Sept. 8 and 9: Grandma's Experiences Leave a Mark on Your Genes (required)

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Sept. 8 and 9: Grandma's Experiences Leave a Mark on Your Genes (required)

Postby ShawnMiller » Wed Sep 02, 2015 12:57 pm

Grandma's Experiences Leave a Mark on Your Genes from Discovery Magazine

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Re: Sept. 8 and 9: Grandma's Experiences Leave a Mark on Your Genes (required)

Postby lksalinero » Fri Sep 04, 2015 6:19 pm

I thought the issue of epigenome altering drugs and when their use might be appropriate was interesting. I was more familiar with the epigenetic study done by Randy Jirtle at Duke that was mentioned briefly in the article and the idea that people in the future might be able to manage their epigenetics with specific diets. Compared to dietary changes, an anti-methylation drug seems much more powerful and risky.

I also found it interesting to read an article written for the general public after having read so many academic journal articles. I had forgotten how different the two genres are, and Hurley’s brazen similes and dramatic characterizations of the key scientists (i.e. “He has the rugged good looks and tousled salt-and-pepper hair of someone found on a ski slope.”) certainly made this article entertaining to read. I suppose what Hurley gained in entertainment value he lost in credibility – at least in my eyes – but that’s not necessarily a bad thing given his audience.

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Re: Sept. 8 and 9: Grandma's Experiences Leave a Mark on Your Genes (required)

Postby lksalinero » Fri Sep 04, 2015 6:20 pm

“How could we be sure that epigenetic drugs would scrub clean only the dangerous marks, leaving beneficial — perhaps essential — methyl groups intact?” This question from the final paragraph of the article reminded me of Barr bodies and X-chromosome inactivation in females. Essentially, one of the X-chromosomes in each somatic cell of a female mammal is completely methylated and almost entirely inactivated as a way to prevent females from getting a double dose of the gene products made by the X-chromosome (relative to males). This is an example of how epigenetic regulation of DNA transcription isn’t just a “bonus feature” that makes only small changes and adjustments; it’s a fundamental type of gene regulation that plays a crucial role in keeping an organism functioning. I suppose this is both good and bad for those developing for epigenome altering drugs (good because such drugs could potentially have very powerful effects, and bad because the risks associated with making changes in the epigenome are fairly high).

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Re: Sept. 8 and 9: Grandma's Experiences Leave a Mark on Your Genes (required)

Postby anjames » Sat Sep 05, 2015 6:55 pm

I got major Hormones & Behavior flashbacks when reading the parts about prolactin and maternal care. That aside, I've already seen some of this research trickling into conversation with family members. Instead of exclusively worrying about health during pregnancy, my family is already guessing which grandparents encouraged which traits and how their healthy eating is important for the health of all future generations (if they're planning on having kids). It's not something I constantly see, but I have seen this behavior in my family more than once. Has anyone else seen/heard something similar?

I couldn't help but notice how the metaphors were shifted to point out the changing view of genetics. Instead of talking about DNA as a static code, Hurley brings up Etch-A-Sketch and Szyf likens trichostatin A to "rebooting a computer", like what was recently done but not saved goes away when you reboot your computer. Likely rebooting a computer is not the best metaphor on all time frames and for all applications of demethylating drugs and it still implies that we are our code and its modulators. But it is an interesting change anyway.

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Re: Sept. 8 and 9: Grandma's Experiences Leave a Mark on Your Genes (required)

Postby fdtran » Sat Sep 05, 2015 8:09 pm

I personally have never heard about epigenetics until coming into this class. It is interesting how experiences in our lives not only affect our psyche but also our internal biology. I particularly found the experiment of the attentive and inattentive rat mothers to be fascinating and how the epigenetic effects of inattentive parenting on rat offsprings were reversible. Perhaps with further research we can reverse the harmful epigenetic effects humans have in order to treat those suffering from post traumatic stress disorder.

