist so I don’t environments, but I think our research
also can guide that. For example, I think hopefully one day,
education people will start thinking about what we’re saying and say, “Okay, we need
to change the way we build our classes, to cater more to the different backgrounds
that people come into the class. – Do you think the future will see the DNA
and create different group of teaching in… – I hope we don’t need to examine each
person’s DNA, but we will examine each person’s behavior and try to
readjust the system. – That’s only one way to explain
but maybe tend. – Yes, and I think the other important
implication is that early life is really important, that we need to invest in early
life because that’s where we can make the biggest change, right?
– Is there a range? – We don’t know. It’s probably two and
half, three years are very critical for a lot of things the way the bearing develops
the way… – And love is a main factor? – I think love will prepare people to a
good life, but if life is going to be bad, probably these people might not be in a
good situation. So I think what’s important is to prepare the people to the
world that they’re going to live in. So, but if you have a lot of love and you’d
find yourself in a place where everybody shoots each other, it’s
probably won’t be useful. You could only be the first victim. – So it’s amazing because we have to help
people to fit exactly maybe just as a next step but not 10 step after. – Yeah, there are two ways to go. First,
if we as a society already know that countries like France and the United
States and the United Kingdom, and the rich Western countries, we know what kind
of environment the person has to fit, right? We know that having
a phenotype of being abused is not going to be useful in that
world. So we as a society need to eliminate that as much as possible, to
intervene as early as possible that these children are built, prepared, in an
environment that will make them fit for the Western environment, and that probably
might not be true for other places in the world. – And just one question, for example,
using about epigenetics, the people see the video, do you think it will be a
difference between me, for example, I am listening to you and people, the fact that
I’m next to you, the epigenetics works, so do you think that belonging will be
different the fact that I’m with you greater than watching the video? – Yes, and that’s very interesting,
because in spite of technology, we still have to travel. And my wife keeps asking
me, “Why do you travel so much?” And I say, I need to meet people. – So if they do the same
interview by Skype? – It will be different. I will be
different and you will be different, and I don’t understand why. But there’s
something about human interactions, the way we evolve that requires a physical
presence, and only the physical presence that intense social interaction. – This one is an example, if I say “I love
you” to my girlfriend… – Right, on Skype.
– On Skype and say “I love you…” – It’s not the same. It’s not the same. – I say “I love you” in physical way, it’s
not the same. – Most humans will tell you it’s not the
same, because we can mimic some things but we cannot mimic everything. It might have
to do with hormones that we need to smell and the physical presence that is not
exactly the same presence that we get on the screen.
Definitely a video meeting is better than just a sound meeting and better than just
a direct meeting. The worst is email, that’s the worst way of communication. I’m
totally useless with emails. I answer maybe 0.1% of them, and even when I answer
it’s useless. I can’t think. I don’t like the phone. I like to meet people in
person, drink with them and then you can come up with ideas. And this is something
we underappreciate. – It’s kind of limited of the social
network. You can have a lot of friends but it’s virtual friends. – It’s very different. And I can assess at
what point did I develop ideas because… – Just one question, I love this theory.
So I have to make my own company and we walk, I don’t know how to say that in
English, home office, so you can have a lot of difference, big difference between
work together in the same place than working at home… – Absolutely, absolutely. I think there
are certain things you can do in a home office, if there are simple technical
issues that have very limited number of variables, and you can ask simple
questions. But if you really need to be creative and think about new things, it’s
not working. – Do you know the principle of mastermind?
The fact that you know the book on Think and Grow Rich of Napoleon Hill?
