front cover of The Age of Scientific Wellness
The Age of Scientific Wellness
Why the Future of Medicine Is Personalized, Predictive, Data-Rich, and in Your Hands
Leroy Hood and Nathan Price
Harvard University Press, 2023

“If you want to understand how the latest advances in genomics and AI can completely transform your health, and to translate this promise into practical tools that you can apply today, read this book!”—Mark Hyman, author of Young Forever

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.

[more]

logo for University of Chicago Press
All God's Mistakes
Genetic Counseling in a Pediatric Hospital
Charles L. Bosk
University of Chicago Press, 1992
In one case after another, Charles L. Bosk reveals the process by which parents, physicians and other health professionals come to guide decisions about pregnancies. A story of both extraordinary drama and ordinary routine, this is a pioneering case study of authority and control in a pediatric hospital, showing how genetic counselors work with colleagues and with parents to be, and how they deal with their powerlessness to control life-and-death decisions that they must address.
[more]

front cover of Biology and Ideology from Descartes to Dawkins
Biology and Ideology from Descartes to Dawkins
Edited by Denis R. Alexander and Ronald L. Numbers
University of Chicago Press, 2010

Over the course of human history, the sciences, and biology in particular, have often been manipulated to cause immense human suffering. For example, biology has been used to justify eugenic programs, forced sterilization, human experimentation, and death camps—all in an attempt to support notions of racial superiority. By investigating the past, the contributors to Biology and Ideology from Descartes to Dawkins hope to better prepare us to discern ideological abuse of science when it occurs in the future.  

Denis R. Alexander and Ronald L. Numbers bring together fourteen experts to examine the varied ways science has been used and abused for nonscientific purposes from the fifteenth century to the present day. Featuring an essay on eugenics from Edward J. Larson and an examination of the progress of evolution by Michael J. Ruse, Biology and Ideology examines uses both benign and sinister, ultimately reminding us that ideological extrapolation continues today. An accessible survey, this collection will enlighten historians of science, their students, practicing scientists, and anyone interested in the relationship between science and culture.

[more]

front cover of The Century of the Gene
The Century of the Gene
Evelyn Fox Keller
Harvard University Press, 2000

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.

[more]

front cover of Contested Reproduction
Contested Reproduction
Genetic Technologies, Religion, and Public Debate
John H. Evans
University of Chicago Press, 2010

Scientific breakthroughs have led us to a point where soon we will be able to make specific choices about the genetic makeup of our offspring. In fact, this reality has arrived—and it is only a matter of time before the technology becomes widespread.

Much like past arguments about stem-cell research, the coming debate over these reproductive genetic technologies (RGTs) will be both political and, for many people, religious. In order to understand how the debate will play out in the United States, John H. Evans conducted the first in-depth study of the claims made about RGTs by religious people from across the political spectrum, and Contested Reproduction is the stimulating result.

Some of the opinions Evans documents are familiar, but others—such as the idea that certain genetic conditions produce a “meaningful suffering” that is, ultimately, desirable—provide a fascinating glimpse of religious reactions to cutting-edge science. Not surprisingly, Evans discovers that for many people opinion on the issue closely relates to their feelings about abortion, but he also finds a shared moral language that offers a way around the unproductive polarization of the abortion debate and other culture-war concerns. Admirably evenhanded, Contested Reproduction is a prescient, profound look into the future of a hot-button issue.

[more]

front cover of Creating a Physical Biology
Creating a Physical Biology
The Three-Man Paper and Early Molecular Biology
Edited by Phillip R. Sloan and Brandon Fogel
University of Chicago Press, 2011
In 1935 geneticist Nikolai Timoféeff-Ressovsky, radiation physicist Karl G. Zimmer, and quantum physicist Max Delbrück published “On the Nature of Gene Mutation and Gene Structure,” known subsequently as the “Three-Man Paper.” This seminal paper advanced work on the physical exploration of the structure of the gene through radiation physics and suggested ways in which physics could reveal definite information about gene structure, mutation, and action. Representing a new level of collaboration between physics and biology, it played an important role in the birth of the new field of molecular biology. The paper’s results were popularized for a wide audience in the What is Life? lectures of physicist Erwin Schrödinger in 1944.
 
Despite its historical impact on the biological sciences, the paper has remained largely inaccessible because it was only published in a short-lived German periodical. Creating a Physical Biology makes the Three Man Paper available in English for the first time. Brandon Fogel’s translation is accompanied by an introductory essay by Fogel and Phillip Sloan and a set of essays by leading historians and philosophers of biology that explore the context, contents, and subsequent influence of the paper, as well as its importance for the wider philosophical analysis of biological reductionism.
[more]

front cover of A Cultural History of Heredity
A Cultural History of Heredity
Staffan Müller-Wille and Hans-Jörg Rheinberger
University of Chicago Press, 2012

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.

