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Human embryos are remarkably prone to mitotic errors during their first days of development: up to 70% carry genetically abnormal cells by the third day. In the first part of this seminar, I will cover the journey we all made from a chaotic genetic content to a (mostly) normal genome, summarizing what we know on how we manage this feat. In the second half, I will move on to human embryonic stem cells, the in vitro counterpart of the inner cell mass – the part of the embryo that becomes the fetus. Embryonic stem cells are also prone to genomic instability, which my lab studies from multiple angles. In this talk, I will present some of the work we do, and show you the opportunities these abnormalities provide to discover gene function in cell fate specification, during a window of human development otherwise inaccessible.