– No. – Fifty years ago, he did a lot of
interviews of the biggest entrepreneurs and he’s saying that all the biggest
entrepreneurs have some peer groups and they meet together every month to talk
together. So do you think that the epigenetics has a
huge impact in this kinds of groups because they meet every month, for
example? – Yes, absolutely. That’s the best
environment. That’s the social environment. – So is that maybe what they share? – No, that’s just meeting, yeah. Sometimes
I would sit in a lecture and come up with great ideas that had nothing to do with
what’s spoken in the lecture. And so, they’re indirect links that are very hard
to sometimes understand. – If you want to become brilliant, you
have to meet a lot of time brilliant person. – Not necessarily, not necessarily.
Sometimes you get the ideas from meeting not brilliant people. It’s not easy. I
don’t think there’s a formula for this, because it’s probably so complicated that
we can’t reduce to simple concepts, but I think we understand that the way the brain
is working is highly influenced by others. But what kind of influence, that’s people
with intuition, I think figure out who they need to talk to get ideas. That time,
I’m not giving ideas. For example, surfing the web is another place where you go
nowhere and you get this idea. So I think this is another…the nice thing about the
web, it increases randomness, because when you surf you might not go to the exact
place that you wanted to go and that’s where you get the great ideas. So my
challenge in life is to increase randomness. So I want to have
random encounters. – In your life? – Yeah. And the more random encounters I
have, the bigger chance I have to develop new ideas. My ideas come from very
different places. – So if you do every day, meet the same
people… – Oh, it’s not going to be good, no. But
you need to have an inquisitive mind. You need to meet people and ask questions and
start talking to them. And I found, especially travel is important, because
people that travel are not usual people. There is a select group of people who are
inquisitive otherwise they won’t travel. And usually, also successful people, so
they’re people with big things and that’s why they can afford traveling. I can sit
on the plane and talk to somebody who makes yachts and that will get an idea or
somebody who’s a chef, or somebody who is a housewife, but you never know where your
ideas will come from. – So Dr. Mosche, you create and provoke
new things… – The greater your chance, yeah. I think
it’s a question of statistics and you increase your probability by just having
more encounters. And of course, you need to have the brain that can have this
talent to see something important when it sees it, but the more encounters you have,
the more important things will come. – And if you meet somebody with a bad
feeling, pessimistic guy, for example, can you be afraid, with epigenetics to… – Yeah, that definitely has an impact, and
it might be useful sometimes. We also need to be pessimistic sometimes because life
is not always good, and so you need a combination of the two. – Let’s consider, [foreign dialogue] – [Woman] Psychotherapist. – Psychotherapy? Yeah. – Yes. It can have a lot of people with
bad or huge problem and every day, people comes with these feelings.
Do you think he will change his own DNA… – With psychotherapy, yeah. It’s very
interesting psychotherapies also sometimes fall into serious mental problems.
Somehow, mental problems before they come have a lot developmental, serious mental
problems. So there’s no question, it’s a very harsh job. There’s no question, it
has an impact on you. – Interesting. And what is the next step
for you today? – So, I’m a biochemist. I want to
understand what are the enzymes that put on and remove mental groups, because this
will allow us to be able to manipulate them. So at the level of the chemistry, I
still want to understand the chemistry very well. At the bigger level, I want to
understand how to intervene in a useful way. So cancer is a very good place to
start because it takes our baby there, developing drugs. But the more interesting
thing for me is to understand how cancer is created to start with, and is due to
epigenetic processes give us a hint that we might have in wrong in thinking how
cancer starts. And for example, one of the most interesting questions in cancer is
how the social environment is involved in cancer. And this is something the people
dismissed. They thought, “Oh, cancer is just a mutation in the cell and that’s how
I put the causes in cancer, which might be true in some cases.” But I think cancer is
a disease of people, of the whole person, not just the tumor, and of the person in a
context, not on his own. None of us is on its own. We all are interactive.
