– [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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