Taking us to the cutting edge of the new frontier of medicine, a visionary biotechnologist and a pathbreaking researcher show how we can optimize our health in ways that were previously unimaginable.
We are on the cusp of a major transformation in healthcare—yet few people know it. At top hospitals and a few innovative health-tech startups, scientists are working closely with patients to dramatically extend their “healthspan”—the number of healthy years before disease sets in. In The Age of Scientific Wellness, two visionary leaders of this revolution in health take us on a thrilling journey to this new frontier of medicine.
Today, most doctors wait for clinical symptoms to appear before they act, and the ten most commonly prescribed medications confer little or no benefit to most people taking them. Leroy Hood and Nathan Price argue that we must move beyond this reactive, hit-or-miss approach to usher in real precision health—a form of highly personalized care they call “scientific wellness.” Using information gleaned from our blood and genes and tapping into the data revolution made possible by AI, doctors can catch the onset of disease years before symptoms arise, revolutionizing prevention. Current applications have shown startling results: diabetes reversed, cancers eliminated, Alzheimer’s avoided, autoimmune conditions kept at bay.
This is not a future fantasy: it is already happening, but only for a few patients and at high cost. It’s time to make this gold standard of care more widely available. Inspiring in its possibilities, radical in its conclusions, The Age of Scientific Wellness shares actionable insights to help you chart a course to a longer, healthier, and more fulfilling life.
With Biotechnology and Society, Hallam Stevens offers an up-to-date primer to help us understand the interactions of biotechnology and society and the debates, controversies, fears, and hopes that have shaped how we think about bodies, organisms, and life in the twenty-first century. Stevens addresses such topics as genetically modified foods, cloning, and stem cells; genetic testing and the potential for discrimination; fears of (and, in some cases, hopes for) designer babies; personal genomics; biosecurity; and biotech art. Taken as a whole, the book presents a clear, authoritative picture of the relationship between biotechnology and society today, and how our conceptions (and misconceptions) of it could shape future developments. It is an essential volume for students and scholars working with biotechnology, while still being accessible to the general reader interested in the truth behind breathless media accounts about biotech’s promise and perils.
Blood is messy, dangerous, and charged with meaning. By following it as it circulates through people and institutions, Jenny Bangham explores the intimate connections between the early infrastructures of blood transfusion and the development of human genetics. Focusing on mid-twentieth-century Britain, Blood Relations connects histories of eugenics to the local politics of giving blood, showing how the exchange of blood carved out networks that made human populations into objects of medical surveillance and scientific research. Bangham reveals how biology was transformed by two world wars, how scientists have worked to define racial categories, and how the practices and rhetoric of public health made genetics into a human science. Today, genetics is a powerful authority on human health and identity, and Blood Relations helps us understand how this authority was achieved.
“Sandel explores a paramount question of our era: how to extend the power and promise of biomedical science to overcome debility without compromising our humanity. His arguments are acute and penetrating, melding sound logic with compassion.” —Jerome Groopman, author of How Doctors Think
Breakthroughs in genetics present us with a promise and a predicament. The promise is that we will soon be able to treat and prevent a host of debilitating diseases. The predicament is that our newfound genetic knowledge may enable us to manipulate our nature—to enhance our genetic traits and those of our children. Although most people find at least some forms of genetic engineering disquieting, it is not easy to articulate why. What is wrong with re-engineering our nature?
The Case against Perfection explores these and other moral quandaries connected with the quest to perfect ourselves and our children. Michael Sandel argues that the pursuit of perfection is flawed for reasons that go beyond safety and fairness. The drive to enhance human nature through genetic technologies is objectionable because it represents a bid for mastery and dominion that fails to appreciate the gifted character of human powers and achievements. Carrying us beyond familiar terms of political discourse, this book contends that the genetic revolution will change the way philosophers discuss ethics and will force spiritual questions back onto the political agenda.
In order to grapple with the ethics of enhancement, we need to confront questions largely lost from view in the modern world. Since these questions verge on theology, modern philosophers and political theorists tend to shrink from them. But our new powers of biotechnology make these questions unavoidable. Addressing them is the task of this book, by one of America’s preeminent moral and political thinkers.
The Century of the Gene
Evelyn Fox Keller Harvard University Press, 2000 Library of Congress QH428.K448 2000 | Dewey Decimal 576.5
In a book that promises to change the way we think and talk about genes and genetic determinism, Evelyn Fox Keller, one of our most gifted historians and philosophers of science, provides a powerful, profound analysis of the achievements of genetics and molecular biology in the twentieth century, the century of the gene. Not just a chronicle of biology’s progress from gene to genome in one hundred years, The Century of the Gene also calls our attention to the surprising ways these advances challenge the familiar picture of the gene most of us still entertain.Keller shows us that the very successes that have stirred our imagination have also radically undermined the primacy of the gene—word and object—as the core explanatory concept of heredity and development. She argues that we need a new vocabulary that includes concepts such as robustness, fidelity, and evolvability. But more than a new vocabulary, a new awareness is absolutely crucial: that understanding the components of a system (be they individual genes, proteins, or even molecules) may tell us little about the interactions among these components.With the Human Genome Project nearing its first and most publicized goal, biologists are coming to realize that they have reached not the end of biology but the beginning of a new era. Indeed, Keller predicts that in the new century we will witness another Cambrian era, this time in new forms of biological thought rather than in new forms of biological life.
What might the cinema tell us about how and why the prospect of cloning disturbs our most profound ideas about gender, sexuality, difference, and the body? In The Cinematic Life of the Gene, the pioneering feminist film theorist Jackie Stacey argues that as a cultural technology of imitation, cinema is uniquely situated to help us theorize “the genetic imaginary,” the constellation of fantasies that genetic engineering provokes. Since the mid-1990s there has been remarkable innovation in genetic engineering and a proliferation of films structured by anxieties about the changing meanings of biological and cultural reproduction. Bringing analyses of several of these films into dialogue with contemporary cultural theory, Stacey demonstrates how the cinema animates the tropes and enacts the fears at the heart of our genetic imaginary. She engages with film theory; queer theories of desire, embodiment, and kinship; psychoanalytic theories of subject formation; and debates about the reproducibility of the image and the shift from analog to digital technologies.
Stacey examines the body-horror movies Alien: Resurrection and Species in light of Jean Baudrillard’s apocalyptic proclamations about cloning and “the hell of the same,” and she considers the art-house thrillers Gattaca and Code 46 in relation to ideas about imitation, including feminist theories of masquerade, postcolonial conceptualizations of mimicry, and queer notions of impersonation. Turning to Teknolust and Genetic Admiration, independent films by feminist directors, she extends Walter Benjamin’s theory of aura to draw an analogy between the replication of biological information and the reproducibility of the art object. Stacey suggests new ways to think about those who are not what they appear to be, the problem of determining identity in a world of artificiality, and the loss of singularity amid unchecked replication.
A Cultural History of Heredity
Staffan Müller-Wille and Hans-Jörg Rheinberger University of Chicago Press, 2012 Library of Congress QH438.5.M8513 2012 | Dewey Decimal 576.5
It was only around 1800 that heredity began to enter debates among physicians, breeders, and naturalists. Soon thereafter it evolved into one of the most fundamental concepts of biology. Here Staffan Müller-Wille and Hans-Jörg Rheinberger offer a succinct cultural history of the scientific concept of heredity. They outline the dramatic changes the idea has undergone since the early modern period and describe the political and technological developments that brought about these changes.
Müller-Wille and Rheinberger begin with an account of premodern theories of generation, showing that these were concerned with the procreation of individuals rather than with hereditary transmission. The authors reveal that when hereditarian thinking first emerged, it did so in a variety of cultural domains, such as politics and law, medicine, natural history, breeding, and anthropology. Müller-Wille and Rheinberger then track theories of heredity from the late nineteenth century—when leading biologists considered it in light of growing societal concerns with race and eugenics—through the rise of classical and molecular genetics in the twentieth century, to today, as researchers apply sophisticated information technologies to understand heredity. What readers come to see from this exquisite history is why it took such a long time for heredity to become a prominent concept in the life sciences and why it gained such overwhelming importance in those sciences and the broader culture over the last two centuries.
Approximately eight percent of our DNA contains retroviral sequences that are millions of years old. Through engaging stories of scientific discovery, Anna Marie Skalka explains our evolving knowledge of these ancient denizens of the biosphere and how this understanding has significantly advanced research in genetic engineering, gene delivery systems, and precision medicine.
Discovering Retroviruses begins with the pioneer scientists who first encountered these RNA-containing viruses and solved the mystery of their reproduction. Like other viruses, retroviruses invade the cells of a host organism to reproduce. What makes them “retro” is a unique process of genetic information transfer. Instead of transcribing DNA into RNA as all living cells do, they transcribe their RNA into DNA. This viral DNA is then spliced into the host’s genome, where the cell’s synthetic machinery is co-opted to make new virus particles. The 100,000 pieces of retroviral DNA in the human genome are remnants from multiple invasions of our ancestors’ “germline” cells—the cells that allow a host organism to reproduce. Most of these bits of retroviral DNA are degenerated fossils, but some have been exploited during evolution, with profound effects on our physiology.
