Photo courtesy University of IowaCould there be a link between the obesity epidemic and eugenic thinking? A historian of science at Washington University in St. Louis poses the question.As obesity rates continue to grow in the United States, threatening the health of millions of Americans, a historian of science warns that social problems such as this cannot be solved through science, especially genetics, alone. In this new “gene age” in which large amounts of research funds are used for studies on the genetics of such complex social traits as alcoholism, criminality or obesity, for example, Garland E. Allen, Ph.D., professor of biology in Arts & Sciences at Washington University in St. Louis, says the climate is ripe for a “re-packaged” eugenics in American society. Allen points out that 100 years ago, eugenics, a movement that claimed many social, personality and mental traits were hereditary, was emerging as a major social movement in Europe and the United States. His concern: it might well still be with us today.
Everett Mendelsohn, one of America’s foremost historians of science, will deliver the Thomas Hall Lecture titled “Dolly and the Historians: Science, Politics and Ethics of Cloning” as part of the Washington University Assembly Series at 4 p.m., Thursday, November 13. The lecture is free and open to the public and will be held in Rebstock Hall, Room 215, located just east of Mallinckrodt Center (6445 Forsyth Blvd) on the Washington University campus.
Nobel Prize-winning biologist Sydney Brenner will deliver the annual Arthur Holly Compton Memorial Lecture for the Assembly Series at 4 p.m. Tues, Oct. 14. The lecture,”Humanity’s Genes,” is free and open to the public and will be held in Graham Chapel, located just north of Mallinckrodt Center (6445 Forsyth Blvd.) on the Washington University campus. Brenner’s lecture will discuss some of the questions raised by the completion of the Human Genome Project. He will talk about both the benefits and the fears raised by recent breakthroughs in genetic research, and his belief that the brain is mightier than the genome.