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Re: Sept. 8 and 9: Grandma's Experiences Leave a Mark on Your Genes (required)

Postby ktoporovskaya » Sun Sep 06, 2015 12:34 pm

Epigenetics is a very interesting field of research. I find it fascinating how methylation can silence certain genes, which could be passed on to next generations. The effect of this is similar to mutation in the genome. I also think its unfortunate that a child born into this world does not get a clean start but brings the ancestral baggage with them. I also think it is great that we are doing this research, the more informed mothers are, the more they can do to help their children and grandchildren be healthy. I think it also put a bigger responsibility on parents to raise their children in a good environment.

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Re: Sept. 8 and 9: Grandma's Experiences Leave a Mark on Your Genes (required)

Postby tschristoffel » Mon Sep 07, 2015 12:24 am

I think epigenetics will be able to reveal both useful and startling facts about the nature of inheritance and our development as humans beings. One thing I really feel the need to wrap my head around is the causal pathway that leads from stressful experiences to the methylation of cells located in certain areas of the brain. Just as bewildering to me is the mechanism by which such changes could be transferred to offspring. This would require some kind of epigenetic change in the germ line, which may be the case if the epigenetic changes occur throughout the body (this seems supported by the fact that increased methylation results were obtained via blood test).

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Re: Sept. 8 and 9: Grandma's Experiences Leave a Mark on Your Genes (required)

Postby eugenekim » Mon Sep 07, 2015 2:55 pm

The theory of epigenetics is incredible. I remember hearing from a psychiatrist that alcoholism is a passed down trait that could be stopped from passing down if the parent willingly quits and how that never made any sense to me. How could alcoholism a disease be completely eradicated from the parent in only one generation and thinking how it was possible for it to affect the genes. Now studies show that the changes could occur without any changes to the genes due to epigentics is mind boggling. This creates an exiting new possibility to treat mental trauma such as depression and anxiety though altering of these methyl groups. It's fascinating to see that in the future we may potentially be able to remove the traumatic past of being raised by bad mothers by simple injections. What's even more interesting in my belief is the debate of nature v.s. nurture. On one hand, you have the passing on anxiety and depression onto mice from their fathers but also the study demonstrates that a mother bred by a defeated male was able to prevent their children from having these epigentic traits.

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Re: Sept. 8 and 9: Grandma's Experiences Leave a Mark on Your Genes (required)

Postby Nancy Galeno » Mon Sep 07, 2015 4:23 pm

After reading this article I still feel skeptical about if and how our ancestor’s childhoods affect us biologically. I find epigenetics in general really fascinating however I feel that the article did not do a good enough job of explaining how that aspect of memory could affect offspring in a significant level. I do however understand how an own person’s childhood experience how affect their personalities develop. I just do not find it fully credible that a person’s childhood could affect their future grandchildren.

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Postby twilliams » Mon Sep 07, 2015 5:36 pm

I find the conclusions made by epigenetic studies to be a relief. There was a time that I feared the plausibility of genetic determinism, and epigenetics more or less put that to rest. What I never considered before, however, was how this article suggested the possibility of altering epigenetics through pharmaceutical drugs. I don't know how I feel about solving such things through drug usage, but the possibility alone seems interesting. What I find the most appealing, though, is how "anti-deterministic" this all is. Like the article pointed out, if you were dealt a bad hand at birth (gene wise), it is indeed possible to undo that through good parenting. Not everything, mind you of course, but something is better than nothing.

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Re: Sept. 8 and 9: Grandma's Experiences Leave a Mark on Your Genes (required)

Postby twilliams » Mon Sep 07, 2015 5:52 pm

Nancy Galeno wrote:After reading this article I still feel skeptical about if and how our ancestor’s childhoods affect us biologically. I find epigenetics in general really fascinating however I feel that the article did not do a good enough job of explaining how that aspect of memory could affect offspring in a significant level. I do however understand how an own person’s childhood experience how affect their personalities develop. I just do not find it fully credible that a person’s childhood could affect their future grandchildren.


Your skepticism is definitely warranted. Even at the end of the article it mentioned that there is no consensus on how epigenetics are passed down. The article's title is rather misleading. The experiment where the female mice were impregnated in vitro fertilization showed no abnormality in child behavior is very telling that this is not perfectly solid. What I am curious about is how it said that epigenetic changes in mice are usually erased, but not perfectly, and how these imperfections can possibly lead to passing on epigenetics to offspring. What could the cause of this imperfect erasure be? Is it just a mutation? There is a lot of work left to be done on just how far this can go, if it actually can go at all. For now, though, I think the most important part of this is how even having a genetic predisposition to certain behaviors does not mean you will have to be stuck with them.

