Genetics

How our ‘birth environment’ can influence our health

Mary Regina Boland studies how one’s “birth environment,” or the factors that a mother experienced while pregnant, affects health risks later in life, and what can actually be predicted while still in the womb.

Penn Today Staff

Reprogramming ant ‘soldiers’

A Penn study reveals the epigenetic pathway that controls social behavior in carpenter ants, finding that the ants reprogram up to five days after they hatch, while reprogramming was ineffective at the 10-day mark.

Penn Today Staff



In the News


Forward.com

How genetics paint a picture of the Jewish past

Steven Weitzman of the School of Arts and Sciences commented on efforts to study Jewish genetics. While the research is “fascinating,” he acknowledges that it may make some uncomfortable. “There’s a lot of resistance to [genetic research] within the field of Jewish studies,” Weitzman said. “A lot of people remember or have in mind the role of race science in Nazism. So the idea that Jewish scholars would look in any way to genetics to understand Jewish identity or Jewish history and origins can make people concerned.”

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Huffington Post

A DNA test revealed this man is 4% black. Now he wants to abolish affirmative action

Wendy Roth of the School of Arts and Sciences spoke about DNA testing and its intersection with culture and identity. “Right now I don’t think that [companies selling at-home genealogy kits] are generally doing a good enough job of explaining how these tests should be interpreted and what the limitations are and what some potential negative impacts could be,” she said.

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Science

As gene testing surges, lawsuits aren’t far behind

Reed Pyeritz of the Perelman School of Medicine co-published a policy statement suggesting that doctors do their best to recontact patients if the interpretation of a genetic test’s results evolves over time.

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PBS NewsHour

Genetic research has a white bias, and it may be hurting everyone’s health

PIK Professor Sarah Tishkoff and Giorgio Sirugo of the Perelman School of Medicine collaborated on a paper that concluded that predominately European genetic databases may lead to difficulties treating people from other racial backgrounds. “If we don’t include ethnically diverse populations, we are potentially going to be exacerbating health inequalities,” said Tishkoff.

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Wired.co.uk

Genetic research is the wrong way to make sense of ADHD

Jason Schnittker of the School of Arts and Sciences said that linking mental illness to genetics won’t do much to reduce stigma. Instead, he proposed, “it would help to show that mental illnesses are common, even if they’re not diagnosed, and while they can be severe, they can be managed effectively.”

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The New York Times

An H.I.V. cure: Answers to 4 key questions

HIV research coming out of Penn suggests that stem cell infusions may be an effective treatment for the disease.

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