And I think that we need to provide a mechanism that
explains that and probably the new system is one of the most interesting things
where these things happen. Because the immune system integrates environmental
information. It talks to the brain but also controls all these things like cancer
and other things. And so, I think that that’s the most interesting thing is to
understand how the immune system talks to the environment and how the immune system
controls human health and disease whether it’s cancer, whether its schizophrenia,
whether it’s Alzheimer’s. I think it’s all through these common ones. So we need to
understand more of that, and we need to see if we can start looking at cancer as a
systemic disease rather than as a disease of the genome. – But if you say systemic, it will become
more complex to… – It is complex, but I think there are
certain things we can do that can have a huge impact. So, for example, what is the
role of the psychosocial environment in getting cancer and in treating cancer? – Do you think it can explain why miracle
comes for example someone with cancer, it’s through love often? – Yeah, I think so. Well, I think so, I
think these anecdotal examples teach us about the most fundamental thing that
modern medicine focally missed is that a human is not a broken leg, and a human is
not just the human. It’s the entire interact of who that human interacts with,
that is important, and humans interact with animals. They interact with humans.
They interact with physical environment. All of these things is important, and we
missed it repeatedly. Even today, my medical students don’t get
it. They were developed to be addressed on columnist or chemotherapist or MD. As much
as they said, they’re going to talk to each other, they’re not, because there is
no fundamental understanding how these things interact, but once we have
mechanisms, we will be able… – The case of focusing that people have
focused, for example, here and here and here, but let people start to find a
global way to how they each thing is right. – Right, for example, I will give you an
example, my own example. My son had an injury in his knees in a sports day,
multi-ligament injury. So it’s a very complicated surgery. So we went to the
best surgeon and he did a beautiful job of fixing it, but after you do that, the kid
cannot walk for a long time since he fixed those ligaments. What is the indication of
not being able to walk? He can’t go to the bathroom. He can’t climb the stairs. You
can’t go to your bedroom. You can’t go to work. You destroy your social network, but
there are a few tricks you can learn how to walk under these conditions, but
invest zero effort. And so, but the surgeon, he cut it well and boom, it
worked, he’s happy. But the patient is not the ligaments. The patient is the entire
patient and his interactions, and I believe they have a huge
impact on the healing. – So you fix that? – But you don’t fix it really because to
fix this, the new system has to work well. The inflammatory system has to work well,
and that talks to the brain, and the brain talks to all the other things. So if you
were stressed because you can’t go to the bathroom or because you can’t do the
things you normally do, and you don’t know how to deal with the situation, your
healing will not work. And that’s why the doctors are frustrated why sometimes they
do everything perfect and then it doesn’t work. And so, a certain has
to be a psychology. – It can be the same constituent, the
people have no hairs and they are not prepared to interact with that. – Oh, anything, it could be anything. And
that integrative approach to humans has integrated in the world I think will
change medicine. – Did you see the movie Dr. Patch?
– No. – You can watch this movie, amazing movie
about a doctor and he changed totally the approach. It is a true story. I will write
you the movie later. – Good, good, good. – So what could be your suggestion? We
have two or three people to global way to see the disease? – Yes. Well, the doctor who leads the
treatment of such a disease has to look at all the aspects and try to think about how
we integrate them so that we improve our cancer so acute. – They’re trained to… – No, no, they’re very good in what
they’re doing. One doctor… – It became in someone with specialized on
car, they know mechanics but they don’t know how emotion works. So do you think we
have to train doctor? Or do you think the best is to have two people? – No, we need to train doctors differently
and we need to have two people. So, nobody could be an expert but we have to train
people to be able to talk, and if that doctor will gather experts, but that’s not
enough. He might be doing it but that’s not enough because it’s not real, because
he doesn’t know how to talk to that. And so, every medical procedure has to be done
by team of people. But the team has really to know each other’s language. So if the
psychologist doesn’t understand the surgery and the surgeon doesn’t understand
the psychology, it’s not going to work even if they work together, it’s not going
to work. So we need to train different kinds of
people. You don’t need to know everything but you have to be sensitive.