[more]

front cover of Disputed Inheritance
Disputed Inheritance
The Battle over Mendel and the Future of Biology
Gregory Radick
University of Chicago Press, 2023
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.
[more]

front cover of The DNA Mystique
The DNA Mystique
The Gene as a Cultural Icon
Dorothy Nelkin and M. Susan Lindee
University of Michigan Press, 2004
"The DNA Mystique is a wake-up call to all who would dismiss America's love affair with 'the gene' as a merely eccentric obsession."
--In These Times

"Nelkin and Lindee are to be warmly congratulated for opening up this intriguing field [of genetics in popular culture] to further study."
--Nature

The DNA Mystique suggests that the gene in popular culture draws on scientific ideas but is not constrained by the technical definition of the gene as a section of DNA that codes for a protein. In highlighting DNA as it appears in soap operas, comic books, advertising, and other expressions of mass culture, the authors propose that these domains provide critical insights into science itself.

With a new introduction and conclusion, this edition will continue to be an engaging, accessible, and provocative text for the sociology, anthropology, and bioethics classroom, as well as stimulating reading for those generally interested in science and culture.
[more]

front cover of Ending the Mendel-Fisher Controversy
Ending the Mendel-Fisher Controversy
Allan Franklin
University of Pittsburgh Press, 2008
In 1865, Gregor Mendel presented “Experiments in Plant-Hybridization,” the results of his eight-year study of the principles of inheritance through experimentation with pea plants. Overlooked in its day, Mendel's work would later become the foundation of modern genetics. Did his pioneering research follow the rigors of real scientific inquiry, or was Mendel's data too good to be true-the product of doctored statistics? 

In Ending the Mendel-Fisher Controversy, leading experts present their conclusions on the legendary controversy surrounding the challenge to Mendel's findings by British statistician and biologist R. A. Fisher. In his 1936 paper “Has Mendel's Work Been Rediscovered?” Fisher suggested that Mendel's data could have been falsified in order to support his expectations. Fisher attributed the falsification to an unknown assistant of Mendel's. At the time, Fisher's criticism did not receive wide attention. Yet beginning in 1964, about the time of the centenary of Mendel's paper, scholars began to publicly discuss whether Fisher had successfully proven that Mendel's data was falsified. Since that time, numerous articles, letters, and comments have been published on the controversy.

This self-contained volume includes everything the reader will need to know about the subject: an overview of the controversy; the original papers of Mendel and Fisher; four of the most important papers on the debate; and new updates, by the authors, of the latter four papers. Taken together, the authors contend, these voices argue for an end to the controversy-making this book the definitive last word on the subject.
[more]

front cover of Evolution and the Genetics of Populations, Volume 1
Evolution and the Genetics of Populations, Volume 1
Genetic and Biometric Foundations
Sewall Wright
University of Chicago Press, 1968
"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
[more]

front cover of Evolution and the Genetics of Populations, Volume 2
Evolution and the Genetics of Populations, Volume 2
Theory of Gene Frequencies
Sewall Wright
University of Chicago Press, 1969
"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
[more]

front cover of Evolution and the Genetics of Populations, Volume 3
Evolution and the Genetics of Populations, Volume 3
Experimental Results and Evolutionary Deductions
Sewall Wright
University of Chicago Press, 1977
"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
[more]

front cover of Evolution and the Genetics of Populations, Volume 4
Evolution and the Genetics of Populations, Volume 4
Variability Within and Among Natural Populations
Sewall Wright
University of Chicago Press, 1978
"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
[more]

front cover of First in Fly
First in Fly
Drosophila Research and Biological Discovery
Stephanie Elizabeth Mohr
Harvard University Press, 2018

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.

[more]

logo for Harvard University Press
From Little Science to Big Science
A History of Genetics in the Twentieth Century
Garland E. Allen
Harvard University Press

front cover of The Gene
The Gene
From Genetics to Postgenomics
Hans-Jörg Rheinberger and Staffan Müller-Wille
University of Chicago Press, 2018
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.
 
