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Glenn Nichols, surrounded by his hospice team. The author is in yellow.

Genetic Linkage

The Crime Gene Revisited

January 27, 2012

Tags: XYY, crime gene, Patricia Jacobs, GWAS, Ricki Lewis, congenital criminals, genetic determinism, National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health, human genome project, Law and Order, twin study, heritability, Jeffrey Dahmer, Back to the Future, Marty McFly

"Research shows genes influence criminal behavior," proclaims a January 25 news release, setting my genetic determinism detector on high alert.

I flashed back to the cover of the May 18, 1970 Newsweek, “Congenital Criminals?” which probed the work of Patricia Jacobs. Here’s what my human genetics textbook says on the study provoking the 1970 headline: (more…)

A Textbook Author’s View of “5-Minute Publishing”

January 21, 2012

Tags: iBooks Author, Apple, iPad, McGraw-Hill Higher Education, Life, The Forever Fix: Gene Therapy and the Boy Who Saved It, Ricki Lewis, St. Martin's Press, 5-minute textbook, on-demand publishing, textbooks, Washington Post

It takes a village to produce a textbook.
iBooks Author “will let anyone make their own interactive textbook, in like 5 minutes flat,” according to several reports on Apple’s January 19 announcement. Then why did my first college textbook, Life, take 10 years?

It’s simple: researching, writing, editing, and publishing (more…)

Should Gene Doping Studies Be Published?

January 18, 2012

Tags: gene doping, IGF-1, human growth hormone, transgenic mouse, gene therapy, muscles, performance enhancing drugs, mouse experiment, animal model, EPO, erythropoietin, human growth hormone, insulin-like growth factor, adeno-associated virus Ricki Lewis, H15N1 flu, Human Gene Therapy

In late 2011, creation of a lab strain of of H5N1 influenza capable of spreading easily among ferrets, and presumably us, sparked heated debate about whether and when to publish scientific research that could do harm. The same could be said for gene doping.

(more…)

Ricki’s Rant: Genome Sequence, NOT Genetic Code

January 11, 2012

Tags: genetic code, human genetics, human genome sequence, human genome project, Ricki Lewis, Morse code, computer code, Wall Street Journal, National Geographic, insulin, X-Files, model organisms, drug discovery, recombinant DNA, viruses

Strawberries can use a gene from peanuts to withstand frost because the genetic code is universal.
Humans do not have their own genetic code, and certainly each of us does not have his or her own. The idea of our utter uniqueness might be attractive, but genetics just doesn’t work that way. And it’s a good thing.

The genetic code is the correspondence between a unit of DNA (more…)

Non-PC Genetics Lingo

January 10, 2012

Tags: human genetics, Ricki Lewis, orphan disease, Orphan Drug Act, National Organization for Rare Diseases, European Organization for Rare Diseases, rare disease, race, people of color, mixed ancestry, NORD, Encyclopedia of Race and Racism, Sheila van Holst Pellekaan, HGDP, Human Genome Diversity Project, aborigine, Joseph Graves

We are all people of color, except the Invisible Man and Woman.
I struggle to stay politically correct when updating my human genetics textbook. “Hemophiliac” became “person with hemophilia” and “victim” vanished several editions ago. In the current incarnation, “mentally retarded” became “intellectually disabled” after colleagues warned that (more…)

Gene Therapy and the 10,000-Hour Rule

January 4, 2012

Tags: Gene therapy, The Forever Fix: Gene Therapy and the Boy Who Saved It, Malcolm Gladwell, 10, 000-hour rule, Ashi DeSilva, Biology Digest, William French Anderson, Donald Kohn, ADA deficiency, Leber congenital amaurosis, Kalydeco, ivacaftor, Vertex Pharmaceuticals, cystic fibrosis, severe combined immune deficiency, Ricki Lewis, Corey Haas, Jesse Gelsinger

“Breakthroughs” in biomedicine are rarely that – they typically rest on a decade or more of experiments. Consider gene therapy.

I just unearthed an article from the December 1990 issue of Biology Digest, "Gene Therapy." I wrote it a mere two months after the very first gene therapy experiment, the much-publicized case of 4-year-old Ashi DeSilva, (more…)

instruction
Project to engage students in helping families with rare genetic diseases
Book Club Reader's Guide
Many challenging questions to stimulate thought and discussion.
Instructor's Guide
38 discussion questions to get students thinking and talking about gene therapy, including the science, ethical issues, and the drug approval process.
Narrative science
The Forever Fix is the uplifting true story of 8-year-old Corey Haas, who was cured of hereditary blindness just 4 days after gene therapy.
College Textbooks
A spectacularly-illustrated, clearly written human anatomy and physiology textbook, used in pre-health profession programs throughout the U.S.
A highly engaging, clearly written, beautifully illustrated introduction to the science of human genetics for the non-scientist. Now in its 11th edition, 12th to be published in September 2018.
Nonfiction
An ideal starting point for anyone who wants to know more about genes, DNA, genomes, and the genetic ties that bind us all.

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