Some present-day circulating retroviruses cause cancers in humans and other animals. Others, like HIV, cause severe immunodeficiencies. But retroviruses also hold clues to innovative approaches that can prevent and treat these diseases. In laboratories around the world, retroviruses continue to shed light on future possibilities that are anything but “retro.”
A root-and-branch rethinking of how history has shaped the science of genetics.
In 1900, almost no one had heard of Gregor Mendel. Ten years later, he was famous as the father of a new science of heredity—genetics. Even today, Mendelian ideas serve as a standard point of entry for learning about genes. The message students receive is plain: the twenty-first century owes an enlightened understanding of how biological inheritance really works to the persistence of an intellectual inheritance that traces back to Mendel’s garden.
Disputed Inheritance turns that message on its head. As Gregory Radick shows, Mendelian ideas became foundational not because they match reality—little in nature behaves like Mendel’s peas—but because, in England in the early years of the twentieth century, a ferocious debate ended as it did. On one side was the Cambridge biologist William Bateson, who, in Mendel’s name, wanted biology and society reorganized around the recognition that heredity is destiny. On the other side was the Oxford biologist W. F. R. Weldon, who, admiring Mendel's discoveries in a limited way, thought Bateson's "Mendelism" represented a backward step, since it pushed growing knowledge of the modifying role of environments, internal and external, to the margins. Weldon's untimely death in 1906, before he could finish a book setting out his alternative vision, is, Radick suggests, what sealed the Mendelian victory.
Bringing together extensive archival research with searching analyses of the nature of science and history, Disputed Inheritance challenges the way we think about genetics and its possibilities, past, present, and future.
While the creation of Dolly the sheep, the world's most famous clone, triggered an enormous amount of discussion about human cloning, in Dolly Mixtures the anthropologist Sarah Franklin looks beyond that much-rehearsed controversy to some of the other reasons why the iconic animal's birth and death were significant. Building on the work of historians and anthropologists, Franklin reveals Dolly as the embodiment of agricultural, scientific, social, and commercial histories which are, in turn, bound up with national and imperial aspirations. Dolly was the offspring of a long tradition of animal domestication, as well as the more recent histories of capital accumulation through selective breeding, and enhanced national competitiveness through the control of biocapital. Franklin traces Dolly's connections to Britain's centuries-old sheep and wool markets (which were vital to the nation's industrial revolution) and to Britain's export of animals to its colonies—particularly Australia—to expand markets and produce wealth. Moving forward in time, she explains the celebrity sheep's links to the embryonic cell lines and global bioscientific innovation of the late twentieth century and early twenty-first.
Franklin combines wide-ranging sources—from historical accounts of sheep-breeding, to scientific representations of cloning by nuclear transfer, to popular media reports of Dolly's creation and birth—as she draws on gender and kinship theory as well as postcolonial and science studies. She argues that there is an urgent need for more nuanced responses to the complex intersections between the social and the biological, intersections which are literally reshaping reproduction and genealogy. In Dolly Mixtures, Franklin uses the renowned sheep as an opportunity to begin developing a critical language to identify and evaluate the reproductive possibilities that post-Dolly biology now faces, and to look back at some of the important historical formations that enabled and prefigured Dollys creation.
“Will the future confront us with human GMOs? Greely provocatively declares yes, and, while clearly explaining the science, spells out the ethical, political, and practical ramifications.”—Paul Berg, Nobel Laureate and recipient of the National Medal of Science
Within twenty, maybe forty, years most people in developed countries will stop having sex for the purpose of reproduction. Instead, prospective parents will be told as much as they wish to know about the genetic makeup of dozens of embryos, and they will pick one or two for implantation, gestation, and birth. And it will be safe, lawful, and free. In this work of prophetic scholarship, Henry T. Greely explains the revolutionary biological technologies that make this future a seeming inevitability and sets out the deep ethical and legal challenges humanity faces as a result.
“Readers looking for a more in-depth analysis of human genome modifications and reproductive technologies and their legal and ethical implications should strongly consider picking up Greely’s The End of Sex and the Future of Human Reproduction… [It has] the potential to empower readers to make informed decisions about the implementation of advancements in genetics technologies.” —Dov Greenbaum, Science
“[Greely] provides an extraordinarily sophisticated analysis of the practical, political, legal, and ethical implications of the new world of human reproduction. His book is a model of highly informed, rigorous, thought-provoking speculation about an immensely important topic.” —Glenn C. Altschuler, Psychology Today
Devised in the 1940s by the biologist C. H. Waddington, the epigenetic landscape is a metaphor for how gene regulation modulates cellular development. As a scientific model, it fell out of use in the late 1960s but returned at the beginning of the twenty-first century with the advent of big-data genomic research because of its utility among scientists across the life sciences to think more creatively about and to discuss genetics. In Epigenetic Landscapes Susan Merrill Squier follows the model’s cultural trail, from its first visualization by the artist John Piper to its use beyond science. Squier examines three cases in which the metaphor has been imaginatively deployed to illustrate complex systems that link scientific and cultural practices: graphic medicine, landscape architecture, and bioArt. Challenging reductive understandings of epigenetics, Squier boldly reclaims the broader significance of the epigenetic landscape as a figure at the nexus of art, design, and science.
"Wright's views about population genetics and evolution are so fundamental and so comprehensive that every serious student must examine these books firsthand. . . . Publication of this treatise is a major event in evolutionary biology."-Daniel L. Hartl, BioScience
"Wright's views about population genetics and evolution are so fundamental and so comprehensive that every serious student must examine these books firsthand. . . . Publication of this treatise is a major event in evolutionary biology."-Daniel L. Hartl, BioScience
"Wright's views about population genetics and evolution are so fundamental and so comprehensive that every serious student must examine these books firsthand. . . . Publication of this treatise is a major event in evolutionary biology."-Daniel L. Hartl, BioScience
Spanning evolutionary science from its inception to its latest findings, from discoveries and data to philosophy and history, this book is the most complete, authoritative, and inviting one-volume introduction to evolutionary biology available. Clear, informative, and comprehensive in scope, Evolution opens with a series of major essays dealing with the history and philosophy of evolutionary biology, with major empirical and theoretical questions in the science, from speciation to adaptation, from paleontology to evolutionary development (evo devo), and concluding with essays on the social and political significance of evolutionary biology today.
A second encyclopedic section travels the spectrum of topics in evolution with concise, informative, and accessible entries on individuals from Aristotle and Linneaus to Louis Leakey and Jean Lamarck; from T. H. Huxley and E. O. Wilson to Joseph Felsenstein and Motoo Kimura; and on subjects from altruism and amphibians to evolutionary psychology and Piltdown Man to the Scopes trial and social Darwinism. Readers will find the latest word on the history and philosophy of evolution, the nuances of the science itself, and the intricate interplay among evolutionary study, religion, philosophy, and society.
Appearing at the beginning of the Darwin Year of 2009—the 200th anniversary of the birth of Charles Darwin and the 150th anniversary of the publication of the Origin of Species—this volume is a fitting tribute to the science Darwin set in motion.
The question of why an individual would actively kill itself has long been an evolutionary mystery. Pierre M. Durand’s ambitious book answers this question through close inspection of life and death in the earliest cellular life. As Durand shows us, cell death is a fascinating lens through which to examine the interconnectedness, in evolutionary terms, of life and death. It is a truism to note that one does not exist without the other, but just how does this play out in evolutionary history?
These two processes have been studied from philosophical, theoretical, experimental, and genomic angles, but no one has yet integrated the information from these various disciplines. In this work, Durand synthesizes cellular studies of life and death looking at the origin of life and the evolutionary significance of programmed cellular death. The exciting and unexpected outcome of Durand’s analysis is the realization that life and death exhibit features of coevolution. The evolution of more complex cellular life depended on the coadaptation between traits that promote life and those that promote death. In an ironic twist, it becomes clear that, in many circumstances, programmed cell death is essential for sustaining life.
In recent decades, Susan Oyama and her colleagues in the burgeoning field of developmental systems theory have rejected the determinism inherent in the nature/nurture debate, arguing that behavior cannot be reduced to distinct biological or environmental causes. In Evolution’s Eye Oyama elaborates on her pioneering work on developmental systems by spelling out that work’s implications for the fields of evolutionary theory, developmental and social psychology, feminism, and epistemology. Her approach profoundly alters our understanding of the biological processes of development and evolution and the interrelationships between them. While acknowledging that, in an uncertain world, it is easy to “blame it on the genes,” Oyama claims that the renewed trend toward genetic determinism colors the way we think about everything from human evolution to sexual orientation and personal responsibility. She presents instead a view that focuses on how a wide variety of developmental factors interact in the multileveled developmental systems that give rise to organisms. Shifting attention away from genes and the environment as causes for behavior, she convincingly shows the benefits that come from thinking about life processes in terms of developmental systems that produce, sustain, and change living beings over both developmental and evolutionary time. Providing a genuine alternative to genetic and environmental determinism, as well as to unsuccessful compromises with which others have tried to replace them, Evolution’s Eye will fascinate students and scholars who work in the fields of evolution, psychology, human biology, and philosophy of science. Feminists and others who seek a more complex view of human nature will find her work especially congenial.
A single species of fly, Drosophila melanogaster, has been the subject of scientific research for more than one hundred years. Why does this tiny insect merit such intense scrutiny?
Drosophila’s importance as a research organism began with its short life cycle, ability to reproduce in large numbers, and easy-to-see mutant phenotypes. Over time, laboratory investigation revealed surprising similarities between flies and other animals at the level of genes, gene networks, cell interactions, physiology, immunity, and behavior. Like humans, flies learn and remember, fight microbial infection, and slow down as they age. Scientists use Drosophila to investigate complex biological activities in a simple but intact living system. Fly research provides answers to some of the most challenging questions in biology and biomedicine, including how cells transmit signals and form ordered structures, how we can interpret the wealth of human genome data now available, and how we can develop effective treatments for cancer, diabetes, and neurodegenerative diseases.
Written by a leader in the Drosophila research community, First in Fly celebrates key insights uncovered by investigators using this model organism. Stephanie Elizabeth Mohr draws on these “first in fly” findings to introduce fundamental biological concepts gained over the last century and explore how research in the common fruit fly has expanded our understanding of human health and disease.
Vegan, low fat, low carb, slow carb: Every diet seems to promise a one-size-fits-all solution to health. But they ignore the diversity of human genes and how they interact with what we eat.
In Food, Genes, and Culture, renowned ethnobotanist Gary Nabhan shows why the perfect diet for one person could be disastrous for another. If your ancestors were herders in Northern Europe, milk might well provide you with important nutrients, whereas if you’re Native American, you have a higher likelihood of lactose intolerance. If your roots lie in the Greek islands, the acclaimed Mediterranean diet might save your heart; if not, all that olive oil could just give you stomach cramps.
Nabhan traces food traditions around the world, from Bali to Mexico, uncovering the links between ancestry and individual responses to food. The implications go well beyond personal taste. Today’s widespread mismatch between diet and genes is leading to serious health conditions, including a dramatic growth over the last 50 years in auto-immune and inflammatory diseases.
Readers will not only learn why diabetes is running rampant among indigenous peoples and heart disease has risen among those of northern European descent, but may find the path to their own perfect diet.
In 1993, an American biotechnology company and a French genetics lab developed a collaborative research plan to search for diabetes genes. But just as the project was to begin, the French government called it to a halt, barring the laboratory from sharing something never previously thought of as a commodity unto itself: French DNA.
Few concepts played a more important role in twentieth-century life sciences than that of the gene. Yet at this moment, the field of genetics is undergoing radical conceptual transformation, and some scientists are questioning the very usefulness of the concept of the gene, arguing instead for more systemic perspectives.
The time could not be better, therefore, for Hans-Jörg Rheinberger and Staffan Müller-Wille's magisterial history of the concept of the gene. Though the gene has long been the central organizing theme of biology, both conceptually and as an object of study, Rheinberger and Müller-Wille conclude that we have never even had a universally accepted, stable definition of it. Rather, the concept has been in continual flux—a state that, they contend, is typical of historically important and productive scientific concepts. It is that very openness to change and manipulation, the authors argue, that made it so useful: its very mutability enabled it to be useful while the technologies and approaches used to study and theorize about it changed dramatically.
"Gene sharing" means that the different functions of a protein may share the same gene--that is, a protein produced by a gene evolved to fulfill a specialized function for one biological role may also perform alternate functions for other biological roles.
In the 1980s and early 1990s, Joram Piatigorsky and colleagues coined the term "gene sharing" to describe the use of multifunctional proteins as crystallins in the eye lens. In Gene Sharing and Evolution Piatigorsky explores the generality and implications of gene sharing throughout evolution and argues that most if not all proteins perform a variety of functions in the same and in different species, and that this is a fundamental necessity for evolution.
How is a gene identified, by its structure or its function? Do the boundaries of a gene include its regulatory elements? What is the influence of gene expression on natural selection of protein functions, and how is variation in gene expression selected in evolution? These are neither new nor resolved questions. Piatigorsky shows us that the extensiveness of gene sharing and protein multifunctionality offers a way of responding to these questions that sheds light on the complex interrelationships among genes, proteins, and evolution.
In evolution, most genes survive and spread within populations because they increase the ability of their hosts (or their close relatives) to survive and reproduce. But some genes spread in spite of being harmful to the host organism—by distorting their own transmission to the next generation, or by changing how the host behaves toward relatives. As a consequence, different genes in a single organism can have diametrically opposed interests and adaptations.Covering all species from yeast to humans, Genes in Conflict is the first book to tell the story of selfish genetic elements, those continually appearing stretches of DNA that act narrowly to advance their own replication at the expense of the larger organism. As Austin Burt and Robert Trivers show, these selfish genes are a universal feature of life with pervasive effects, including numerous counter-adaptations. Their spread has created a whole world of socio-genetic interactions within individuals, usually completely hidden from sight.Genes in Conflict introduces the subject of selfish genetic elements in all its aspects, from molecular and genetic to behavioral and evolutionary. Burt and Trivers give us access for the first time to a crucial area of research—now developing at an explosive rate—that is cohering as a unitary whole, with its own logic and interconnected questions, a subject certain to be of enduring importance to our understanding of genetics and evolution.
In light of scientific advances such as genomics, predictive diagnostics, genetically engineered agriculture, nuclear transfer cloning, and the manipulation of stem cells, the idea that genes carry predetermined molecular programs or blueprints is pervasive. Yet new scientific discoveries—such as rna transcripts of single genes that can lead to the production of different compounds from the same pieces of dna—challenge the concept of the gene alone as the dominant factor in biological development. Increasingly aware of the tension between certain empirical results and interpretations of those results based on the orthodox view of genetic determinism, a growing number of scientists urge a rethinking of what a gene is and how it works. In this collection, a group of internationally renowned scientists present some prominent alternative approaches to understanding the role of dna in the construction and function of biological organisms.
Contributors discuss alternatives to the programmatic view of dna, including the developmental systems approach, methodical culturalism, the molecular process concept of the gene, the hermeneutic theory of description, and process structuralist biology. None of the approaches cast doubt on the notion that dna is tremendously important to biological life on earth; rather, contributors examine different ideas of how dna should be represented, evaluated, and explained. Just as ideas about genetic codes have reached far beyond the realm of science, the reconceptualizations of genetic theory in this volume have broad implications for ethics, philosophy, and the social sciences.
Contributors. Thomas Bürglin, Brian C. Goodwin, James Griesemer, Paul Griffiths, Jesper Hoffmeyer, Evelyn Fox Keller, Gerd B. Müller, Eva M. Neumann-Held, Stuart A. Newman, Susan Oyama, Christoph Rehmann-Sutter, Sahotra Sarkar, Jackie Leach Scully, Gerry Webster, Ulrich Wolf
Can genes determine which fifty-year-old will succumb to Alzheimer’s, which citizen will turn out on voting day, and which child will be marked for a life of crime? Yes, according to the Internet, a few scientific studies, and some in the biotechnology industry who should know better. Sheldon Krimsky and Jeremy Gruber gather a team of genetic experts to argue that treating genes as the holy grail of our physical being is a patently unscientific endeavor. Genetic Explanations urges us to replace our faith in genetic determinism with scientific knowledge about how DNA actually contributes to human development.
The concept of the gene has been steadily revised since Watson and Crick discovered the structure of the DNA molecule in 1953. No longer viewed by scientists as the cell’s fixed set of master molecules, genes and DNA are seen as a dynamic script that is ad-libbed at each stage of development. Rather than an autonomous predictor of disease, the DNA we inherit interacts continuously with the environment and functions differently as we age. What our parents hand down to us is just the beginning. Emphasizing relatively new understandings of genetic plasticity and epigenetic inheritance, the authors put into a broad developmental context the role genes are known to play in disease, behavior, evolution, and cognition.
Rather than dismissing genetic reductionism out of hand, Krimsky and Gruber ask why it persists despite opposing scientific evidence, how it influences attitudes about human behavior, and how it figures in the politics of research funding.
They mastermind our lives, shaping our features, our health, and our behavior, even in the sacrosanct realms of love and sex, religion, aging, and death. Yet we are the ones who house, perpetuate, and give the promise of immortality to these biological agents, our genetic gods. The link between genes and gods is hardly arbitrary, as the distinguished evolutionary geneticist John Avise reveals in this compelling book. In clear, straightforward terms, Avise reviews recent discoveries in molecular biology, evolutionary genetics, and human genetic engineering, and discusses the relevance of these findings to issues of ultimate concern traditionally reserved for mythology, theology, and religious faith.
The book explains how the genetic gods figure in our development--not just our metabolism and physiology, but even our emotional disposition, personality, ethical leanings, and, indeed, religiosity. Yet genes are physical rather than metaphysical entities. Having arisen via an amoral evolutionary process--natural selection--genes have no consciousness, no sentient code of conduct, no reflective concern about the consequences of their actions. It is Avise's contention that current genetic knowledge can inform our attempts to answer typically religious questions--about origins, fate, and meaning. The Genetic Gods challenges us to make the necessary connection between what we know, what we believe, and what we embody.