[more]

front cover of The Genealogical Science
The Genealogical Science
The Search for Jewish Origins and the Politics of Epistemology
Nadia Abu El-Haj
University of Chicago Press, 2012
The Genealogical Science analyzes the scientific work and social implications of the flourishing field of genetic history. A biological discipline that relies on genetic data in order to reconstruct the geographic origins of contemporary populations—their histories of migration and genealogical connections to other present-day groups—this historical science is garnering ever more credibility and social reach, in large part due to a growing industry in ancestry testing. 
 
In this book, Nadia Abu El-Haj examines genetic history’s working assumptions about culture and nature, identity and biology, and the individual and the collective. Through the example of the study of Jewish origins, she explores novel cultural and political practices that are emerging as genetic history’s claims and “facts” circulate in the public domain and illustrates how this historical science is intrinsically entangled with cultural imaginations and political commitments.  Chronicling late-nineteenth- to mid-twentieth-century understandings of race, nature, and culture, she identifies continuities and shifts in scientific claims, institutional contexts, and political worlds in order to show how the meanings of biological difference have changed over time.  In so doing she gives an account of how and why it is that genetic history is so socially felicitous today and elucidates the range of understandings of the self, individual and collective, this scientific field is making possible. More specifically, through her focus on the history of projects of Jewish self-fashioning that have taken place on the terrain of the biological sciences, The Genealogical Science analyzes genetic history as the latest iteration of a cultural and political practice now over a century old. 
[more]

logo for Harvard University Press
Genes, Blood, and Courage
A Boy Called Immortal Sword
David Nathan
Harvard University Press, 1995

David Nathan was stunned when he first saw Dayem Saif at Children's Hospital in Boston in September 1968. Dayem was then a six-year-old with the stature of an average-sized boy of two. He wore baby shoes on his tiny feet and was unable to walk without holding his mother's hand. His color was dark yet pasty and his face horribly misshapen. The child was being ravaged by thalassemia, a life-threatening inherited disease of the blood, and one of the leading causes of disfigurement, disability, and death in children worldwide. Without effective treatment, Dayem would almost certainly die before his twentieth birthday.

Genes, Blood, and Courage is David Nathan's absorbing story of the thirty-year struggle to keep Dayem alive. "Immortal Sword" is the English translation of Dayem's Arabic name, and under Nathan's care Dayem, indeed, seems immortal. Despite his continual reluctance to follow his doctor's orders and the repeated hospitalizations that result, Dayem--the misshapen, stunted boy--survives to become a handsome, successful businessman.

In Genes, Blood, and Courage Nathan goes beyond his struggles with this seemingly immortal patient to describe in detail the emergence, over the past twenty-five years, of an entirely new force in medical care called molecular medicine. As Dayem's case illustrates, this new area of human genetic research--in which Nathan is a leading clinical investigator--promises tremendous advances in the rational diagnosis, prevention, and treatment of inherited disorders, such as thalassemia and sickle cell anemia, and even of acquired illnesses such as cancer and infectious disease.

Genes, Blood, and Courage is a celebration not just of Dayem's triumphs but also of the tremendous accomplishments and potential of the American biomedical research enterprise in the late twentieth century.

[more]

logo for Harvard University Press
Genethics
The Clash between the New Genetics and Human Values
David Suzuki and Peter Knudtson
Harvard University Press, 1990
Genethics is the most lucid and authoritative guide for general readers to modern genetic technology and the myriad ethical issues it raises.
[more]

front cover of Genetic Afterlives
Genetic Afterlives
Black Jewish Indigeneity in South Africa
Noah Tamarkin
Duke University Press, 2020
In 1997, M. E. R. Mathivha, an elder of the black Jewish Lemba people of South Africa, announced to the Lemba Cultural Association that a recent DNA study substantiated their ancestral connections to Jews. Lemba people subsequently leveraged their genetic test results to seek recognition from the post-apartheid government as indigenous Africans with rights to traditional leadership and land, retheorizing genetic ancestry in the process. In Genetic Afterlives, Noah Tamarkin illustrates how Lemba people give their own meanings to the results of DNA tests and employ them to manage competing claims of Jewish ethnic and religious identity, African indigeneity, and South African citizenship. Tamarkin turns away from genetics researchers' results that defined a single story of Lemba peoples' “true” origins and toward Lemba understandings of their own genealogy as multivalent. Guided by Lemba people’s negotiations of their belonging as diasporic Jews, South African citizens, and indigenous Africans, Tamarkin considers new ways to think about belonging that can acknowledge the importance of historical and sacred ties to land without valorizing autochthony, borders, or other technologies of exclusion.
[more]

front cover of The Genetic Gods
The Genetic Gods
Evolution and Belief in Human Affairs
John C. Avise
Harvard University Press, 1998

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.

