Category Archives: genetics

What if Wilkins and Franklin had been able to work together?

by Matthew Cobb Today I was interviewed by the French radio station, France-Culture (colloquially known as France-Cul), for a programme about Rosalind Franklin, the King’s College, London, researcher whose data were used by Watson and Crick as the basis of their double helix model of the structure of DNA. Much of the discussion, inevitably, revolved […]

Mukherjee corrects his new book in light of epigenetics kerfuffle, still defends his mischaracterization of gene regulation

You may remember—but not want to remember—the Big Epigenetic Kerfuffle documented on this website (see list of pieces here). It involved Siddhartha Mukherjee, doctor and Pulitzer-Prize-winning author, who was taken to the woodshed by a passel of famous molecular biologists for distorting the state of epigenetics research in a popular article. Mukherjee’s piece, “Same but different,” was […]

Google honors geneticist Nettie Stevens

I first heard of Nettie Stevens (1861-1912) when I was studying Mendelian genetics in college. She is well known to those of us who studied that branch of genetics (what I call “real” genetics!), but has been largely forgotten despite her immense contribution to the field. What was it? Nothing less than discovering that sex, at least in the […]

TED gets epigenetics wrong, but the juggernaut rolls on

I was hoping that the Epigenetics Tsunami would have abated a bit by now, but it’s still washing over the public. And the new video below, produced by TED-Ed, doesn’t help, for it distorts what we know about epigenetics. The organization should be named “TED-anti-ED”: Just a few of the erroneous claims that you’ll hear in the video: […]

Google Doodle celebrates Karl Landsteiner’s 148th birthday

If you remember your first-year biology or genetics, you may also recall the name “Landsteiner,” for it was Karl Landsteiner (1868-1943) who discovered the famous A, B, and O blood groups. And, in much of the world today—but not in the U.S.—Google is celebrating his 148th birthday with this Doodle: These four blood groups represent […]

Happy 100th birthday, Francis Crick (1916-2004)

by Matthew Cobb Francis Crick, co-discoverer of the double helix structure of DNA with Jim Watson, was born 100 years ago today, on 8 June 1916. He was one of the most remarkable scientists of the 20th century, and, in my opinion, had one of the greatest scientific minds ever. As Jerry put it here […]

Peppered moth mutation discovered at last

The story of the peppered moth, Biston betularia, is one of the most famous evolutionary tales known to the public, and is a staple of both popular literature and biology texts. It’s appealing because it’s an example of “evolution in action”: a case in which we could see evolution happening over only one or two human generations, and […]

Neil deGrasse Tyson gets epigenetics completely wrong

Oy! Neil deGrasse Tyson can be as misleading as Siddhartha Mukherjee when it comes to epigenetics. Here’s a video from NOVA Science (2012) showing Tyson stating—completely erroneously—that epigenetic phenomena, like gene methylation and histone alterations, are the important factor controlling the expression of genes. As he says, they constitute “a second genome: the epigenome.” As we’ve seen over […]

The End of the Mukherjee Affair: He “clarifies” in response to a critical letter

Let’s mercifully draw the curtain on L’Affaire Mukherjee, which started when a number of eminent scientists criticized Siddhartha Mukherjee’s May 2 New Yorker piece because it gave a completely distorted view of how genes are turned on and off to make bodies (see critiques here and here). I’ve been awaiting the New Yorker‘s and Mukherjee’s response […]

More on Mukherjee

We’ll have two guest posts today, and the second comes from Greg Mayer, who’s been AWOL for a while (he’s now in Costa Rica). by Greg Mayer As WEIT readers know, Pulitzer Prize winning author and physician Siddharta Mukherjee has been in the news since he published an article in the New Yorker on “epigenetics”. Surprisingly […]


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 42,152 other followers