Genetics

Parasites and the microbiome

In a study of ethnically diverse people from Cameroon, the presence of a parasite infection was closely linked to the make-up of the gastrointestinal microbiome, according to a research team led by Penn scientists.

Katherine Unger Baillie

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



In the News


Slate.com

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.

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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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