The classic study of dog behavior gathered into one volume. Based on twenty years of research at the Jackson Laboratory, this is the single most important and comprehensive reference work on the behavior of dogs ever complied.
"Genetics and the Social Behavior of the Dog is one of the most important texts on canine behavior published to date. Anyone interested in breeding, training, or canine behavior must own this book."—Wayne Hunthausen, D.V.M., Director of Animal Behavior Consultations
"This pioneering research on dog behavioral genetics is a timeless classic for all serious students of ethology and canine behavior."—Dr. Michael Fox, Senior Advisor to the President, The Humane Society of the United States
"A major authoritative work. . . . Immensely rewarding reading for anyone concerned with dog-breeding."—Times Literary Supplement
"The last comprehensive study [of dog behavior] was concluded more than thirty years ago, when John Paul Scott and John L. Fuller published their seminal work Genetics and the Social Behavior of the Dog."—Mark Derr, The Atlantic Monthly
"Genetics and the Social Behavior of the Dog is essential reading for anyone involved in the breeding of dogs. No breeder can afford to ignore the principles of proper socialization first discovered and articulated in this landmark study."-The Monks of New Skete, authors of How to Be Your Dog's Best Friend and the video series Raising Your Dog with the Monks of New Skete.
Pulitzer Prize-winning author Louis Menand begins this wide-ranging volume with an essay that extols diversity and warns of the dangers of modifying the human genome. Nora Groce reviews the ways that societies have defined disability and creates an interpretive framework for discussing the relationship between culture and disability.
In essays devoted to historical perspective, Brian H. Greenwald comments upon the real “toll” taken by A. G. Bell’s insistence upon oralism, while Joseph J. Murray weighs the nineteenth-century debate over whether deaf-deaf marriages should be encouraged. John S. Schuchman’s chilling account of deafness and eugenics in the Nazi era adds wrenching reinforcement to the impetus to include disabled people in genetics debates.
Mark Willis offers an intensely personal reflection on the complexities of genetic alteration, addressing both his heart condition and his blindness in surprisingly different ways. Anna Middleton extends Willis’s concepts in her discussion of couples currently considering the use of genetic knowledge and technology to select for or against a gene that causes deafness.
In the part on the science of genetics, Orit Dagan, Karen B. Avraham, Kathleen S. Arnos, and Arti Pandya clarify the choices presented by genetic engineering, and geneticist Walter E. Nance emphasizes the importance of science in offering individuals knowledge from which they can fashion their own decisions. In the concluding section, Christopher Krentz raises moral questions about the ever-continuing search for human perfection, and Michael Bérubé argues that disability should be considered democratically to ensure full participation of disabled people in all decisions that might affect them.
The announcement in 2003 that the Human Genome Project had completed its map of the entire human genome was heralded as a stunning scientific breakthrough: our first full picture of the basic building blocks of human life. Since then, boasts about the benefits—and warnings of the dangers—of genomics have remained front-page news, with everyone agreeing that genomics has the potential to radically alter life as we know it.
For the nonscientist, the claims and counterclaims are dizzying—what does it really mean to understand the genome? Barry Barnes and John Dupré offer an answer to that question and much more in Genomes and What to Make of Them, a clear and lively account of the genomic revolution and its promise. The book opens with a brief history of the science of genetics and genomics, from Mendel to Watson and Crick and all the way up to Craig Venter; from there the authors delve into the use of genomics in determining evolutionary paths—and what it can tell us, for example, about how far we really have come from our ape ancestors. Barnes and Dupré then consider both the power and risks of genetics, from the economic potential of plant genomes to overblown claims that certain human genes can be directly tied to such traits as intelligence or homosexuality. Ultimately, the authors argue, we are now living with a new knowledge as powerful in its way as nuclear physics, and the stark choices that face us—between biological warfare and gene therapy, a new eugenics or a new agricultural revolution—will demand the full engagement of both scientists and citizens.
Written in straightforward language but without denying the complexity of the issues, Genomes and What to Make of Them is both an up-to-date primer and a blueprint for the future.
The secrets locked in our genes are being revealed, and we find ourselves both enthused and frightened about what that portends. We look forward to curing disease and alleviating suffering—for our children as well as for ourselves—but we also worry about delving too deeply into the double helix. Abuses perpetrated by eugenicists—from involuntary sterilization to murder—continue to taint our feelings about genetic screening.
Yet, as Ruth Schwartz Cowan reveals, modern genetic screening has been practiced since 1960, benefiting millions of women and children all over the world. She persuasively argues that new forms of screening—prenatal, newborn, and carrier testing—are both morally right and politically acceptable. Medical genetics, built on the desire of parents and physicians to reduce suffering and increase personal freedom, not on the desire to “improve the human race,” is in fact an entirely different enterprise from eugenics.
Cowan’s narrative moves from an account of the interwoven histories of genetics and eugenics in the first half of the twentieth century, to the development of new forms of genetic screening after mid-century. It includes illuminating chapters on the often misunderstood testing programs for sickle cell anemia, and on the world’s only mandated premarital screening programs, both of them on the island of Cyprus.
Neither minimizing the difficulty of the choices that modern genetics has created for us nor fearing them, Cowan bravely and compassionately argues that we can improve the quality of our own lives and the lives of our children by using the modern science and technology of genetic screening responsibly.
By focusing on chromosomes, Heredity under the Microscope offers a new history of postwar human genetics. Today chromosomes are understood as macromolecular assemblies and are analyzed with a variety of molecular techniques. Yet for much of the twentieth century, researchers studied chromosomes by looking through a microscope. Unlike any other technique, chromosome analysis offered a direct glimpse of the complete human genome, opening up seemingly endless possibilities for observation and intervention. Critics, however, countered that visual evidence was not enough and pointed to the need to understand the molecular mechanisms.
Telling this history in full for the first time, Soraya de Chadarevian argues that the often bewildering variety of observations made under the microscope were central to the study of human genetics. Making space for microscope-based practices alongside molecular approaches, de Chadarevian analyzes the close connections between genetics and an array of scientific, medical, ethical, legal, and policy concerns in the atomic age. By exploring the visual evidence provided by chromosome research in the context of postwar biology and medicine, Heredity under the Microscope sheds new light on the cultural history of the human genome.
Human Gene Therapy
Eve Nichols Harvard University Press, 1988 Library of Congress RB155.8.N53 1988 | Dewey Decimal 616.042
This is a landmark introduction to the facts and hopes of gene therapy: an exciting, albeit controversial, technique that could bring about a new age in medical treatment. Modern medicine has had relatively little to offer children with disorders such as thalassemia and severe combined immune deficiency. Many of these young patients still face repeated hospitalizations and, often, an early death. In gene therapy, a child with life-threatening genetic disease caused by a defect in a single gene will he treated with the gene’s normal counterpart. Successful development of somatic cell gene therapy is potentially the most effective new therapeutic approach to helping these children lead normal lives.
With unusual clarity of style, Eve K. Nichols (author of the acclaimed Mobilizing Against AIDS) explores the potential for gene therapy and identifies those who are candidates for it. She reviews methods for diagnosing genetic diseases and evaluates current forms of therapy. Having provided a biomedical background for understanding somatic cell gene therapy, Nichols takes a thoughtful look at complex and sensitive issues surrounding ethical, economic, and policy aspects of manipulating human genes. A straightforward analysis of the current limitations and future potential of gene therapy concludes her broadly accessible account.
This book is is derived from the annual session of the prestigious Institute of Medicine. Distinguished participants in this meeting, such as Leon Rosenberg (Dean of the Yale Medical School), Philip Leder (Harvard Medical School), David Martin (Vice President, Genentech, Inc.), James Wyngaarden (Director of the National Institutes of Health), and LeRoy Walters (Director of the Center for Bioethics, Georgetown University), have contributed expert perspectives that will establish this book as a standard of excellence for future studies. A preface by Frank Press, President of the National Academy of Sciences, provides an insightful overview of this promising new therapy.
The Language of Genetics: An Introduction is the seventh title published in the Templeton Science and Religion Series, in which scientists from a wide range of fields distill their experience and knowledge into brief tours of their respective specialties. In this volume, Dr. Denis R. Alexander offers readers a basic toolkit of information, explanations, and ideas that can help us grasp something of the fascination and the challenge of the language of genetics.
Alexander surveys the big picture, covering such topics as the birth of the field; DNA: what it is, how it works, and how it was discovered; our genetic history; the role of genes in diseases, epigenetics, and genetic engineering. The book assumes the reader has little scientific background, least of all in genetics, and approaches these issues in a very accessible way, free of specialized or overly technical jargon. In the last chapter, Dr. Alexander explores some of the big questions raised by genetics: what are its implications for notions of human value and uniqueness? Is evolution consistent with religious belief? If we believe in a God of love, then how come the evolutionary process, utterly dependent upon the language of genetics, is so wasteful and involves so much pain and suffering? How far should we go in manipulating the human genome? Does genetics subvert the idea that life has some ultimate meaning and purpose?