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Re: Sept. 8 and 9: Grandma's Experiences Leave a Mark on Your Genes (required)

Postby euriekim » Mon Sep 07, 2015 9:17 pm

I'm a little doubtful about the concept of our ancestors passing down genes due to their actions growing up. If an ancestor has alcoholism and passes it down to his/her child and that the future grandchild succumbs to alcoholism, does the alcoholism trait vanish from their subsequent generations until someone develops alcoholism again? I felt as though the article failed to fully address how and why this occurs.

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Sept. 8 and 9: Grandma's Experiences Leave a Mark on Your Genes (required)

Postby Selestine » Mon Sep 07, 2015 9:24 pm

I found the the article to be interesting especially the part that talks about epigenetic. I would say that the topic about epigenetic will have a profound positive effect to people who think that since they were born having certain traits then its hard for them to change those traits. But now with the introduction of the new the field of behavioral epigenetics people could acquire certain traits by changing their environments and some of their genes would be suppressed.

Also I had a question; I didn't understand the explanation that was given on how methyl groups work. I would like to hear more about how the methyl groups are connected to epigenetics.

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Postby euriekim » Mon Sep 07, 2015 9:33 pm

I found the topic about a mother's love impacting their child's life interesting. It's amazing how love or neglect can alter our personalities and behaviors so drastically. I don't understand the benefits of caring for offspring differently if they're from the "sperm from defeated males". The main goal is to pass down your genetic information as far as possible; so it didn't make sense for me for the mother to treat them differently since they weren't from the higher-ranking males of the population.

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Postby JustinN » Mon Sep 07, 2015 9:56 pm

I was just as surprised as Szyf was in his discovery that he could inject trichostatin straight into the brain and remove the methyl groups that he wanted. I had figured that injecting a chemical that targets methyl groups wouldn't be specific to the desired sites and resulted in overall death. I feel as though it was an over simplification of how much of our genes are actually methylated. I'm concerned that it might give people the false impression of how necessary methylation works.

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Postby KelseyBS » Mon Sep 07, 2015 9:59 pm

I've noticed a theme of alcohol in the articles we've read this summer...It makes me worry how much of our science is being developed under the influence. Besides scientists' abuse of intoxicants, The idea of our ancestors' experiences semi-permanently affecting our DNA creates a strong interest in my family's history in me. I was never interested in my genetic history before. I know that I am 100% Portuguese and always saw it as a very boring fact of myself. Because of that opinion I never took to learning about my family. I now want to know how my family's experiences have come together and affected me in ways that I had not realized before.

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Sept. 8 and 9: Grandma's Experiences Leave a Mark on Your Genes (required)

Postby Selestine » Mon Sep 07, 2015 10:02 pm

The article has been able to address issues regarding epigenetics well. But on the other side, I think that the article hasn't showed/stated clearly what happens if you have a born baby whose father is an alcoholic addict and whose mother has never consumed alcohol completely. What would the kid end up to be? Given the circumstance that the kid will be brought up by all parents together. So I would also like to hear more about this since I do believe that in such circumstances its hard to determine how the kid will be.

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Re: Sept. 8 and 9: Grandma's Experiences Leave a Mark on Your Genes (required)

Postby herrerajen » Mon Sep 07, 2015 11:06 pm

I'd like to draw attention to the cycling effect of epigenetics. Frances Champagne's findings showed that baby rodents which were mothered with low estrogen receptors made them less attentive to their own babies.

Discussions concerning abuse oftentimes point to statistics which show that overwhelmingly the abuser was abused as well. As a result this becomes a cycle. This point connects to the last point the author makes "if such a pill could free the genes within your brain of the epigenetic detritus left by all the wars, the rapes, the abandonments and cheated childhoods of your ancestors, would you take it?" By this logic, all the Syrian refugees would be taking this powerful pill. All of those affected by the Rwandan genocide would prescribed this pill. All of the Black lives that have been terrorized by the police would be given this pill. Part of me cringes at this question, although it has good intentions, because it individualizes the problem. There are structures and institutions that create much of the trauma we face today.

