“Do proteins hold the key to the past?”

It’s a question one New Yorker writer explored in a deep-dive into the exploding field of “proteomics.”

As scientists begin to reexamine the pages of historic texts, they’re learning remarkable things about the people who once handled these ancient documents.

One such study happened right here in Washington — at the Folger Shakespeare Library — where a swab from a 400 year-old Bible found DNA belonging to at least one Northern European, who had acne.

Could future studies paint a more complete portrait of the Bard himself?

Produced by Julie Depenbrock


  • Michael Witmore Director, Folger Shakespeare Library
  • Julie Segre Geneticist and Senior Investigator, National Human Genome Research Institute at National Institutes of Health
  • Sam Knight Staff Writer, New Yorker

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