[more]

logo for University of Chicago Press
Genetic Perspectives in Biology and Medicine
Edward Garber
University of Chicago Press, 1985

front cover of Genetics and the Social Behaviour of the Dog
Genetics and the Social Behaviour of the Dog
John Paul Scott and John L. Fuller
University of Chicago Press, 1974
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.
[more]

front cover of Genetics and the Unsettled Past
Genetics and the Unsettled Past
The Collision of DNA, Race, and History
Wailoo, Keith
Rutgers University Press, 2012

Our genetic markers have come to be regarded as portals to the past. Analysis of these markers is increasingly used to tell the story of human migration; to investigate and judge issues of social membership and kinship; to rewrite history and collective memory; to right past wrongs and to arbitrate legal claims and human rights controversies; and to open new thinking about health and well-being. At the same time, in many societies genetic evidence is being called upon to perform a kind of racially charged cultural work: to repair the racial past and to transform scholarly and popular opinion about the “nature” of identity in the present.

Genetics and the Unsettled Past considers the alignment of genetic science with commercial genealogy, with legal and forensic developments, and with pharmaceutical innovation to examine how these trends lend renewed authority to biological understandings of race and history.

This unique collection brings together scholars from a wide range of disciplines—biology, history, cultural studies, law, medicine, anthropology, ethnic studies, sociology—to explore the emerging and often contested connections among race, DNA, and history. Written for a general audience, the book’s essays touch upon a variety of topics, including the rise and implications of DNA in genealogy, law, and other fields; the cultural and political uses and misuses of genetic information; the way in which DNA testing is reshaping understandings of group identity for French Canadians, Native Americans, South Africans, and many others within and across cultural and national boundaries; and the sweeping implications of genetics for society today.

[more]

front cover of Genetics, Disability, and Deafness
Genetics, Disability, and Deafness
John Vickrey Van Cleve
Gallaudet University Press, 2004

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.

[more]

logo for Harvard University Press
Genetics, Law, and Social Policy
Philip Reilly
Harvard University Press, 1977

logo for Harvard University Press
A Guinea Pig’s History of Biology
Jim Endersby
Harvard University Press, 2007

"Endless forms most beautiful and most wonderful have been, and are being, evolved," Darwin famously concluded The Origin of Species, and for confirmation we look to...the guinea pig? How this curious creature and others as humble (and as fast-breeding) have helped unlock the mystery of inheritance is the unlikely story Jim Endersby tells in this book.

Biology today promises everything from better foods or cures for common diseases to the alarming prospect of redesigning life itself. Looking at the organisms that have made all this possible gives us a new way of understanding how we got here--and perhaps of thinking about where we're going. Instead of a history of which great scientists had which great ideas, this story of passionflowers and hawkweeds, of zebra fish and viruses, offers a bird's (or rodent's) eye view of the work that makes science possible.

Mixing the celebrities of genetics, like the fruit fly, with forgotten players such as the evening primrose, the book follows the unfolding history of biological inheritance from Aristotle's search for the "universal, absolute truth of fishiness" to the apparently absurd speculations of eighteenth-century natural philosophers to the spectacular findings of our day--which may prove to be the absurdities of tomorrow.

The result is a quirky, enlightening, and thoroughly engaging perspective on the history of heredity and genetics, tracing the slow, uncertain path--complete with entertaining diversions and dead ends--that led us from the ancient world's understanding of inheritance to modern genetics.

[more]

front cover of Heredity and Hope
Heredity and Hope
The Case for Genetic Screening
Ruth Schwartz Cowan
Harvard University Press, 2008

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.

[more]

front cover of In Pursuit of the Gene
In Pursuit of the Gene
From Darwin to DNA
James Schwartz
Harvard University Press, 2008

The mystery of inheritance has captivated thinkers since antiquity, and the unlocking of this mystery—the development of classical genetics—is one of humanity’s greatest achievements. This great scientific and human drama is the story told fully and for the first time in this book.

Acclaimed science writer James Schwartz presents the history of genetics through the eyes of a dozen or so central players, beginning with Charles Darwin and ending with Nobel laureate Hermann J. Muller. In tracing the emerging idea of the gene, Schwartz deconstructs many often-told stories that were meant to reflect glory on the participants and finds that the “official” version of discovery often hides a far more complex and illuminating narrative. The discovery of the structure of DNA and the more recent advances in genome science represent the culmination of one hundred years of concentrated inquiry into the nature of the gene. Schwartz’s multifaceted training as a mathematician, geneticist, and writer enables him to provide a remarkably lucid account of the development of the central ideas about heredity, and at the same time bring to life the brilliant and often eccentric individuals who shaped these ideas.