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Postby herrerajen » Mon Sep 07, 2015 11:33 pm

I'm interested by the ways the treatment(s) will unfold to epigenetic methylation. It seems as though pharmaceutical companies are already looking for ways they can use this to treat depression, anxiety, and PTSD. The author makes sure that caution should be taken when approaching this major step as there could be beneficial or essential methyl groups that could potentially be scrubbed away. I'm wondering how the precautionary principle would apply to this phenomena?

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Re: Sept. 8 and 9: Grandma's Experiences Leave a Mark on Your Genes (required)

Postby eridolfi » Tue Sep 08, 2015 7:55 am

I am still very new to epigenetics and know next to nothing about it. I do find it very interesting that potential treatments of diseases could be discovered by examining this information.

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Postby Bowen Tan » Tue Sep 08, 2015 9:31 am

I think the epigenome can help to explain a part of our behaviors and the tendency toward diseases. But one essential factor which can't be neglected is the role of education in human society. Infants are born with the imitation ability. It means it is hard to detect whether the epigenetic changes which are enough to cause behavioral outcomes occurs post of the born. Although there is a scar of grandparents, will there a possibility that it is the genome inherited by grandparents itself that has an ability to get different extent of effects of methyl groups?

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Postby uwogisele » Tue Sep 08, 2015 10:10 am

"Jews whose great-grandparents were chased from their Russian shtetls; Chinese whose grandparents lived through the ravages of the Cultural Revolution; young immigrants from Africa whose parents survived massacres; adults of every ethnicity who grew up with alcoholic or abusive parents — all carry with them more than just memories".

I think there is some truth to this. Most of the time, children who group with abusive parents become aggressive themselves. I always thought the reason is children learn from their parents. I never thought about it as an inherited behavior.

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Postby sarahsilverman » Tue Sep 08, 2015 11:00 am

I appreciate the metaphor of the "etch-a-sketch" for epigenetic markers. It is a good way of delineating between the relative permanence of genes and the relatively ephemeral nature of epigenetic markers. The current research in epigenetics has the potential to add important data to the scientific cannon on the difference between "genes" and "gene expression." While we idiomatically say that we are who we are because of our genes, it may be more accurate to say that we are who we are because of how our genes are expressed. The fact that twins have been studied extensively, even before the discovery of DNA, shows that the question of how two very genetically similar individuals do and do not differ in morphology, behaviour, and personality has been on researcher's minds for a very long time.

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Postby kgbaidoo » Tue Sep 08, 2015 11:33 am

I used to think that the genes passed down by our parents are sometimes responsible for why and how we behave in certain ways.I also learnt from the class that we they manner in which we evolve in our society is also shaped by what we learn form our parents and peers but least did I i know that the manner in which my mother or grandmother lived some years ago could affect my way of life.I also find it very helpful that they have a procedure that eliminate any of the bad behaviors passed down to us from our ancestors.So can is it right to blame the mothers of people who are highly vicious , dangerous, tempered for their? Can we say it a result of bad parenting or just blame the individuals themselves.The studies from the mice proved that parents paid more attention and nursed their children had more calm children whiles mother's who paid less attention had babies who were more nervous and less clam.If this is true, are we allowed to blame our parents some of our behaviors ?

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Postby SamGarcia25 » Tue Sep 08, 2015 11:46 am

The article mentions diet as an influence of epigenetic change, so I wonder how this would affect how people think about GMOs in this context. It would be interesting to compare the methylation patterns of individuals from pre-GMO era to the those of their present descendants; perhaps one could examine the extent of GMO effects this way. On a different note, I am curious to see how pharmaceutical companies intend to make drugs selective enough to avoid unnecessary methyl removal on an individual's epigenome. And if they do perfect drugs that can produce a methyl-free clean slate, would people in fact take it? I like how the article mentioned this because even if it would be for the better, one may ask, "well will it be me anymore?"

