Navigation Links
Reflecting on the social implications of human genetics research -- past, present and future

COLD SPRING HARBOR, N.Y. In 1911, the influential geneticist Charles Davenport published Heredity in Relation to Eugenics, advancing his ideas of how genetics would improve society in the 20th century. It became a college textbook and a foundation for the widespread eugenics movement in the United States. Although the eugenic ideals of the early part of the 20th century have long been rejected, many of the issues raised by Davenport are still being debated nearly 100 years later.

In a new book, Davenports Dream: 21st Century Reflections on Heredity and Eugenics, 12 prominent academics discuss themes from Davenports bookthe meaning of human genetic variation, the sources of mental illness, the influence of nature versus nurture, the processes of human evolutionin a contemporary context. His original book, which was one of the first to summarize the field of human genetics in the post-Mendel era, is reprinted along with the essays.

[T]he problems that [Davenport and his contemporaries] sought to ameliorate and the moral and ethical choices highlighted by the eugenics movement remain a source of public interest and cautious scientific inquiry, fueled in recent years by the sequencing of the human genome and consequent revitalization of human genetics, write the editors Jan Witkowski and John Inglis in the Preface to the book. These thoughtful essays show very clearly that as science reveals ever more about essential aspects of human nature, we will be faced with real ethical, legal, and moral dilemmas.

Davenports dream of using genetics to improve the human condition has taken new guises in the 21st century. Today, it is argued, eugenics is back but in individual, not state-sponsored form, writes Matt Ridley in the Foreword to the book. People can choose the sex of their child, or choose to abort a fetus with a certain disability, or select an embryo without a detected defect or disability.

The essays by the academics remind us of what we learned from our past mistakes and urge us to carefully and cautiously use scientific discoveries for the benefit of humankind. This book will be useful to historians of science as well as those interested in the social implications of human genetics researchpast, present, and future.


Contact: Ingrid Benirschke
Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory

Related biology news :

1. Research uncovers the social dynamics of yellow jackets
2. Genes and environment interact in first graders to predict physical but not social aggression
3. Effects of social isolation traced to brain hormone
4. Social standing influences elephant movement
5. Social stress + darkness = increased anxiety
6. Carnegie Mellon, Pitt Team to study psychosocial stress
7. NHGRI funds new Centers for Excellence in Ethical, Legal and Social Implications Research
8. 454 Sequencing uncovers a genetic basis for different social behaviors in wasp
9. Social parasites of the smaller kind
10. Social habits of cells may hold key to fighting diseases
11. Multiple species of bacteria may cause trachoma: Implications for treatment
Post Your Comments:
Related Image:
Reflecting on the social implications of human genetics research -- past, present and future
(Date:11/17/2015)... 17, 2015  Vigilant Solutions announces today that Mr. ... of Directors. --> --> ... from the partnership at TPG Capital, one of the ... $140 Billion in revenue.  He founded and led TPG,s ... TPG companies, from 1997 to 2013.  In his first ...
(Date:11/12/2015)...   Growing need for low-cost, easy to ... paving the way for use of biochemical sensors ... in clinical, agricultural, environmental, food and defense applications. ... medical applications, however, their adoption is increasing in ... emphasis on improving product quality and growing need ...
(Date:11/9/2015)... JOSE, Calif. , Nov. 9, 2015  Synaptics ... human interface solutions, today announced broader entry into the ... vehicle-specific solutions that match the pace of consumer electronics ... and biometric sensors are ideal for the automotive industry ... vehicle. Europe , ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:11/24/2015)... , Nov. 24, 2015  Twist Bioscience, a ... Emily Leproust, Ph.D., Twist Bioscience chief executive officer, ... Conference on December 1, 2015 at 3:10 p.m. ... York City. --> ... . Twist Bioscience is on Twitter. Sign up ...
(Date:11/24/2015)... , Nov. 24, 2015 Capricor Therapeutics, ... focused on the discovery, development and commercialization of first-in-class ... Chief Executive Officer, is scheduled to present at the ... at 10:50 a.m. EST, at The Lotte New York ... . . --> ...
(Date:11/24/2015)... NEW YORK , Nov. 24, 2015 According ... today than in 2005. This is something that many doctors, ... long time. One questions remains: with fewer PSA tests being ... cancer ? Dr. David Samadi, "Despite ... cancer, the disease remains the second leading cancer cause of ...
(Date:11/23/2015)... , ... November 23, 2015 , ... Noblis, Inc., a ... former Director, Plans and Programs, National Geospatial Intelligence Agency (NGA), has joined the Noblis ... an incredibly distinguished career in the intelligence community and the private sector,” said ...
Breaking Biology Technology: