To begin at the beginning, the IJE has reprinted Conrad Waddington's seminal paper, which is brought up-to-date by commentaries from experts currently at the cutting edge of the field. This is followed by a series of papers on epigenetics that reflect the breadth and depth of current epidemiological contributions, ranging from studies of socio-economic differences in epigenetic patterns to new methods to determine the causal contribution of epigenetic processes. These empirical contributions are complimented by a stimulating and accessible commentary on the relationship between epidemiology and epigenetics by Bastiaan Heijmans and Jonathon Mill.
Further reflection is provided by a symposium based on a short book 'Plasticity, Robustness, Development and Evolution' by Patrick Bateson and Peter Gluckman, which covers the most recent developments at the intersection of developmental and evolutionary biology. A prcis of the book, written by the authors, starts a debate that presents arguments in favour of the wider incorporation of epigenetics into epidemiology as well as cautioning against the dismissal of the genetic heritability in the rush to adopt new methods.
This epigenetics issue is edited by Caroline Relton and George Davey Smith. Caroline, from the Institute of Genetic Medicine at Newcastle University whose research focuses on understanding the effect of epigenetic variation on health, says "Epigenetics has begun to permeate many aspects of medical research, as well as many corners of the popular press, in a bid to explain how the environment and genome act in concert to shape the biological processes that cause disease. Epidemiology a discipline that aims to improve our understanding of the determinants of disease - has much to offer the field of epigenetics, not least in helping to distinguish those epigenetic events that are on the causal pathway to disease from those that are not. This info
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