In the spirit of the late Stephen Jay Gould, this book offers a thoroughly engaging story about one of the oldest and most controversial fields of scientific inquiry. It offers readers the background they need to understand the latest findings in genetics and those still to come in the search for the genetic basis of complex diseases and traits.

[more]

logo for Harvard University Press
In the Name of Eugenics
Genetics and the Uses of Human Heredity
Daniel Kevles
Harvard University Press, 1995
Daniel Kevles traces the study and practice of eugenics--the science of "improving" the human species by exploiting theories of heredity--from its inception in the late nineteenth century to its most recent manifestation within the field of genetic engineering. It is rich in narrative, anecdote, attention to human detail, and stories of competition among scientists who have dominated the field.
[more]

front cover of The Language of Genetics
The Language of Genetics
An Introduction
Denis R. Alexander
Templeton Press, 2011

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
in genetics.

[more]

front cover of Mammalian Dispersal Patterns
Mammalian Dispersal Patterns
The Effects of Social Structure on Population Genetics
Edited by B. Diane Chepko-Sade and Zuleyma Tang Halpin
University of Chicago Press, 1987
Mammalian Dispersal Patterns examines the ways that social structure affects population genetics and, in turn, rates of evolution, in mammalian groups. It brings together fieldwork in animal behavior and wildlife biology with theoretical work in demography and population genetics. The focus here is dispersal—whether, how, and when individuals leave the areas where they are born.

Theoretical work in population genetics indicates that such social factors as skewed sex ratios, restrictive mating patterns, and delayed age of first reproduction will lower the reproductive variability of a population by reducing the number of genotypes passed from one generation to the next. Field studies have shown that many mammalian species do exhibit many such social characteristics. Among horses, elephant seals, and a number of primates, the majority of females are inseminated by only a fraction of the males. In pacts of wolves and mongooses, usually only the highest-ranking male and female breed in a given season. Although socially restricted mating tends to lower genetic variability in isolated populations, it actually tends to increase genetic variability in subdivided populations with low rates of migration between subunits. Among some species there is little dispersal and thus little gene flow between subpopulations; other species travel far afield before mating.

The contributors to this volume examine actual data from populations of mammals, the way patterns of dispersal correlate with the genetic structure of individuals and populations, and mathematical models of population structure. This interdisciplinary approach has an important bearing on work in conservation of both wildlife and zoo populations, for it shows that the home range and the population size needed to maintain genetic variability can differ greatly from one species to the next. The volume also offers a fruitful model for future research.
[more]

front cover of Mapping
Mapping "Race"
Critical Approaches to Health Disparities Research
Gómez, Laura E
Rutgers University Press, 2013
Researchers commonly ask subjects to self-identify their race from a menu of preestablished options. Yet if race is a multidimensional, multilevel social construction, this has profound methodological implications for the sciences and social sciences. Race must inform how we design large-scale data collection and how scientists utilize race in the context of specific research questions. This landmark collection argues for the recognition of those implications for research and suggests ways in which they may be integrated into future scientific endeavors. It concludes on a prescriptive note, providing an arsenal of multidisciplinary, conceptual, and methodological tools for studying race specifically within the context of health inequalities.

Contributors: John A. Garcia, Arline T. Geronimus, Laura E. Gómez, Joseph L. Graves Jr., Janet E. Helms, Derek Kenji Iwamoto, Jonathan Kahn, Jay S. Kaufman, Mai M. Kindaichi, Simon J. Craddock Lee, Nancy López, Ethan H. Mereish, Matthew Miller, Gabriel R. Sanchez, Aliya Saperstein, R. Burciaga Valdez, Vicki D. Ybarra


[more]

front cover of Maternal Effects in Mammals
Maternal Effects in Mammals
Edited by Dario Maestripieri and Jill M. Mateo
University of Chicago Press, 2009

Evolutionary maternal effects occur whenever a mother’s phenotypic traits directly affect her offspring’s phenotype, independent of the offspring’s genotype. Some of the phenotypic traits that result in maternal effects have a genetic basis, whereas others are environmentally determined. For example, the size of a litter produced by a mammalian mother—a trait with a strong genetic basis—can affect the growth rate of her offspring, while a mother’s dominance rank—an environmentally determined trait—can affect the dominance rank of her offspring.