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Postby ShawnMiller » Tue Sep 08, 2015 11:55 am

I initially found Moshe Szyf's admission that "[f]or a molecular biologist, anything that didn’t have a clear molecular pathway was not serious science" to be a little startling, as it seems to express the sort of attitude that came in for so much criticism from, e.g., Lloyd and Griesemer. However, on reflection, maybe the charitable reading is that Szyf is just talking about molecular biology; that is, he isn't claiming that to be serious biological science just is to identify a molecular pathway, but, rather, that that is what is required for molecular biology.

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Postby dianalee » Tue Sep 08, 2015 11:56 am

It is interesting finds that epigenetic changes can be wipe clean by trichostatin A which remove methyl groups that was causing the behavioral deficits in offspring. I especially like the term “it was like rebooting a computer”. This is promising research field that can help many people, especially war veterans who suffer from PTSD.

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Postby KelseyBS » Tue Sep 08, 2015 11:57 am

The 3rd part of this article discussed the effects of childhood experiences vs adult experiences. Their findings worry me a lot: I don't know how often I've heard parents or other adults around infants say, "Oh, they won't remember this later in life." This is common "justification" for bad parenting, which in my book is not acceptable.
Additionally, Hurley leaves this article of a very daunting idea/question. The thought did cross my mind to create a drug to erase the Methyl groups, but I don't know that I'd be comfortable taking it. Sure I'd like to remove the root of my depression, but do I want to risk removing what makes me, me?

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Postby pkshah » Tue Sep 08, 2015 12:13 pm

"could certain experiences — child neglect, drug abuse or other severe stresses — also set off epigenetic changes to the DNA inside the neurons of a person’s brain? " (Discovery Magazine). As someone who is not familiar with the concept of epigenetics, it blew my mind to know that it was possible to inherit more than just the DNA of an individual. The idea that behaviors can be somehow passed down as well was mind boggling to me. Furthermore, it completely redefined what I had believed was having a strong molecular perspective on things like evolution and the human genome project. I thought that molecularism was the idea that DNA and molecules were the sole cause of heritability; therefore, genes are would be the main drivers of evolution and, as a result, things like behavioral traits were relatively independent from DNA and had more to do with the influence of the environment. Now I am hearing that there is a field called behavioral epigenetics where there are molecular reasons for behavioral characteristics as well...It becomes more and more apparent that I can blame my parents for my shortcomings ;)

In the pups of inattentive mothers, they found that genes regulating the production of glucocorticoid receptors, which regulate sensitivity to stress hormones, were highly methylated; in the pups of conscientious moms, the genes for the glucocorticoid receptors were rarely methylated (Discovery Magazine). This was also really cool!

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Postby nyonan » Tue Sep 08, 2015 12:40 pm

While I really want this theory of epigenetics to be true, I feel wary. It seems too easy. What I mean is if it is true that your mother or grandmother bequeathed you a bad habit or made you prone to a certain lifestyle due to their actions in life through this epigenetics, then with a certain understanding we can map this out and wipe bad habits clean right? We can do studies to find what methyl groups where do what to the mind and body, I would think. We could wipe out depression or alcoholism or addictive tendencies with that supposing they are all linked to a certain past action. Like they did with the rats, they injected trichostatin A which got rid of the methyl groups formed by poor upbringing. They said it was like "rebooting a computer" and the rats did not show symptoms of the neglect they received. I would absolutely love that to be that easy and true. Shoot my head up with a chemical and I don't have depression, alcoholism, etc. anymore. But at the same time, it seems too simple. Do we know if that will cause severe backlash? Did they test those rats that they injected the chemical with properly? Did they watch them throughout their entire lives and then watch their offspring? Again, if it is all said and done nothing bad came about it and it just removes methylation which is a cause for all the bad stuff in our heads, I'm all for it. I just know that life tends to be a little more complex than that, but hey maybe my outlook is due to extra methylation somewhere in my brain.