– So an interface? – Yes, and the interface is social. The
interface is creating people who know how to talk and know how to listen. – I saw on Wikipedia the definition
about…what is your definition of the epigenome? – I think it’s the way genes tick, the
way genes work. – Okay. I saw something about it is an
interface. – Yeah, between the environment and the
genome? Yes, we use that, but yeah, it’s an interface with a lot of things but it
makes the genome work. It makes the genome relevant. The genome would’ve been
totally relevant if it couldn’t sense the environment. – Do you say that to people that we have
to have two people, we have to train doctors to stick?
– Yeah. – And what [inaudible 00:55:02] do you
have? – I think slowly people are realizing
that. It’s just we don’t have the infrastructure to train people like this, but when I teach my
medical students like… – A lot of doctors want to help inside? – Yeah, and some are learning that. They
are many… – They can train themselves to speak? – There are many doctors who are
interested in epigenetics who will try to incorporate these concepts
and do the work. I think there’s going to be a change. – And today, is it more accepted? – Yes, much more. – And what is the process to help an idea
to be accepted? – I don’t know, because I’ve been working
with it for 40 years and I don’t know why in the last 10 years people get more
interested. I think sometimes it’s a failure of another idea. Why did the
Soviet Union break down? Because communism was broke apart… – Maybe it’s the same as the diseases,
well, we need some people to find it, some people to share it.
So it’s maybe the same people who have to do that.
– Yeah, maybe. – Okay, it’s right. And my last question
is what is your advice for people to use what you know about epigenetics for having
best results in life? – I think a lot is common sense. A lot of
the things that epigenetics teaches us is common sense actually makes a difference.
So if you ask any mother in a tribe in Africa that never saw science, is it
important to be a good mother? They’ll tell you, yes. If you ask a scientist,
probably they will tell you no, but probably the common sense was better than
the science. – It is easy for you to say
that in the beginning? – Why is common sense so important? Common
sense evolved. I believe in evolution. So, as generations pass, we get better at
things including social structures. We build better social structures. These
exist because we’re good for us, otherwise they would not exist because we would have
been selected at it. So, having respect for common sense is really important. And
sometimes, the rational concepts are more irrational than the irrational concepts.
And so, when I started this idea that maternal love can change DNAs sounded
really insane for the scientific point of view. But as I said, any grandmother and
any remote tribe in Amazonas would know that. So essentially, we are discovering
what people discovered by common sense, we’re just giving it mechanisms which is
fine because as you said you don’t believe in something where you don’t have a
mechanism. But in the end, common sense is a very good guidance because common sense
is based on I think human evolution, and we have to learn the common sense and we
have to apply it. But once we appreciate that we can
actually change a lot of things by our common sense, then we
are driven to do that. – Great, and everybody can do that. You
don’t need to be a scientist to learn from that. – I think what scientists now teach you is
that, what scientists teach you before was wrong and actually what they knew
intuitively is probably more true. For example, issues like is family important?
There’s no human tribe anywhere in the world that doesn’t have family. So you can
ask the question, “Wait a minute, it can be that stupid.” So what’s the common
sense structure for family? What are its strength? Why was it
selected social evolution? – Do you have mentor or maybe died mentor
like Einstein who helps you to chain of authorization for you to bring this way,
to go in a new way as Apple say to think different. – Yeah, to think different, I don’t know,
I don’t think so. I think it’s just the way I was raised and my temperaments. – Because when you see people like Edison,
Einstein, amazing how they see the world and create new things. At the beginning,
they were not accepted as a scientist. – Of course, of course, any new idea is
not accepted. But the problem is, that’s okay. We should be critical about new
ideas. That’s fine, that’s why there is family. If we accepted everything we’ll be
just idiots. But I think that the problem is we demonize those who come up with new
ideas. We try to destroy them. So therefore, we select against new ideas
even against new good ideas. That’s the problem. – It’s fear. It’s the idea we can
either… – Yeah, yeah.
– Okay. Right.

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