            The first volume published on the subject in more than a decade, Maternal Effects in Mammals reflects advances in genomic, ecological, and behavioral research, as well new understandings of the evolutionary interplay between mothers and their offspring. Dario Maestripieri and Jill M. Mateo bring together a learned group of contributors to synthesize the vast literature on a range of species, highlight evolutionary processes that were previously overlooked, and propose new avenues of research. Maternal Effects in Mammals will serve as the most comprehensive compendium on and stimulus for interdisciplinary treatments of mammalian maternal effects.

[more]

front cover of Mobilizing Mutations
Mobilizing Mutations
Human Genetics in the Age of Patient Advocacy
Daniel Navon
University of Chicago Press, 2019
With every passing year, more and more people learn that they or their young or unborn child carries a genetic mutation. But what does this mean for the way we understand a person? Today, genetic mutations are being used to diagnose novel conditions like the XYY, Fragile X, NGLY1 mutation, and 22q11.2 Deletion syndromes, carving out rich new categories of human disease and difference. Daniel Navon calls this form of categorization “genomic designation,” and in Mobilizing Mutations he shows how mutations, and the social factors that surround them, are reshaping human classification.
 
Drawing on a wealth of fieldwork and historical material, Navon presents a sociological account of the ways genetic mutations have been mobilized and transformed in the sixty years since it became possible to see abnormal human genomes, providing a new vista onto the myriad ways contemporary genetic testing can transform people’s lives.
 
Taking us inside these shifting worlds of research and advocacy over the last half century, Navon reveals the ways in which knowledge about genetic mutations can redefine what it means to be ill, different, and ultimately, human.
 
[more]

front cover of Model Behavior
Model Behavior
Animal Experiments, Complexity, and the Genetics of Psychiatric Disorders
Nicole C. Nelson
University of Chicago Press, 2018
Mice are used as model organisms across a wide range of fields in science today—but it is far from obvious how studying a mouse in a maze can help us understand human problems like alcoholism or anxiety. How do scientists convince funders, fellow scientists, the general public, and even themselves that animal experiments are a good way of producing knowledge about the genetics of human behavior? In Model Behavior, Nicole C. Nelson takes us inside an animal behavior genetics laboratory to examine how scientists create and manage the foundational knowledge of their field.

Behavior genetics is a particularly challenging field for making a clear-cut case that mouse experiments work, because researchers believe that both the phenomena they are studying and the animal models they are using are complex. These assumptions of complexity change the nature of what laboratory work produces. Whereas historical and ethnographic studies traditionally portray the laboratory as a place where scientists control, simplify, and stabilize nature in the service of producing durable facts, the laboratory that emerges from Nelson’s extensive interviews and fieldwork is a place where stable findings are always just out of reach. The ongoing work of managing precarious experimental systems means that researchers learn as much—if not more—about the impact of the environment on behavior as they do about genetics. Model Behavior offers a compelling portrait of life in a twenty-first-century laboratory, where partial, provisional answers to complex scientific questions are increasingly the norm.
[more]

front cover of Ordinary Genomes
Ordinary Genomes
Science, Citizenship, and Genetic Identities
Karen-Sue Taussig
Duke University Press, 2009
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.
[more]

front cover of Ordinary Medicine
Ordinary Medicine
Extraordinary Treatments, Longer Lives, and Where to Draw the Line
Sharon R. Kaufman
Duke University Press, 2015
Most of us want and expect medicine’s miracles to extend our lives. In today’s aging society, however, the line between life-giving therapies and too much treatment is hard to see—it’s being obscured by a perfect storm created by the pharmaceutical and biomedical industries, along with insurance companies. In Ordinary Medicine Sharon R. Kaufman investigates what drives that storm’s “more is better” approach to medicine: a nearly invisible chain of social, economic, and bureaucratic forces that has made once-extraordinary treatments seem ordinary, necessary, and desirable. Since 2002 Kaufman has listened to hundreds of older patients, their physicians and family members express their hopes, fears, and reasoning as they faced the line between enough and too much intervention. Their stories anchor Ordinary Medicine. Today’s medicine, Kaufman contends, shapes nearly every American’s experience of growing older, and ultimately medicine is undermining its own ability to function as a social good. Kaufman’s careful mapping of the sources of our health care dilemmas should make it far easier to rethink and renew medicine’s goals.
[more]

front cover of Paternity
Paternity
The Elusive Quest for the Father
Nara B. Milanich
Harvard University Press, 2019

“In this rigorous and beautifully researched volume, Milanich considers the tension between social and biological definitions of fatherhood, and shows how much we still have to learn about what constitutes a father.”
—Andrew Solomon, author of Far from the Tree: Parents, Children, and the Search for Identity


For most of human history, the notion that paternity was uncertain appeared to be an immutable law of nature. The unknown father provided entertaining plotlines from Shakespeare to the Victorian novelists and lay at the heart of inheritance and child support disputes. But in the 1920s new scientific advances promised to solve the mystery of paternity once and for all. The stakes were high: fatherhood has always been a public relationship as well as a private one. It confers not only patrimony and legitimacy but also a name, nationality, and identity.

