Epigenetics: How Environment Shapes Our Genes

W. W. Norton & Company
2
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Goodbye, genetic blueprint. . . . The first book for general readers on the game-changing field of epigenetics. The burgeoning new science of epigenetics offers a cornucopia of insights—some comforting, some frightening. For example, the male fetus may be especially vulnerable to certain common chemicals in our environment, in ways that damage not only his own sperm but also the sperm of his sons. And it’s epigenetics that causes identical twins to vary widely in their susceptibility to dementia and cancer. But here’s the good news: unlike mutations, epigenetic effects are reversible. Indeed, epigenetic engineering is the future of medicine.
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About the author

Richard C. Francis is a science journalist with a PhD in neurobiology from Stony Brook University. He is the author of the acclaimed books Domesticated, Epigenetics and Why Won’t Men Ask for Directions? He lives in northern California.

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Additional Information

Publisher
W. W. Norton & Company
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Published on
Jun 13, 2011
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Pages
256
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ISBN
9780393080322
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Features
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Language
English
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Genres
Science / Life Sciences / Genetics & Genomics
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Content Protection
This content is DRM protected.
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Available on Android devices
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Handbook of Epigenetics: The New Molecular and Medical Genetics, Second Edition, provides a comprehensive analysis of epigenetics, from basic biology, to clinical application. Epigenetics is considered by many to be the new genetics in that many biological phenomena are controlled, not through gene mutations, but rather through reversible and heritable epigenetic processes. These epigenetic processes range from DNA methylation to prions. The biological processes impacted by epigenetics are vast and encompass effects in lower organisms and humans that include tissue and organ regeneration, X-chromosome inactivation, stem cell differentiation, genomic imprinting, and aging.

The first edition of this important work received excellent reviews; the second edition continues its comprehensive coverage adding more current research and new topics based on customer and reader reviews, including new discoveries, approved therapeutics, and clinical trials. From molecular mechanisms and epigenetic technology, to discoveries in human disease and clinical epigenetics, the nature and applications of the science is presented for those with interests ranging from the fundamental basis of epigenetics, to therapeutic interventions for epigenetic-based disorders.

Timely and comprehensive collection of fully up-to-date reviews on epigenetics that are organized into one volume and written by leading figures in the fieldCovers the latest advances in many different areas of epigenetics, ranging from basic aspects, to technologies, to clinical medicine Written at a verbal and technical level that can be understood by scientists and college students Updated to include new epigenetic discoveries, newly approved therapeutics, and clinical trials
Much of the evolutionary biology that has grabbed headlines in recent years has sprung from the efforts of sociobiologists and evolutionary psychologists to explain sexual features and behavior--even differences between how men and women think--as evolutionary adaptations. They have looked to the forces of natural selection to explain everything from the mimicry of male mockingbirds to female orgasms among humans. In this controversial book, Richard Francis argues that the utility of this approach is greatly exaggerated. He proposes instead a powerful alternative rooted in the latest findings in evolutionary biology as well as research on the workings of our brains, genes, and hormones.

Exploring various sexual phenomena, Francis exposes fundamental defects in sociobiology and evolutionary psychology, which he traces to their misguided emphasis on "why" questions at the expense of "how" questions. Francis contends that this preoccupation with "why" questions (such as, "Why won't men ask for directions"?) results in a paranoiac mindset and distorted evolutionary explanations. His alternative framework entails a broader conception of what constitutes an evolutionary explanation, one in which both evolutionary history, as embodied in the tree of life, and developmental processes are brought to the foreground. This alternative framework is also better grounded in basic biology.


Deeply learned, consistently persuasive, and always engaging, this book is a welcome antidote to simplistic sociobiological exegeses of animal and human behavior.

“An essential read for anyone interested in the stories of the animals in our home or on our plate.”—BBC Focus

Without our domesticated plants and animals, human civilization as we know it would not exist. We would still be living at subsistence level as hunter-gatherers if not for domestication. It is no accident that the cradle of civilization—the Middle East—is where sheep, goats, pigs, cattle, and cats commenced their fatefully intimate association with humans.

Before the agricultural revolution, there were perhaps 10 million humans on earth. Now there are more than 7 billion of us. Our domesticated species have also thrived, in stark contrast to their wild ancestors. In a human-constructed environment—or man-made world—it pays to be domesticated.

Domestication is an evolutionary process first and foremost. What most distinguishes domesticated animals from their wild ancestors are genetic alterations resulting in tameness, the capacity to tolerate close human proximity. But selection for tameness often results in a host of seemingly unrelated by-products, including floppy ears, skeletal alterations, reduced aggression, increased sociality, and reduced brain size. It's a package deal known as the domestication syndrome.

Elements of the domestication syndrome can be found in every domesticated species—not only cats, dogs, pigs, sheep, cattle, and horses but also more recent human creations, such as domesticated camels, reindeer, and laboratory rats. That domestication results in this suite of changes in such a wide variety of mammals is a fascinating evolutionary story, one that sheds much light on the evolutionary process in general.

We humans, too, show signs of the domestication syndrome, which some believe was key to our evolutionary success. By this view, human evolution parallels the evolution of dogs from wolves, in particular.

A natural storyteller, Richard C. Francis weaves history, archaeology, and anthropology to create a fascinating narrative while seamlessly integrating the most cutting-edge ideas in twenty-first-century biology, from genomics to evo-devo.

A NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER

A paradigm-shifting book from an acclaimed Harvard Medical School scientist and one of Time’s most influential people.

It’s a seemingly undeniable truth that aging is inevitable. But what if everything we’ve been taught to believe about aging is wrong? What if we could choose our lifespan?

In this groundbreaking book, Dr. David Sinclair, leading world authority on genetics and longevity, reveals a bold new theory for why we age. As he writes: “Aging is a disease, and that disease is treatable.”

This eye-opening and provocative work takes us to the frontlines of research that is pushing the boundaries on our perceived scientific limitations, revealing incredible breakthroughs—many from Dr. David Sinclair’s own lab at Harvard—that demonstrate how we can slow down, or even reverse, aging. The key is activating newly discovered vitality genes, the descendants of an ancient genetic survival circuit that is both the cause of aging and the key to reversing it. Recent experiments in genetic reprogramming suggest that in the near future we may not just be able to feel younger, but actually become younger.

Through a page-turning narrative, Dr. Sinclair invites you into the process of scientific discovery and reveals the emerging technologies and simple lifestyle changes—such as intermittent fasting, cold exposure, exercising with the right intensity, and eating less meat—that have been shown to help us live younger and healthier for longer. At once a roadmap for taking charge of our own health destiny and a bold new vision for the future of humankind, Lifespan will forever change the way we think about why we age and what we can do about it.
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