Meeting June 7, 2017

Genetics and Society in the news:

  • Kobuzek. Boston Globe, Ideas Section, June 4. “Fixing genes won’t fix us” A strong critique of using Crispr to alter human DNA.
  • Brian Donovan (BSCS) who has done research on the impact of teaching genetics either to fortify racist essentialist idea or to counter them. He proposes that we put together a session for the AAAS annual meeting combining his work with our dialogues. (We looked it up and noted that it is too late to apply for 2018, so we could consider it for 2019.)
  • Nature Methods K. Schaefer et al. “Unexpected mutations after CRISPr-Cas9 editing in vivo.” They claim to find large numbers of single base changes after CRISPr use. There is going to be a rebuttal article in Nature Methods.
  • Eric Lander spoke publicly about the granting of the Broad’s patent for use of CRISPr technology to those interested who would not do human germ line engineering and some gene drive proposals.
  • Publish Houses of Brick not Mansions of Straw“. W. Kaelin says “Papers need to include fewer claims and more proof to make the scientific literature more reliable” Nature May 23, 2017.
  • New York Times. Homo sapiens fossils 300.000 years old. Oldest fossils (from Morocco) require reassessment of origins of H. sapiens.
  • Technology review article on 23andMe seeking genetic explanations for differences in pain responses. Using GWAS

Article for discussion:

Discussion points:

  • The article raises questions about whether it is possible to find a gene mutation or set of mutations that will provide understanding of schizophrenia. Environment is also important.
  • This article points out that twin studies provided incentive of this work, but his coverage of twin studies is very confused where he alternatives between saying that twin studies suggest strong genetic contribution and saying that twin studies don’t allow one to deduce anything about strength. He seems to get tongue-twised when he tries to point out that twin studies yield information of variation.
  • He also goes back and forth on equal environment assumption. We still need a good popular article on the problem with twin studies.


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