How humans evolved a super-high cooling capacity

The higher density of sweat glands in humans is due, to a great extent, to accumulated changes in a regulatory region of DNA that drives the expression of a sweat gland-building gene, explaining why humans are the sweatiest of the Great Apes.

From Penn Medicine News

In the News

Does a pie chart change who you are?

Wendy Roth of the School of Arts & Sciences conducted a study that found that people who take consumer DNA tests interpret the results differently according to their existing knowledge of genetics. “The way people interpret scientific evidence is not neutral,” she said.


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.”


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.



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.


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.


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.”