Science you want to know: Epigenetic research actually explains what makes us human

So much of science promises a lot…and then never delivers. It’s enough to make you sigh and roll your eyes every time you see a screaming headline about a new type of research. That’s why so many of us don’t really want to dig in and try to understand some of the newer developments in basic science. It’s hard to argue with an I’ll Just Wait Until Something Real Appears approach. Well, epigenetics is an area whose time has come. Whether you’re an investor looking at potential therapeutic developments, or a social justice activist fascinated by the intersection of environment and health, or a passionate animal-lover (are you out there, Ken White?) wondering exactly what it is that makes us human, or an armchair social scientist pondering how people’s lives are affected by their choices (and visa versa), epigenetics is something you want to delve into. But where do you start?

In fact, once the horse is already out of the barn (and high school biology is a dim traumatic memory), how do you get your head around something that sounds as complex as “epigenetics”? Well here’s your chance for a user-friendly explanation with a clear-headed look at epigenetic’s promise and limitations. Check it out. Then pass it on to colleagues, friends, and your buddies who like to argue down at the pub.

“Epigenetics is now the hottest topic in biosciences,” began our California Endowment Health Journalism Fellowship’s keynote address by Randy Jirtle of Duke University. More….

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