By Peter S. Harper
An eminent geneticist, veteran writer, OMMG sequence Editor, and famous archivist, Peter Harper offers a full of life account of the way our principles and information approximately human genetics have built over the last century from the viewpoint of somebody contained in the box with a deep curiosity in its old elements. Dr. Harper has researched the heritage of genetics and has had own touch with a number of key figures whose stories and reviews expand again 50 years, and he has interviewed and recorded conversations with lots of those vital geneticists. hence, instead of being a traditional historical past, this booklet transmits the essence of the tips and the folks concerned and the way they interacted in advancing- and infrequently retarding- the sphere. From the origins of human genetics; throughout the contributions of Darwin, Mendel, and different giants; the identity of the 1st human chromosome abnormalities; and up throughout the crowning glory of the Human Genome venture, this Short History is written within the author's attribute transparent and private type, which appeals to geneticists and to all these attracted to the tale of human genetics.
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Additional info for A Short History of Medical Genetics
The answer to Darwin’s problem lay, of course, in the work of Mendel, already published two years before Variation of Animals and Plants under Domestication appeared. Mendel’s particulate system of inheritance would have immediately shown Darwin how variation can be preserved intact through the generations, despite the apparent loss of its effects in the initial generation after crossing. But Darwin, like the rest of the world, remained unaware of Mendel’s work, so the key to the solution remained unrecognized for another 30 years.
In two short papers released in 1888, he essentially demolished the factual basis of Lamarckism, showing, ﬁrst for plants and then for animals, how weak the evidence was and how implausible were any mechanisms by which environmental factors could affect the germ line. It is fair to say that Lamarckian inheritance of acquired characters never recovered scientiﬁcally from Weismann’s critique. His second paper included an assessment of human “mutilations,” including circumcision, body piercing, and foot binding; he concluded that there was no convincing evidence that any of these acquired characters had an effect on descendants.
The history of mankind, would it be too bold to imagine, that all warmblooded animals have arisen from one living ﬁlament, which THE GREAT FIRST CAUSE endued with animality, with the power of acquiring new parts, attended with new propensities, directed by irritations, sensations, volitions, and associations; and thus possessing the faculty of continuing to improve by its own inherent activity, and of delivering down those improvements by generation to its posterity, world without end! Erasmus Darwin’s concept of evolution is seen even more strikingly in his last work, The Temple of Nature, published in 1803 after his death: Organic Life beneath the shoreless waves Was born and nurs’d in Ocean’s pearly caves; First forms minute, unseen by spheric glass, Move on the mud, or pierce the watery mass; These, as successive generations bloom, New powers acquire, and larger limbs assume; Whence countless groups of vegetation spring, And breathing realms of ﬁn, and feet, and wing.