The new science of paternity, with methods such as blood typing, fingerprinting, and facial analysis, would bring clarity to the conundrum of fatherhood—or so it appeared. Suddenly, it would be possible to establish family relationships, expose adulterous affairs, locate errant fathers, unravel baby mix-ups, and discover one’s true race and ethnicity. Tracing the scientific quest for the father up to the present, with the advent of seemingly foolproof DNA analysis, Nara Milanich shows that the effort to establish biological truth has not ended the quest for the father. Rather, scientific certainty has revealed the fundamentally social, cultural, and political nature of paternity. As Paternity shows, in the age of modern genetics the answer to the question “Who’s your father?” remains as complicated as ever.

[more]

logo for Harvard University Press
Patterns of Human Variation
The Demography, Genetics, and Phenetics of Bougainville Islanders
Jonathan S. Friedlaender
Harvard University Press, 1975

This uniquely comprehensive study analyzes genetic and cultural variation in a human population of extraordinary diversity. The author measures the relationship between patterns of biological and patterns of cultural variation as a way to test the contribution made by natural selection to genetic variability. If linguistic similarity and migration history serve to predict biological patterns, support is provided for the hypothesis that forces other than natural selection are responsible for the diversity observed.

The data for this study come from a group of eighteen villages located in eight neighboring language areas that are clustered in a small region of Bougainville Island, Papua New Guinea. Biological and anthropological data are analyzed with a battery of sophisticated statistical and taxonomic methods: multiple discriminant analyses, principal coordinates analyses, principal components analyses, and Gower's R2 comparison. Diverse biological properties of the Bougainville Islanders prove to be closely related to their patterns of migration. Although this result in no way refutes the role of natural selection in the evolutionary process, it highlights the extent to which genetic diversity can be molded, at least in human populations, by nonselective events.

[more]

front cover of The Poetics of DNA
The Poetics of DNA
Judith Roof
University of Minnesota Press, 2007

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.

[more]

front cover of Radium and the Secret of Life
Radium and the Secret of Life
Luis A. Campos
University of Chicago Press, 2015
Before the hydrogen bomb indelibly associated radioactivity with death, many chemists, physicians, botanists, and geneticists believed that radium might hold the secret to life. Physicists and chemists early on described the wondrous new element in lifelike terms such as “decay” and “half-life,” and made frequent references to the “natural selection” and “evolution” of the elements. Meanwhile, biologists of the period used radium in experiments aimed at elucidating some of the most basic phenomena of life, including metabolism and mutation.

From the creation of half-living microbes in the test tube to charting the earliest histories of genetic engineering, Radium and the Secret of Life highlights previously unknown interconnections between the history of the early radioactive sciences and the sciences of heredity. Equating the transmutation of radium with the biological transmutation of living species, biologists saw in metabolism and mutation properties that reminded them of the new element. These initially provocative metaphoric links between radium and life proved remarkably productive and ultimately led to key biological insights into the origin of life, the nature of heredity, and the structure of the gene. Radium and the Secret of Life recovers a forgotten history of the connections between radioactivity and the life sciences that existed long before the dawn of molecular biology.
[more]

front cover of Risks in the Making
Risks in the Making
Travels in Life Insurance and Genetics
Ine Van Hoyweghen
Amsterdam University Press, 2006
In recent decades, insurance companies, scientists, and public officials have debated the potential use of genetic testing in insurance decisions. With Risks in the Making, Ine van Hoyweghen alters the terms of the debate, moving it from abstract, theoretical grounds to the question of how insurance companies actually work. Through an empirical ethnographic study of life insurance in Belgium, van Hoyweghen reveals fascinating and important details about insurance practices and risk management, underscoring the diversity of insurance markets, underwriting practices, and strategies.
[more]

front cover of Saving Babies?
Saving Babies?
The Consequences of Newborn Genetic Screening
Stefan Timmermans and Mara Buchbinder
University of Chicago Press, 2012
It has been close to six decades since Watson and Crick discovered the structure of DNA and more than ten years since the human genome was decoded. Today, through the collection and analysis of a small blood sample, every baby born in the United States is screened for more than fifty genetic disorders. Though the early detection of these abnormalities can potentially save lives, the test also has a high percentage of false positives—inaccurate results that can take a brutal emotional toll on parents before they are corrected. Now some doctors are questioning whether the benefits of these screenings outweigh the stress and pain they sometimes produce. In Saving Babies?, Stefan Timmermans and Mara Buchbinder evaluate the consequences and benefits of state-mandated newborn screening—and the larger policy questions they raise about the inherent inequalities in American medical care that limit the effectiveness of this potentially lifesaving technology.
 
