Bibliography

Abraham Lincoln Did He Have Marfan Syndrome Pyeritz R. and Conant J. 1989. The Marfan syndrome, 3rd ed. National Marfan Foundation, Port Washington, New York. Sandburg C. 1960. Abraham Lincoln. Dell, New York. Advisory Statement by the Panel on DNA Testing of Abraham Lincoln's Tissue. McKu-sick V., Chairman. Spring 1991. Caduceus National Museum of Health and Medicine, Washington, D.C., pp. 41-47. Dietz, H., Cutting G., Pyeritz R., Maslen C., Sakai L., Corson G., Puffenberger E., Hamosh A.,...

Animal Organs to Save Humans

Every year in the United States and Europe, surgical transplant teams save ever more lives, yet every year the number of people who die while waiting for a donor heart, lung, liver, or kidney grows. Between 1990 and 1995 in the United States on average each year only 4,835 people became organ donors after their death, about 1 in 500 of all those who died. In most cases, the donors were young persons who died of traumatic head injury, and each could provide several organs. During 1994, about...

How Much Is Genetic

Th e gentle, rolling hills and beautiful farms of Lancaster County, Pennsylvania seem a most unlikely place to study the genetics of manic-depressive illness, but this lovely region is also the home of a special community of people, the Old Order Amish, a group whose way of life makes them of special interest to geneticists. For nearly 200 years, the Old Order Amish, descendants of devoutly religious, hardworking German immigrants, have farmed their land, clinging to most of their traditional...

Toulouse Lautrec

In the summer of 1997, I had the good fortune to take my family on holiday to Paris. Among the small souvenirs we brought home was a set of coasters for drinks, each depicting a famous Parisian landmark. They were the Eiffel Tower, Notre Dame, Sacre Coeur, the Arc de Triomphe, Saint Chapelle, and the Moulin Rouge. That the last, a tawdry dance hall set up in the 1880s on the outskirts of Paris, should hold rank with the other five is in one sense a measure of the impact of a talented,...

Can We Improve the Gene Pool

In 1949, when she was 15 years old, Betsy Stark, a poor girl who lived in a small town near Lynchburg, Virginia, and who had dropped out of school a year earlier, got pregnant. Shortly after she had the baby, whom she placed for adoption, Betsy was committed (at her father's request) to a large state institution for the mentally retarded in Lynchburg. As part of the admission process, a staff psychologist gave her an IQ test on which she scored 72, considered to be at the border between...

Old Bones

On June 5, 1995, Pavel Ivanov, a 42-year-old molecular geneticist who was working at the Engelhardt Institute of Molecular Biology in Moscow, arrived at the United States Armed Forces Institute of Pathology in Rockville, Maryland, with an unusual package a piece of the femur and a piece of the tibia of Grand Duke Georgij, the younger brother of Imperial Russia's last tsar, Nicholas II. Eleven months earlier, under the watchful eyes of bishops of the Russian Orthodox Church, forensic scientists...

Abraham Lincoln

No one seems to know exactly how tall, but by all accounts Abraham Lincoln was an uncommonly tall man. During the Civil War a reporter described him as a tall, lank, lean man considerably over 6 feet in height with stooping shoulders, long pendulous arms terminating in hands of extraordinary dimensions which, however, were far exceeded in proportion by his feet. Contemporary photographs confirm that he towered over most men. One famous photo shows him standing head and shoulders above the...

Are You at High Risk

In November 1994, Ronald Reagan announced that he was suffering from Alzheimer disease (in using eponyms to designated diseases, the powers that be recommend avoiding the possessive). It was the last public statement he was to make. Since then, those around him have been chary of saying much, but it appears that the former President has declined precipitously. Reagan no longer greets admirers with his trademark, slightly startled way. He cannot carry on a conversation and he recognizes only a...

Do Mutations Cause Crime

On Christmas day, 1965, Patricia Jacobs, a promising young cytogeneti-cist, and her colleagues published an astounding report of their studies of the chromosomes of 197 men who had been committed to the Carstairs Hospital for the criminally insane in Scotland. The 1960s was the golden age of cytogenetics, a period when, after a dark age, our knowledge of human chromosomes grew immensely. Since 1902, the year that Sutton and Boveri proposed that chromosomes carried the hereditary material (the...

New Foods and New Factories

In 1994 Robert Devlin, working at the Canadian Department of Fisheries and Oceans, inserted a fish growth hormone gene into the eggs of the Pacific coho salmon. After fertilization, about 6 of the resulting embryos took up the gene and developed into fish with double the natural supply of growth hormone. The results were astounding. The transgenic fish grew faster and bigger than their natural siblings. A few were truly giants, reaching a weight 30 times greater than the average of coho taken...

Were We Born This

My young Labrador retriever, Zoe, has an endearing if sometimes maddening need to be near her human family. As I write these words, she is sitting close to me, her muzzle resting on my thigh. It does no good to push her away. She needs to be this close. Zoe is affectionate to a fault. She is also a terrible beggar, willing to eat anything faintly resembling food. She will also play fetch as long as one of her humans can tolerate throwing her slimy stuffed bear across the yard. Dog fanciers know...

The Rise of DNA Felon Databanks

In the fall of 1991, Jean Broderick, a 23-year-old woman just out of Macalester College, decided to share a duplex apartment with Erica Nor-ris, one of her college friends, and two other roommates in Minneapolis. The Lowry Hill neighborhood was a bit shabby, enough to keep the rent low, but not so seedy as to make the three young women and one man worry much about safety. One Saturday night that November, Jean and Erica went out for a few drinks. When they came home they talked for a bit with...

What Are Epicanthal Folds Will They Disappear As My Babys Facial Features Grow

He could cruise along furniture, but he could not walk alone, and he was yet to speak. Again and again the experts went over the same questions. It was now obvious that something was seriously wrong, but still no one knew the cause. To the neurologist, the only hints of an underlying problem were subtle oddities in his face. Michael's head was somewhat large compared to his body, the distance between his eyes was a little more than it should be, and his palate had a higher than usual arch....

The Next Green Revolution

At first glance, it was just another cocktail party at the John R. Brown Convention Center in Houston, indistinguishable from the thousand that had preceded it in the large, nondescript room. Two hundred or so mid-level executives, a tiny fraction of the thousands who were attending the 1996 convention of the Biotechnology Industrial Organization BIO , milled about, trying to balance a plastic wine glass in one hand and a paper plate piled with food in the other. One could barely hear the...