Elizabeth Murchison gives an interesting look into the world of the Tasmanian devil and a new strain of contagious cancer that is threatening its existence in this enlightening, educational science keynote. She reveals graphic and shocking images of the animals that generally show the first symptoms of having the disease in the form of facial tumors. What is so different about this strain of cancer from other forms of contagious cancers that can develop as a result of a virus, is that in this one, the cancer cells themselves are transmissible.
By studying the species' DNA, Murchison is able to show the audience research that suggests this particular strain of cancer has evolved in a way that it can survive outside the body and be passed on to another, meaning the mutation doesn’t die with its host as is normally the case. Murchison goes on to further explain that this is the first strain of cancer that has been documented as having the possibility to wipe out a whole animal population. In this insightful keynote, Elizabeth Murchison brings awareness to an issue that could be the cause of the Tasmanian devil's extinction and teaches her audience about cancer in general.