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Postby Michelle Tarango » Tue Sep 08, 2015 1:23 pm

I had previously learned how epigenetics was an interaction between the environment and a person's DNA which caused a different result than either would on it's own. However, I found it fascinating to learn how the methyl groups can attach to the DNA and alter it to cause these changes. Although it seems slightly far-fetched that an experience our grandmother had can then affect our genetic makeup, it is understandable if the experience caused the gene to permanently change.

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Postby pattyt » Tue Sep 08, 2015 1:48 pm

I agree with what some of my classmates have stated; it seems like an easy explanation of a person's behavior. It would be interesting to see how one's ancestors affect them beyond simple genetics, but it all seems a bit iffy. It seems that through applying an anti-methylation drug one could wipe the slays clean. How much of what we are is behaviors and environment affecting or genetic adaptation and how much is the inheritance of genes?

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Postby msnelmida » Tue Sep 08, 2015 1:48 pm

Nancy Galeno wrote:After reading this article I still feel skeptical about if and how our ancestor’s childhoods affect us biologically. I find epigenetics in general really fascinating however I feel that the article did not do a good enough job of explaining how that aspect of memory could affect offspring in a significant level. I do however understand how an own person’s childhood experience how affect their personalities develop. I just do not find it fully credible that a person’s childhood could affect their future grandchildren.


I feel the same way. I had always feel that I had made different choices from my parents. I am open about it since epigenetics is something that have been proven through numerous studies. The problem is that providing proof for this new hypothesis in comparison to their previous study can be harder. Then again in the end this is still a hypothesis.

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Postby jjquintanilla » Tue Sep 08, 2015 1:52 pm

I think that this is a interesting topic because it brings into transfer the notion that the past action of our ancestors affect the outcome of the future generation, which in some sense ties to history. For in history, the actions of the past has transformed modern society into what is now.

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Postby lemacias » Tue Sep 08, 2015 2:07 pm

This movie heed me to understand how DNA imprinting has tremendous consequences in our bodies and future generations. Also, how fragile and delicate humans are to theirs environments without even noticing. Imhad to stop for a moment and relate this movie to my own personal experiences and family history and it is scary to be aware of all the ways we have been affected not only biologically but culturally also by past generations.

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Postby dianalee » Tue Sep 08, 2015 6:25 pm

The studies from the documentary showed that the exposure to stress, poisons at the right time of developmental process of one’s grandparents can be pass down to many generations. I was wondering, if these effects can be reversible by exposing the next generation to stress free or non poison environments at the right time of their developmental stage through natural process rather than using the drug that the article mention.

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Postby ShawnMiller » Tue Sep 08, 2015 6:41 pm

dianalee wrote:The studies from the documentary showed that the exposure to stress, poisons at the right time of developmental process of one’s grandparents can be pass down to many generations. I was wondering, if these effects can be reversible by exposing the next generation to stress free or non poison environments at the right time of their developmental stage through natural process rather than using the drug that the article mention.

That's an interesting question. As mentioned in the class today, transcendental meditation has been shown to be effective in changing stress-hormone levels for the good, i.e., countering the effects of stress. So maybe adopting a meditation practice during a particular period in life could offset/erase undesirable epigenetic changes. Since the drug works by removing methyl groups, for it to be plausible that meditation could be effective, it would need to be shown that it works via the same mechanism.

One reason that drug treatments might be more likely to be pursued is that you can test their effectiveness on laboratory animals, whereas you can't teach rats to meditate. So demonstrating the effectiveness of meditation for breaking a chain of epigenetic inheritance of negative stress effects (that's a mouthful!) will take a long time since humans have relatively long lives and will be difficult to do because, among other things, it's hard to get research subjects to meditate for 15-20 minutes twice a day.

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Postby fdtran » Tue Sep 08, 2015 10:06 pm

After our class discussion and after watching the documentary I took interest in knowing that our present actions and our environment shape the futures and well beings of future generations. As an environmental toxicology major, I was particularly interested in the experiment of poisoning rats with various pesticides. This begs the question about how the environmental issues of today will affect the future generations.