Drawing on observations and interviews with families, doctors, and policy actors, Timmermans and Buchbinder have given us the first ethnographic study of how parents and geneticists resolve the many uncertainties in screening newborns. Ideal for scholars of medicine, public health, and public policy, this book is destined to become a classic in its field.
[more]

front cover of Sewall Wright and Evolutionary Biology
Sewall Wright and Evolutionary Biology
William B. Provine
University of Chicago Press, 1986
"Provine's thorough and thoroughly admirable examination of Wright's life and influence, which is accompanied by a very useful collection of Wright's papers on evolution, is the best we have for any recent figure in evolutionary biology."—Joe Felsenstein, Nature

"In Sewall Wright and Evolutionary Biology . . . Provine has produced an intellectual biography which serves to chart in considerable detail both the life and work of one man and the history of evolutionary theory in the middle half of this century. Provine is admirably suited to his task. . . . The resulting book is clearly a labour of love which will be of great interest to those who have a mature interest in the history of evolutionary theory."-John Durant, ;ITimes Higher Education Supplement;X
[more]

front cover of Shattering
Shattering
Food, Politics, and the Loss of Genetic Diversity
Cary Fowler and Pat Mooney
University of Arizona Press, 1990
It was through control of the shattering of wild seeds that humans first domesticated plants. Now control over those very plants threatens to shatter the world's food supply, as loss of genetic diversity sets the stage for widespread hunger.

Large-scale agriculture has come to favor uniformity in food crops. More than 7,000 U.S. apple varieties once grew in American orchards; 6,000 of them are no longer available. Every broccoli variety offered through seed catalogs in 1900 has now disappeared. As the international genetics supply industry absorbs seed companies—with nearly one thousand takeovers since 1970—this trend toward uniformity seems likely to continue; and as third world agriculture is brought in line with international business interests, the gene pools of humanity's most basic foods are threatened.

The consequences are more than culinary. Without the genetic diversity from which farmers traditionally breed for resistance to diseases, crops are more susceptible to the spread of pestilence. Tragedies like the Irish Potato Famine may be thought of today as ancient history; yet the U.S. corn blight of 1970 shows that technologically based agribusiness is a breeding ground for disaster.

Shattering reviews the development of genetic diversity over 10,000 years of human agriculture, then exposes its loss in our lifetime at the hands of political and economic forces. The possibility of crisis is real; this book shows that it may not be too late to avert it.
[more]

front cover of The Society of Genes
The Society of Genes
Itai Yanai and Martin Lercher
Harvard University Press, 2016

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.

[more]

front cover of Styles of Scientific Thought
Styles of Scientific Thought
The German Genetics Community, 1900-1933
Jonathan Harwood
University of Chicago Press, 1992
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.
[more]

front cover of What Are Stem Cells?
What Are Stem Cells?
Definitions at the Intersection of Science and Politics
John Lynch
University of Alabama Press, 2011
Normal0falsefalsefalseEN-USX-NONEX-NONEMicrosoftInternetExplorer4
In recent years political, religious, and scientific communities have engaged in an ethical debate regarding the development of and research on embryonic stem cells. Does the manipulation of embryonic stem cells destroy human life? Or do limitations imposed on stem cell research harm patients who might otherwise benefit?
 
John Lynch’s What Are Stem Cells? identifies the moral stalemate between the rights of the embryo and the rights of the patient and uses it as the framework for a larger discussion about the role of definitions as a key rhetorical strategy in the debate. In the case of stem cells, the controversy arises from the manner in which stem cells are defined--in particular, whether they are defined with an appeal to their original source or to their future application. Definitions such as these, Lynch argues, are far more than convenient expository references; they determine the realities of any given social discourse.
 
Lynch addresses definitions conceptually--their stability in the face of continual technological innovation, their versatility at the crossroads of scientific and public forums, and their translations and retranslations through politics. Most importantly, his work recognizes definitions as central to issues, not only within the topic of stem cell research, but also in all argumentation.
[more]


Send via email Share on Facebook Share on Twitter