Genetics is a rapidly advancing field; it seems new discoveries make headlines every other week. The Language of Genetics is intended to give the general reader the knowledge he or she needs to assess and understand the next big story
What makes us alive? Is it our DNA? Our genetics? Is it our atomic composition that gives us life? Somehow, all of this feels radically dissonant from our everyday experience. In Life beyond Molecules and Genes, experimental biologist Stephen Rothman makes the bold case that it is, in fact, our adaptive abilities, hewn by evolution, that make us alive. In making this point, he reveals a hidden harmony between science and life as we live it.
The traditionally accepted understanding of adaptive properties (e.g., the abilities to obtain food, avoid predators, procreate) has been that these are actions of living things or traits that they express. Rothman makes the provocative assertion that this foundational element of the modern materialist perspective is entirely backwards. Our adaptive properties do not exist because we are alive, but rather we are alive because they exist. The implications of this assertion turn the theory of evolution by natural selection on its head by revealing that life transcends its material nature.
Students and scholars of the biological sciences as well as those interested in the philosophy of science will find this work both fascinating and challenging, perhaps even controversial. For centuries, the field of biology has focused on the seemingly mundane task of identifying and cataloging life's chemical substances, while ignoring its grand question: "What is it that makes us alive?" With Life beyond Molecules and Genes, perhaps the field will move a bit closer toward an answer.
A majority of evolutionary biologists believe that we now can envision our biological predecessors—not the first, but nearly the first, living beings on Earth. Life from an RNA World is about these vanished forebears, sketching them in the distant past just as their workings first began to resemble our own. The advances that have made such a pursuit possible are rarely discussed outside of bio-labs. So here, says author Michael Yarus, is an album for interested non-biologists, an introduction to our relatives in deep time, slouching between the first rudimentary life on Earth and the appearance of more complex beings.
The era between, and the focus of Yarus’ work, is called the RNA world. It is RNA (ribonucleic acid) long believed to be a mere biologic copier and messenger, that offers us this glimpse into our ancient predecessors. To describe early RNA creatures, here called “ribocytes” or RNA cells, Yarus deploys some basics of molecular biology. He reviews our current understanding of the tree of life, examines the structure of RNA itself, explains the operation of the genetic code, and covers much else—all in an effort to reveal a departed biological world across billions of years between its heyday and ours.
Courting controversy among those who question the role of “ribocytes”—citing the chemical fragility of RNA and the uncertainty about the origin of an RNA synthetic apparatus—Yarus offers an invaluable vision of early life on Earth. And his book makes that early form of life, our ancestor within, accessible to all of us.
People have searched for the fountain of youth everywhere from Bimini to St. Augustine. But for a steadfast group of scientists, the secret to a long life lies elsewhere: in the lowly lab worm. By suppressing the function of just a few key genes, these scientists were able to lengthen worms’ lifespans up to tenfold, while also controlling the onset of many of the physical problems that beset old age. As the global population ages, the potential impact of this discovery on society is vast—as is the potential for profit.
With The Longevity Seekers, science writer Ted Anton takes readers inside this tale that began with worms and branched out to snare innovative minds from California to Crete, investments from big biotech, and endorsements from TV personalities like Oprah and Dr. Oz. Some of the research was remarkable, such as the discovery of an enzyme in humans that stops cells from aging. And some, like an oft-cited study touting the compound resveratrol, found in red wine—proved highly controversial, igniting a science war over truth, credit, and potential profit. As the pace of discovery accelerated, so too did powerful personal rivalries and public fascination, driven by the hope that a longer, healthier life was right around the corner. Anton has spent years interviewing and working with the scientists at the frontier of longevity science, and this book offers a behind-the-scenes look at the state-of-the-art research and the impact it might have on global public health, society, and even our friends and family.
With spectacular science and an unforgettable cast of characters, The Longevity Seekers has all the elements of a great story and sheds light on discoveriesthat could fundamentally reshape human life.
The common fruit fly, Drosophila, has long been one of the most productive of all laboratory animals. From 1910 to 1940, the center of Drosophila culture in America was the school of Thomas Hunt Morgan and his students Alfred Sturtevant and Calvin Bridges. They first created "standard" flies through inbreeding and by organizing a network for exchanging stocks of flies that spread their practices around the world.
In Lords of the Fly, Robert E. Kohler argues that fly laboratories are a special kind of ecological niche in which the wild fruit fly is transformed into an artificial animal with a distinctive natural history. He shows that the fly was essentially a laboratory tool whose startling productivity opened many new lines of genetic research. Kohler also explores the moral economy of the "Drosophilists": the rules for regulating access to research tools, allocating credit for achievements, and transferring authority from one generation of scientists to the next.
By closely examining the Drosophilists' culture and customs, Kohler reveals essential features of how experimental scientists do their work.
For the past 175 years, the Latter-day Saint Church has taught that Native Americans and Polynesians are descended from ancient seafaring Israelites. Recent DNA research confirms what anthropologists have been saying for nearly as many years, that Native Americans are originally from Siberia and Polynesians from Southeast Asia. In the current volume, molecular biologist Simon Southerton explains the theology and the science and how the former is being reshaped by the latter.
In the Book of Mormon, the Jewish prophet Lehi says the following after arriving by boat in America in 600 BCE:
Wherefore, I, Lehi, have obtained a promise, that inasmuch as those whom the Lord God shall bring out of the land of Jerusalem shall keep his commandments, they shall prosper upon the face of this land; and they shall be kept from all other nations, that they may possess this land unto themselves (2 Ne. 1:9).
Making PCR is the fascinating, behind-the-scenes account of the invention of one of the most significant biotech discoveries in our time—the polymerase chain reaction. Transforming the practice and potential of molecular biology, PCR extends scientists' ability to identify and manipulate genetic materials and accurately reproduces millions of copies of a given segment in a short period of time. It makes abundant what was once scarce—the genetic material required for experimentation.
Making PCR explores the culture of biotechnology as it emerged at Certus Corporation during the 1980s and focuses on its distinctive configuration of scientific, technical, social, economic, political, and legal elements, each of which had its own separate trajectory over the preceding decade. The book contains interviews with the remarkable cast of characters who made PCR, including Kary Mullin, the maverick who received the Nobel prize for "discovering" it, as well as the team of young scientists and the company's business leaders.
This book shows how a contingently assembled practice emerged, composed of distinctive subjects, the site where they worked, and the object they invented.
"Paul Rabinow paints a . . . picture of the process of discovery in Making PCR: A Story of Biotechnology [and] teases out every possible detail. . . . Makes for an intriguing read that raises many questions about our understanding of the twisting process of discovery itself."—David Bradley, New Scientist
"Rabinow's book belongs to a burgeoning genre: ethnographic studies of what scientists actually do in the lab. . . . A bold move."—Daniel Zalewski, Lingua Franca
"[Making PCR is] exotic territory, biomedical research, explored. . . . Rabinow describes a dance: the immigration and repatriation of scientists to and from the academic and business worlds."—Nancy Maull, New York Times Book Review
Born by mistake, or connivance, to struggling parents in a small Lancashire cotton town in 1903, an uninspired Darlington inadvertently escaped the obscurity of farming life and rose instead, against all odds, to become within a few short years the world's greatest expert on chromosomes, and one of the most penetrating biological thinkers of the twentieth century. Harman follows Darlington's path from bleak prospects to world fame, showing how, within the most miniscule of worlds, he sought answers to the biggest questions--how species originate, how variation occurs, how Nature, both blind and foreboding, random and insightful, makes her way from deep past to unknown future. But Darlington did not stop there: Chromosomes held within their tiny confines untold, dark truths about man and his culture. This passionate conviction led the once famed Darlington down a path of rebuke, isolation, and finally obscurity.
As The Man Who Invented the Chromosome unfolds Darlington's forgotten tale--the Nazi atrocities, the Cold War, the crackpot Lysenko, the molecular revolution, eugenics, Civil Rights, the welfare state, the changing views of man's place in nature, biological determinism--all were interconnected. Just as Darlington's work provoked him to ask questions about the link between biology and culture, his life raises fundamental questions about the link between science and society.
In genetics laboratories in Latin America, scientists have been mapping the genomes of local populations, seeking to locate the genetic basis of complex diseases and to trace population histories. As part of their work, geneticists often calculate the European, African, and Amerindian genetic ancestry of populations. Some researchers explicitly connect their findings to questions of national identity and racial and ethnic difference, bringing their research to bear on issues of politics and identity.
Drawing on ethnographic research in Brazil, Colombia, and Mexico, the contributors to Mestizo Genomics explore how the concepts of race, ethnicity, nation, and gender enter into and are affected by genomic research. In Latin America, national identities are often based on ideas about mestizaje (race mixture), rather than racial division. Since mestizaje is said to involve relations between European men and indigenous or African women, gender is a key factor in Latin American genomics and in the analyses in this book. Also important are links between contemporary genomics and recent moves toward official multiculturalism in Brazil, Colombia, and Mexico. One of the first studies of its kind, Mestizo Genomics sheds new light on the interrelations between "race," identity, and genomics in Latin America.