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Re: Sept. 8 and 9: Grandma's Experiences Leave a Mark on Your Genes (required)

Postby anjames » Tue Sep 08, 2015 11:24 pm

While skimming the optional reading on inheritance systems, I did a doubletake. That definition of epigenetics was so different from what I was taught I thought the author got mixed up somehow. I get it now that it's part of one kind of classification. What confused me was that I wasn't used to the broader sense of epigenetics. I guess it hadn't really occurred to me that such a narrow, molecular view might be an incomplete way of using the word. I had accepted that gut microbiota can be inherited, not that I'm sure how long-lasting the effects of inherited bacteria can be. But I hadn't thought of how it would really fit into an inheritance system. I wouldn't mind discussing that excerpt in class tomorrow.

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Re: Sept. 8 and 9: Grandma's Experiences Leave a Mark on Your Genes (required)

Postby tschristoffel » Tue Sep 08, 2015 11:55 pm

In the documentary, there is an analogy drawn between the possible epigenetic effects in the children of holocaust survivors and the children of 9/11 survivors, but I wonder if it makes a difference whether or not a child is in a mother's womb during a traumatic event when it comes to epigenetic inheritance. If so, I think this analogy is faulty because a mother was more likely to be carrying a child during the latter. It makes sense to me that 9/11 would be more likely to affect a child than a traumatic event that occurred before conception, as their body systems were intertwined when the traumatic event occurred, and thus an effect on the mother's body system could spread to that of the fetus. A woman impregnated during the holocaust was not likely to see the child survive birth as those that survived were often used for experimentation or murdered immediately after. Thus children of holocaust survivors were more likely to be conceived after the holocaust had ended, and any effects seen in them could more understandably be the result of growing up with parents suffering from PTSD than an epigenetic cause.

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Re: Sept. 8 and 9: Grandma's Experiences Leave a Mark on Your Genes (required)

Postby Bowen Tan » Wed Sep 09, 2015 1:00 am

I think epigenetic offers a fresh way to redefine human beings' born rights especially the right for freedom. Actually we are trapped in our ancestors through inherited epigenetic. It can be a way to make next generation more susceptible to diseases. It also can be a way to make next generation be with nice characteristics. Whether it is beneficial or not, it constructs a kind of innovative restriction without personal decision. Thus, are our behaviors decided by ourselves totally?

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Re: Sept. 8 and 9: Grandma's Experiences Leave a Mark on Your Genes (required)

Postby eridolfi » Wed Sep 09, 2015 8:25 am

While this is a new, interesting and possibly very beneficial field of study, it also seems like more fodder for genetic determinism. Like the pianist example I gave the other day, I would like to think that my ability to dance was more influenced by interest and hard work, not because my Nonni danced the Tarantella on her wedding night. What about learned behavior or observed behavior that is copied. There have been studies that have shown that when girls observe their mothers preoccupation with their weight or dieting, the girls are more likely to develop the same behavior.

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Re: Sept. 8 and 9: Grandma's Experiences Leave a Mark on Your Genes (required)

Postby nyonan » Wed Sep 09, 2015 9:51 am

The video in class seemed to show mainly negative effects of epigenetics and the article seems to view positive procedures yet each one seems to say that the main or only thing that is passed down is negative. Trauma or bad experiences seem to be the only things mentioned. Though, it is great that we may figure out what causes a lot of harmful ailments such as depression because it would mean we may be able to fix it. I would like to see, however, a study that could show positive effects due to the passage of epigenetics if there are any.

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Re: Sept. 8 and 9: Grandma's Experiences Leave a Mark on Your Genes (required)

Postby ShawnMiller » Wed Sep 09, 2015 10:33 am

anjames wrote:While skimming the optional reading on inheritance systems, I did a doubletake. That definition of epigenetics was so different from what I was taught I thought the author got mixed up somehow. I get it now that it's part of one kind of classification. What confused me was that I wasn't used to the broader sense of epigenetics. I guess it hadn't really occurred to me that such a narrow, molecular view might be an incomplete way of using the word. I had accepted that gut microbiota can be inherited, not that I'm sure how long-lasting the effects of inherited bacteria can be. But I hadn't thought of how it would really fit into an inheritance system. I wouldn't mind discussing that excerpt in class tomorrow.

This reading discusses a 2005 book by Jablonka and Lamb, where they argue that "all types of hereditary information—genetic,
epigenetic, behavioural and cultural—have contributed to evolutionary change." Here is an article they wrote in 2007 responding to three reviews of their book.

