What do your genes say about you?

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Genetics refers to the subset in biology which studies traits, heredity, and variability in living organisms. A field within the realm of genetics is behavior genetics which attempts to draw a correlation between an organism's genetics and its behavior. In class we learned about a one of the first scientists involved in behavioral genetics - Sir Francis Galton cousin of evolution theorist Charles Darwin. Galton studied the heritability of human ability, and pioneered the field of eugenics - the study of hereditary improvement of the human race by controlled selective breeding. While eugenics has been classified and used for negatively (racial cleansing and extermination), research in the late 20th century and continuing into the 21st century have shown ways that it can be utilized for good - such as testing a mother and father for genetically dormant diseases that could be passed on to future offspring, thus reducing the likelihood of diseases such as Tay-Sachs and Cystic Fibrosis. While genetics can be used to test for the likelihood of certain diseases the application of using certain base pairs to account for a person's behavior can have immense pros and cons. On one side if it is found that certain genes are directly linked to certain behaviors (depression, anxiety, exc) parents and doctors can begin to look for signs earlier, however a negative of this linkage would be discrimination whether in the workforce or in general if made publically. While it varies by state currently in Minnesota it is illegal for an employer to request or require an information genetic test, or firing/hiring based on genetics (NCSL). In my opinion this type of legislation is required in order to ensure that discrimination doesn't happen as it becomes cheaper and more available to sequence a person's genome.


"Francis Galton." Britannica Concise Encyclopedia. Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc., 1994-2010. Answers.com 22 Apr. 2012.

"Genetic Employment Laws." NCSL Home. Web. 22 Apr. 2012. .

3 Comments

I think genes are an interesting topic to discuss. As you pointed out, there are always pros and cons about looking into topics such as genes. While genes may reveal if a person is more prone to depression, anxiety, and other characteristics, we must also take into account the role environment plays. As we have learned throughout this course, genes do not always determine how a person will turn out, as environment also plays a large role (the nature vs. nurture debate). I do not think it would be fair for jobs to discriminate against people with 'poor' genes because genes do not spell out how a person will do at a job. While genes can be very helpful in different aspects of life, we must be tentative in looking at genes in all situations.

Really interesting article you bring up here. Well done! The concept of using genetics in testing children's predispositions to diseases is one filled with controversy. Do we really all want to know our child's likelihood of developing a genetic-based disease right after they are born? I know that they already do amniocentesis to determine whether or not a fetus has some chromosomal-based diseases (like trisomy 21), but what are the ethical considerations involving testing of genetic-based diseases?

Isn't it interesting that gene makes us?
According to the genes, we look like our parents and we can even have similar life style. Maybe you also have in common in your family members. When someon need the part of the body, one of the family members even give the person's organ for the transplant. Like this, there are a number of amazing things in our body which is related to our genes!

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This page contains a single entry by shneu002 published on April 22, 2012 9:39 AM.

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