Contributors. Adriana Díaz del Castillo H., Roosbelinda Cárdenas, Vivette García Deister, Verlan Valle Gaspar Neto, Michael Kent, Carlos López Beltrán, María Fernanda Olarte Sierra, Eduardo Restrepo, Mariana Rios Sandoval, Ernesto Schwartz-Marín, Ricardo Ventura Santos, Peter Wade
The Misunderstood Gene
Michel Morange Harvard University Press, 2001 Library of Congress QH447.M6713 2001 | Dewey Decimal 572.86
At a time when the complete human genome has been sequenced and when seemingly every week feature news stories describe genes that may be responsible for personality, intelligence, even happiness, Michel Morange gives us a book that demystifies the power of modern genetics. The Misunderstood Gene takes us on an easily comprehensible tour of the most recent findings in molecular biology to show us how--and if--genes contribute to biological processes and complex human behaviors.
As Morange explains, if molecular biologists had to designate one category of molecules as essential to life, it would be proteins and their multiple functions, not DNA and genes. Genes are the centerpiece of modern biology because they can be modified. But they are only the memory that life invented so that proteins could be efficiently reproduced. Morange shows us that there is far more richness and meaning in the structure and interactions of proteins than in all the theoretical speculations on the role of genes.
The Misunderstood Gene makes it clear that we do not have to choose between rigid genetic determinism and fearful rejection of any specific role for genes in development or behavior. Both are true, but at different levels of organization. Morange agrees with those who say "we are not in our genes." But he also wants us to understand that we are not without our genes, either. We are going to have to make do with them, and this book will show us how.
The promise of genetic engineering in the early 1970s to profoundly reshape the living world activated a variety of social interests in its future promotion and control. With public safety, gene patents, and the future of genetic research at stake, a wide range of interest groups competed for control over this powerful new technology.
In this comparative study of the development of regulatory policy for genetic engineering in the United States and the United Kingdom, Susan Wright analyzes government responses to the struggles among corporations, scientists, universities, trade unions, and public interest groups over regulating this new field. Drawing on archival materials, government records, and interviews with industry executives, politicians, scientists, trade unionists, and others on both sides of the Atlantic, Molecular Politics provides a comprehensive account of a crucial set of policy decisions and explores their implications for the political economy of science.
By combining methods from political science and the history of science, Wright advances a provocative interpretation of the evolution of genetic engineering policy and makes a major contribution to science and public policy studies.
Inbreeding, the mating of close kin, and outbreeding, the mating of distant relatives or unrelated organisms, have long been important subjects to evolutionary biologists. Inbreeding reduces genetic diversity in a population, increasing the likelihood that genetic defects will become widespread and deprive a population of the diversity it may need to cope with its environment. Most plants and animals have evolved behavioral and morphological mechanisms to avoid inbreeding. However, today many endangered species exist only in small, very isolated populations where inbreeding is unavoidable, so it has become a concern for conservationists. In this volume, twenty-six experts in evolution, behavior, and genetics examine the causes and consequences of inbreeding.
The authors ask whether inbreeding is as problematic as biologists have thought, under what ecological conditions inbreeding occurs, and whether organisms that inbreed have mechanisms to dampen the anticipated problems of reduced genetic variation. The studies, including theoretical and empirical work on wild and captive populations, demonstrate that many plants and animals inbreed to a greater extent than biologists have thought, with variable effects on individual fitness. Graduate students and researchers in evolutionary biology, animal behavior, ecology, and conservation biology will welcome this wide-ranging collection.
“Engineering” has firmly taken root in the entangled bank of biology even as proposals to remake the living world have sent tendrils in every direction, and at every scale. Nature Remade explores these complex prospects from a resolutely historical approach, tracing cases across the decades of the long twentieth century. These essays span the many levels at which life has been engineered: molecule, cell, organism, population, ecosystem, and planet. From the cloning of agricultural crops and the artificial feeding of silkworms to biomimicry, genetic engineering, and terraforming, Nature Remade affirms the centrality of engineering in its various forms for understanding and imagining modern life. Organized around three themes—control and reproduction, knowing as making, and envisioning—the chapters in Nature Remade chart different means, scales, and consequences of intervening and reimagining nature.
The Faustian bargain—in which an individual or group collaborates with an evil entity in order to obtain knowledge, power, or material gain—is perhaps best exemplified by the alliance between world-renowned human geneticists and the Nazi state. Under the swastika, German scientists descended into the moral abyss, perpetrating heinous medical crimes at Auschwitz and at euthanasia hospitals. But why did biomedical researchers accept such a bargain?
The Nazi Symbiosis offers a nuanced account of the myriad ways human heredity and Nazi politics reinforced each other before and during the Third Reich. Exploring the ethical and professional consequences for the scientists involved as well as the political ramifications for Nazi racial policies, Sheila Faith Weiss places genetics and eugenics in their larger international context. In questioning whether the motives that propelled German geneticists were different from the compromises that researchers from other countries and eras face, Weiss extends her argument into our modern moment, as we confront the promises and perils of genomic medicine today.
Recent discoveries about wild chimpanzees have dramatically reshaped our understanding of these great apes and their kinship with humans. We now know that chimpanzees not only have genomes similar to our own but also plot political coups, wage wars over territory, pass on cultural traditions to younger generations, and ruthlessly strategize for resources, including sexual partners. In The New Chimpanzee, Craig Stanford challenges us to let apes guide our inquiry into what it means to be human.
With wit and lucidity, Stanford explains what the past two decades of chimpanzee field research has taught us about the origins of human social behavior, the nature of aggression and communication, and the divergence of humans and apes from a common ancestor. Drawing on his extensive observations of chimpanzee behavior and social dynamics, Stanford adds to our knowledge of chimpanzees’ political intelligence, sexual power plays, violent ambition, cultural diversity, and adaptability.
The New Chimpanzee portrays a complex and even more humanlike ape than the one Jane Goodall popularized more than a half century ago. It also sounds an urgent call for the protection of our nearest relatives at a moment when their survival is at risk.
Ordinary Genomes is an ethnography of genomics, a global scientific enterprise, as it is understood and practiced in the Netherlands. Karen-Sue Taussig’s analysis of the Dutch case illustrates how scientific knowledge and culture are entwined: Genetics may transform society, but society also transforms genetics. Taussig traces the experiences of Dutch people as they encounter genetics in research labs, clinics, the media, and everyday life. Through vivid descriptions of specific diagnostic processes, she illuminates the open and evolving nature of genetic categories, the ways that abnormal genetic diagnoses are normalized, and the ways that race, ethnicity, gender, and religion inform diagnoses. Taussig contends that in the Netherlands ideas about genetics are shaped by the desire for ordinariness and the commitment to tolerance, two highly-valued yet sometimes contradictory Dutch social ideals, as well as by Dutch history and concerns about immigration and European unification. She argues that the Dutch enable a social ideal of tolerance by demarcating and containing difference so as to minimize its social threat. It is within this particular construction of tolerance that the Dutch manage the meaning of genetic difference.
Technology evolves at a dazzling speed, and nowhere more so than in the field of genetic engineering, where the possibility of directly changing the genes of one's children is quickly becoming a reality. The public is rightly concerned, but interestingly, they have not had much to say about the implications of recent advancements in human genetics.
Playing God? asks why and explores the social forces that have led to the thinning out of public debate over human genetic engineering. John H. Evans contends that the problem lies in the structure of the debate itself. Disputes over human genetic engineering concern the means for achieving assumed ends, rather than being a healthy discussion about the ends themselves. According to Evans, this change in focus occurred as the jurisdiction over the debate shifted from scientists to bioethicists, a change which itself was caused by the rise of the bureaucratic state as the authority in such matters. The implications of this timely study are twofold. Evans not only explores how decisions about the ethics of human genetic engineering are made, but also shows how the structure of the debate has led to the technological choices we now face.
The Poetics of DNA
Judith Roof University of Minnesota Press, 2007 Library of Congress QP624.R66 2007 | Dewey Decimal 572.86
How has DNA come to be seen as a cosmic truth, representative of all life, potential for all cures, repository for all identity, and end to all stories? In The Poetics of DNA, Judith Roof examines the rise of this powerful symbol and the implications of its ascendancy for the ways we think—about ourselves, about one another, and about the universe.
Descriptions of DNA, Roof argues, have distorted ideas and transformed nucleic acid into the answer to all questions of life. This hyperbolized notion of DNA, inevitably confused or conflated with the “gene,” has become a vector through which older ways of thinking can merge with the new, advancing long-discredited and insidious ideas about such things as eugenics and racial selection and influencing contemporary debates, particularly the popular press obsession with the “gay gene.” Through metaphors of DNA, she contends, racist and homophobic ideology is masked as progressive science.
Grappling with twentieth-century intellectual movements as well as contemporary societal anxieties, The Poetics of DNA reveals how descriptions of DNA and genes typify a larger set of epistemological battles that play out not only through the assumptions associated with DNA but also through less evident methods of magical thinking, reductionism, and pseudoscience.
For the first time, Roof exposes the ideology and cultural consequences of DNA and gene metaphors to uncover how, ultimately, they are paradigms used to recreate prejudices.
Judith Roof is professor of English and film studies at Michigan State University. She is the author of several books, including All about Thelma and Eve: Sidekicks and Third Wheels.
One of this century's leading evolutionary biologists, Motoo Kimura revolutionized the field with his random drift theory of molecular evolution—the neutral theory—and his groundbreaking theoretical work in population genetics. This volume collects 57 of Kimura's most important papers and covers forty years of his diverse and original contributions to our understanding of how genetic variation affects evolutionary change.
Kimura's neutral theory, first presented in 1968, challenged the notion that natural selection was the sole directive force in evolution. Arguing that mutations and random drift account for variations at the level of DNA and amino acids, Kimura advanced a theory of evolutionary change that was strongly challenged at first and that eventually earned the respect and interest of evolutionary biologists throughout the world. This volume includes the seminal papers on the neutral theory, as well as many others that cover such topics as population structure, variable selection intensity, the genetics of quantitative characters, inbreeding systems, and reversibility of changes by random drift.
Background essays by Naoyuki Takahata examine Kimura's work in relation to its effects and recent developments in each area.
Now that we have sequenced the human genome, what does it mean? In The Postgenomic Condition, Jenny Reardon critically examines the decade after the Human Genome Project, and the fundamental questions about meaning, value and justice this landmark achievement left in its wake.
Drawing on more than a decade of research—in molecular biology labs, commercial startups, governmental agencies, and civic spaces—Reardon demonstrates how the extensive efforts to transform genomics from high tech informatics practiced by a few to meaningful knowledge beneficial to all exposed the limits of long-cherished liberal modes of knowing and governing life. Those in the American South challenged the value of being included in genomics when no hospital served their community. Ethicists and lawyers charged with overseeing Scottish DNA and data questioned how to develop a system of ownership for these resources when their capacity to create things of value—new personalized treatments—remained largely unrealized. Molecular biologists who pioneered genomics asked whether their practices of thinking could survive the deluge of data produced by the growing power of sequencing machines. While the media is filled with grand visions of precision medicine, The Postgenomic Condition shares these actual challenges of the scientists, entrepreneurs, policy makers, bioethicists, lawyers, and patient advocates who sought to leverage liberal democratic practices to render genomic data a new source of meaning and value for interpreting and caring for life. It brings into rich empirical focus the resulting hard on-the-ground questions about how to know and live on a depleted but data-rich, interconnected yet fractured planet, where technoscience garners significant resources, but deeper questions of knowledge and justice urgently demand attention.
Ten years after the Human Genome Project’s completion the life sciences stand in a moment of uncertainty, transition, and contestation. The postgenomic era has seen rapid shifts in research methodology, funding, scientific labor, and disciplinary structures. Postgenomics is transforming our understanding of disease and health, our environment, and the categories of race, class, and gender. At the same time, the gene retains its centrality and power in biological and popular discourse. The contributors to Postgenomics analyze these ruptures and continuities and place them in historical, social, and political context. Postgenomics, they argue, forces a rethinking of the genome itself, and opens new territory for conversations between the social sciences, humanities, and life sciences.
Contributors. Russ Altman, Rachel A. Ankeny, Catherine Bliss, John Dupré, Michael Fortun, Evelyn Fox Keller, Sabina Leonelli, Adrian Mackenzie, Margot Moinester, Aaron Panofsky, Sarah S. Richardson, Sara Shostak, Hallam Stevens
Quantitative genetics—the statistical study of the inheritance of traits within a population—has become an important tool for studying the evolution of behavior in the last decade. Quantitative Genetic Studies of Behavioral Evolution examines the theory and methods of quantitative genetics and presents case studies that illustrate the many ways in which the methods can be applied.
Christine R. B. Boake brings together current theoretical and empirical studies to show how quantitative genetics can illuminate topics as diverse as sexual selection, migration, sociality, and aggressive behavior. Nearly half of the chapters focus on conceptual issues, ranging from quantitative genetic models to the complementary roles of quantitative genetic and optimality approaches in evolutionary studies. Other chapters illustrate how to use the techniques by providing surveys of research fields, such as the evolution of mating behavior, sexual selection, migration, and size-dependent behavioral variation. The balance of the volume offers case studies of territoriality in fruit flies, cannibalism in flour beetles, mate-attractive traits in crickets, locomotor behavior and physiology in the garter snake, and cold adaptation in the house mouse. Taken together, these studies document both the benefits and pitfalls of quantitative genetics.
This book shows the advanced student and scholar of behavioral evolution and genetics the many powerful uses of quantitative genetics in behavioral research.
The Relationship Code is the report of a longitudinal study, conducted over a ten-year period, of the influence of family relationships and genetic factors on competence and psychopathology in adolescent development. The sample for this landmark study included 720 pairs of same-sex adolescent siblings—including twins, half siblings, and genetically unrelated siblings—and their parents.
Using a clear expressive style, David Reiss and his coinvestigators identify specific mechanisms that link genetic factors and the social environment in psychological development. They propose a striking hypothesis: family relationships are crucial to the expression of genetic influences on a broad array of complex behaviors in adolescents. Moreover, this role of family relationships may be very specific: some genetic factors are linked to mother–child relationships, others to father–child relations, some to relationship warmth, while others are linked to relationship conflict or control. The specificity of these links suggests that family relationships may constitute a code for translating genetic influences into the ontogeny of behaviors, a code every bit as important for behavior as DNA-RNA.
Human genomes are 99.9 percent identical—with one prominent exception. Instead of a matching pair of X chromosomes, men carry a single X, coupled with a tiny chromosome called the Y. Tracking the emergence of a new and distinctive way of thinking about sex represented by the unalterable, simple, and visually compelling binary of the X and Y chromosomes, Sex Itself examines the interaction between cultural gender norms and genetic theories of sex from the beginning of the twentieth century to the present, postgenomic age.
Using methods from history, philosophy, and gender studies of science, Sarah S. Richardson uncovers how gender has helped to shape the research practices, questions asked, theories and models, and descriptive language used in sex chromosome research. From the earliest theories of chromosomal sex determination, to the mid-century hypothesis of the aggressive XYY supermale, to the debate about Y chromosome degeneration, to the recent claim that male and female genomes are more different than those of humans and chimpanzees, Richardson shows how cultural gender conceptions influence the genetic science of sex.
Richardson shows how sexual science of the past continues to resonate, in ways both subtle and explicit, in contemporary research on the genetics of sex and gender. With the completion of the Human Genome Project, genes and chromosomes are moving to the center of the biology of sex. Sex Itself offers a compelling argument for the importance of ongoing critical dialogue on how cultural conceptions of gender operate within the science of sex.
Rudolf Raff is recognized as a pioneer in evolutionary developmental biology. In their 1983 book, Embryos, Genes, and Evolution, Raff and co-author Thomas Kaufman proposed a synthesis of developmental and evolutionary biology. In The Shape of Life, Raff analyzes the rise of this new experimental discipline and lays out new research questions, hypotheses, and approaches to guide its development.
Raff uses the evolution of animal body plans to exemplify the interplay between developmental mechanisms and evolutionary patterns. Animal body plans emerged half a billion years ago. Evolution within these body plans during this span of time has resulted in the tremendous diversity of living animal forms.
Raff argues for an integrated approach to the study of the intertwined roles of development and evolution involving phylogenetic, comparative, and functional biology. This new synthesis will interest not only scientists working in these areas, but also paleontologists, zoologists, morphologists, molecular biologists, and geneticists.
The Society of Genes
Itai Yanai and Martin Lercher Harvard University Press, 2016 Library of Congress QH437.Y36 2015 | Dewey Decimal 576.5
Nearly four decades ago Richard Dawkins published The Selfish Gene, famously reducing humans to “survival machines” whose sole purpose was to preserve “the selfish molecules known as genes.” How these selfish genes work together to construct the organism, however, remained a mystery. Standing atop a wealth of new research, The Society of Genes now provides a vision of how genes cooperate and compete in the struggle for life.
Pioneers in the nascent field of systems biology, Itai Yanai and Martin Lercher present a compelling new framework to understand how the human genome evolved and why understanding the interactions among our genes shifts the basic paradigm of modern biology. Contrary to what Dawkins’s popular metaphor seems to imply, the genome is not made of individual genes that focus solely on their own survival. Instead, our genomes comprise a society of genes which, like human societies, is composed of members that form alliances and rivalries.
In language accessible to lay readers, The Society of Genes uncovers genetic strategies of cooperation and competition at biological scales ranging from individual cells to entire species. It captures the way the genome works in cancer cells and Neanderthals, in sexual reproduction and the origin of life, always underscoring one critical point: that only by putting the interactions among genes at center stage can we appreciate the logic of life.
Charles Darwin struggled to explain how forty thousand bees working in the dark, seemingly by instinct alone, could organize themselves to construct something as perfect as a honey comb. How do bees accomplish such incredible tasks? Synthesizing the findings of decades of experiments, The Spirit of the Hive presents a comprehensive picture of the genetic and physiological mechanisms underlying the division of labor in honey bee colonies and explains how bees’ complex social behavior has evolved over millions of years.