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Re: Sept. 8 and 9: Grandma's Experiences Leave a Mark on Your Genes (required)

Postby ShawnMiller » Wed Sep 09, 2015 10:44 am

Philosophers are giving a lot of attention to epigenetics these days. A search of the Philosopher's Index bears this out. (Access to this link requires either being on campus or being connected via VPN.)

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Re: Sept. 8 and 9: Grandma's Experiences Leave a Mark on Your Genes (required)

Postby SamGarcia25 » Wed Sep 09, 2015 10:56 am

After reading the article and watching the documentary in class, epigenetics made me think twice not only about my habits but also the environment I put myself in. If both of these things can affect children and stick with generations down the line, control of environmental toxicity is more important now. For an environmental toxicology class, I did a research paper on Manganism, a disease arising from the excess inhalation of manganese dust. Long-term exposure to this dust in the workplace can lead to Parkinson's disease symptoms. In developing countries where safety regulation is lax and not so enforced, studies have shown potential cases of heritable Manganism. Evidence was weak for some studies when attempting to explain this by genetic means, but non-exposed children were afflicted by the condition nonetheless. In their conclusions, some mentioned turning to epigenetics for better insight into explaining this particular problem.

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Re: Sept. 8 and 9: Grandma's Experiences Leave a Mark on Your Genes (required)

Postby eugenekim » Wed Sep 09, 2015 11:10 am

Epigenetics has demonstrated that there may be a deeper underlying root of how behavior came to be. When the documentary demonstrated that the Jewish survivors depicted similar behavior to their parents who went through the holocaust, I began to wonder how the Jews as a race, especially from Europe developed their personality, culture, and traditions. Throughout history Jews have been persecuted all over Europe for their beliefs, not only just from the holocaust, which may have played an even bigger role in shaping their personality than what we may know now. Massive amounts of stress from long extended generations, may have been placed upon a Jewish child who never has been exposed to the types of stress his ancestors went through. This leads us straight back to the questions of the battle between nautre v.s. nurture.

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Re: Sept. 8 and 9: Grandma's Experiences Leave a Mark on Your Genes (required)

Postby pattyt » Wed Sep 09, 2015 11:49 am

Watching the video in class helped toe things together a little more. It is interesting how they tie in not just behavior but environmental events such as famine. Combining epigenetics with the sixties of the human genome it might be easier to find the root of a disease instead of simply a way to treat it. The ideas presented really make one think of all the possibilities.

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Re: Sept. 8 and 9: Grandma's Experiences Leave a Mark on Your Genes (required)

Postby uwogisele » Wed Sep 09, 2015 11:55 am

Yesterday we talked about how knowing that what we do, what we eat, what diseases we have will impact us, can give us a sense of great responsibility; but I was kind of thinking, could that fact also make us less accountable to our actions? For instance, if I am alcoholic, can I argue that it's not my fault that I am alcoholic, alcoholism is a disease that I inherited from my grand-parents, so it's truly not my fault.

is there fault in that argument?

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Re: Sept. 8 and 9: Grandma's Experiences Leave a Mark on Your Genes (required)

Postby msnelmida » Wed Sep 09, 2015 12:49 pm

uwogisele wrote:Yesterday we talked about how knowing that what we do, what we eat, what diseases we have will impact us, can give us a sense of great responsibility; but I was kind of thinking, could that fact also make us less accountable to our actions? For instance, if I am alcoholic, can I argue that it's not my fault that I am alcoholic, alcoholism is a disease that I inherited from my grand-parents, so it's truly not my fault.

is there fault in that argument?


An interesting question/argument. I think it does make us less accountable in some sense but knowing one may know that such behavior can be changed makes us still responsible. I think if one knows the does not know the reason he or she is alcoholic for reasons of "epigenetics" then one cannot really figure out specific solution to a problem. Then if one knows the reason is "epigenetics" then one specific solution may appear such as prevention with the help of another individual or group/community thus making such person responsible in a sense by not finding help in some way. There will always be extreme cases and exceptions.


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