Moshe Szyf. (2013). The Dialogue Between Social Environments and the Genome. American Journal of Public Health. e-View Ahead of Print.
Accepted on: Jun 20, 2013
The Dialogue Between Social Environments and the Genome
Moshe Szyf, PhD
Moshe Szyf is with the Department of Pharmacology and Therapeutics, McGill University, Montreal, Quebec.
The relationship between innate, inborn inherited properties and the environment, particularly the social environment, has been one of the most contentious topics in human intellectual discourse for many generations. This discussion touches upon foundational moral and philosophical questions that define who we are, and is therefore highly emotionally loaded. This agelong discussion has been reinvigorated in recent times by leapfrog progress in genetic research and the emerging dominant dogma in biology that genotypes determine physical as well as behavioral phenotypes. The sequencing of the human genome and the increasing feasibility of whole genome sequencing raised hopes that the vast majority of human disorders and interindividual variation in health and behavior will be explained by interindividual variations in DNA sequence. Genetic determinism has been pervasively dominant in biological sciences for the last century and beyond. Strong evidence for heritability of behavioral traits has paved a path for these concepts into social and behavioral sciences as well. (Am J Public Health. Published online ahead of print August 8, 2013: e1–e3. doi:10.2105/AJPH.2013.301533)