Robert Page, one of the foremost honey bee geneticists in the world, sheds light on how the coordinated activity of hives arises naturally when worker bees respond to stimuli in their environment. The actions they take in turn alter the environment and so change the stimuli for their nestmates. For example, a bee detecting ample stores of pollen in the hive is inhibited from foraging for more, whereas detecting the presence of hungry young larvae will stimulate pollen gathering. Division of labor, Page shows, is an inevitable product of group living, because individual bees vary genetically and physiologically in their sensitivities to stimuli and have different probabilities of encountering and responding to them.
A fascinating window into self-organizing regulatory networks of honey bees, The Spirit of the Hive applies genomics, evolution, and behavior to elucidate the details of social structure and advance our understanding of complex adaptive systems in nature.
In this detailed historical and sociological study of the development of scientific ideas, Jonathan Harwood argues that there is no such thing as a unitary scientific method driven by an internal logic. Rather, there are national styles of science that are defined by different values, norms, assumptions, research traditions, and funding patterns.
The first book-length treatment of genetics in Germany, Styles of Scientific Thought demonstrates the influence of culture on science by comparing the American with the German scientific traditions. Harwood examines the structure of academic and research institutions, the educational backgrounds of geneticists, and cultural traditions, among many factors, to explain why the American approach was much more narrowly focussed than the German.
This tremendously rich book fills a gap between histories of the physical sciences in the Weimar Republic and other works on the humanities and the arts during the intellectually innovative 1920s, and it will interest European historians, as well as sociologists and philosophers of science.
Darwin’s nineteenth-century writings laid the foundations for modern studies of evolution, and theoretical developments in the mid-twentieth century fostered the Modern Synthesis. Since that time, a great deal of new biological knowledge has been generated, including details of the genetic code, lateral gene transfer, and developmental constraints. Our improved understanding of these and many other phenomena have been working their way into evolutionary theory, changing it and improving its correspondence with evolution in nature. And while the study of evolution is thriving both as a basic science to understand the world and in its applications in agriculture, medicine, and public health, the broad scope of evolution—operating across genes, whole organisms, clades, and ecosystems—presents a significant challenge for researchers seeking to integrate abundant new data and content into a general theory of evolution.
This book gives us that framework and synthesis for the twenty-first century. The Theory of Evolution presents a series of chapters by experts seeking this integration by addressing the current state of affairs across numerous fields within evolutionary biology, ranging from biogeography to multilevel selection, speciation, and macroevolutionary theory. By presenting current syntheses of evolution’s theoretical foundations and their growth in light of new datasets and analyses, this collection will enhance future research and understanding.
One of our most brilliant evolutionary biologists, Richard Lewontin has also been a leading critic of those—scientists and non-scientists alike—who would misuse the science to which he has contributed so much. In The Triple Helix, Lewontin the scientist and Lewontin the critic come together to provide a concise, accessible account of what his work has taught him about biology and about its relevance to human affairs. In the process, he exposes some of the common and troubling misconceptions that misdirect and stall our understanding of biology and evolution.
The central message of this book is that we will never fully understand living things if we continue to think of genes, organisms, and environments as separate entities, each with its distinct role to play in the history and operation of organic processes. Here Lewontin shows that an organism is a unique consequence of both genes and environment, of both internal and external features. Rejecting the notion that genes determine the organism, which then adapts to the environment, he explains that organisms, influenced in their development by their circumstances, in turn create, modify, and choose the environment in which they live.
The Triple Helix is vintage Lewontin: brilliant, eloquent, passionate, and deeply critical. But it is neither a manifesto for a radical new methodology nor a brief for a new theory. It is instead a primer on the complexity of biological processes, a reminder to all of us that living things are never as simple as they may seem.
Gonorrhea. Bed bugs. Weeds. Salamanders. People. All are evolving, some surprisingly rapidly, in response to our chemical age. In Unnatural Selection, Emily Monosson shows how our drugs, pesticides, and pollution are exerting intense selection pressure on all manner of species. And we humans might not like the result.
Monosson reveals that the very code of life is more fluid than once imagined. When our powerful chemicals put the pressure on to evolve or die, beneficial traits can sweep rapidly through a population. Species with explosive population growth—the bugs, bacteria, and weeds—tend to thrive, while bigger, slower-to-reproduce creatures, like ourselves, are more likely to succumb.
Monosson explores contemporary evolution in all its guises. She examines the species that we are actively trying to beat back, from agricultural pests to life-threatening bacteria, and those that are collateral damage—creatures struggling to adapt to a polluted world. Monosson also presents cutting-edge science on gene expression, showing how environmental stressors are leaving their mark on plants, animals, and possibly humans for generations to come.
Unnatural Selection is eye-opening and more than a little disquieting. But it also suggests how we might lessen our impact: manage pests without creating super bugs; protect individuals from disease without inviting epidemics; and benefit from technology without threatening the health of our children.
The rampant use of genetically modified food incites fierce and seemingly intractable debates among environmental activists, scientists, government regulators, and representatives of the food and agriculture industries. While some portray GMOs as scientific progress, others frame them as a form of perverted science. But why, exactly, are they so controversial? This timely and balanced book explores the science—and myth—that surrounds genetically modified food in order to help us understand just what’s at stake.
John T. Lang begins by grounding the debates in the biology and chemistry behind genetic modification. He then shows how food is deeply imbued with religious, social, cultural, and ethical meanings, which bring a variety of non-scientific issues to the forefront and make genetically modified food a proxy for larger debates regarding topics such as globalization and corporate greed. Centrally, he contends that the controversies surrounding the technology reflect ongoing tensions between social and political power, democratic practice, and corporate responsibility. As Lang illustrates, while modern, mechanized, and genetically enhanced production has given the consumer an unprecedented variety and quantity of food, it has also introduced new social and environmental vulnerabilities and uncertainties into the global food system.
Bringing together science, politics, economics, and culture, this book offers a deeply informed look at an important aspect of modern agriculture. It will prove invaluable to anyone who shops at the grocery store, whether they like the benefits that genetic modification has to offer or fear that nature is something we should have left alone.
Saving lives versus taking lives: These are the stark terms in which the public regards human embryo research--a battleground of extremes, a war between science and ethics. Such a simplistic dichotomy, encouraged by vociferous opponents of abortion and proponents of medical research, is precisely what Jane Maienschein seeks to counter with this book. Whose View of Life? brings the current debates into sharper focus by examining developments in stem cell research, cloning, and embryology in historical and philosophical context and by exploring legal, social, and ethical issues at the heart of what has become a political controversy.
Drawing on her experience as a researcher, teacher, and congressional fellow, Jane Maienschein provides historical and contemporary analysis to aid understanding of the scientific and social forces that got us where we are today. For example, she explains the long-established traditions behind conflicting views of how life begins--at conception or gradually, in the course of development. She prepares us to engage a major question of our day: How are we, as a 21st-century democratic society, to navigate a course that is at the same time respectful of the range of competing views of life, built on the strongest possible basis of scientific knowledge, and still able to respond to the momentous opportunities and challenges presented to us by modern biology? Maienschein's multidisciplinary perspective will provide a starting point for further attempts to answer this question.
Do your ears burn whenever you eat hot chile peppers? Does your face immediately flush when you drink alcohol? Does your stomach groan if you are exposed to raw milk or green fava beans? If so, you are probably among the one-third of the world's human population that is sensitive to certain foods due to your genes' interactions with them.
Formerly misunderstood as "genetic disorders," many of these sensitivities are now considered to be adaptations that our ancestors evolved in response to the dietary choices and diseases they faced over millennia in particular landscapes. They are liabilities only when we are "out of place," on globalized diets depleted of certain chemicals that triggered adaptive responses in our ancestors.
In Why Some Like It Hot, an award-winning natural historian takes us on a culinary odyssey to solve the puzzles posed by "the ghosts of evolution" hidden within every culture and its traditional cuisine. As we travel with Nabhan from Java and Bali to Crete and Sardinia, to Hawaii and Mexico, we learn how various ethnic cuisines formerly protected their traditional consumers from both infectious and nutrition-related diseases. We also bear witness to the tragic consequences of the loss of traditional foods, from adult-onset diabetes running rampant among 100 million indigenous peoples to the historic rise in heart disease among individuals of northern European descent.
In this, the most insightful and far-reaching book of his career, Nabhan offers us a view of genes, diets, ethnicity, and place that will forever change the way we understand human health and cultural diversity. This book marks the dawning of evolutionary gastronomy in a way that may save and enrich millions of lives.
A tiny scrap of genetic information determines our sex; it also consigns many of us to a life of disease, directs or disrupts the everyday working of our bodies, and forces women to live as genetic chimeras. The culprit--so necessary and yet the source of such upheaval--is the X chromosome, and this is its story. An enlightening and entertaining tour of the cultural and natural history of this intriguing member of the genome, The X in Sex traces the journey toward our current understanding of the nature of X. From its chance discovery in the nineteenth century to the promise and implications of ongoing research, David Bainbridge shows how the X evolved and where it and its counterpart Y are going, how it helps assign developing human babies their sex--and maybe even their sexuality--and how it affects our lives in infinitely complex and subtle ways. X offers cures for disease, challenges our cultural, ethical, and scientific assumptions about maleness and femaleness, and has even reshaped our views of human evolution and human nature.