Genetics & Molecular Biology

Are you really what your mother ate, drank or got stressed about? The simple answer is “no”, but not in the way you think.

We are products of nature via nurture. Our genes and environments interact. And “environment” can be what we are experiencing now or at any time during our life.

An overwhelming body of evidence, from both humans and other animals, has shown that the environment we experience in the first 1,000 days of life influences our risk of chronic diseases: conditions such as heart disease, diabetes, psychiatric disorders and some cancers.

A new study suggests that a single set of genes affects a person's perception of sweet taste, regardless of whether the sweetener is a natural sugar or a non-caloric sugar substitute.


Johanna Olson, MD, and her colleagues at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles, provide care for the largest number of transgendered youth in the U.S. and have enrolled 101 patients in a prospective observational study to determine the safety and efficacy of treatment that helps patients bring their bodies into closer alignment with their chosen gender. 

Baseline characteristics of these individuals were published on July 21 in the Journal of Adolescent Health and include a significant finding: transgendered individuals have sex hormone levels consistent with the gender they were born with.

“We’ve now put to rest the residual belief that transgender experience is a result of a hormone imbalance,” says Olson. “It’s not.”


Researchers have identified a genetic mutation associated with the appearance of premature aging and severe loss of body fat in children.

Researchers at the Translational Genomics Research Institute (TGen) Center for Rare Childhood Disorders found that the appearance of premature aging, a neonatal form of Progeroid syndrome, in a 3-year-old girl was caused by a mutation in the gene CAV1, according to a study published in PLOS ONE. 


The human organism contains hundreds of distinct cell types that often differ from their neighbors in shape and function. To acquire and maintain its characteristic features, each cell type must express a unique subset of genes. Neurons, the functional units of our brain, develop through differentiation of neuronal precursors, a process that depends on coordinated activation of hundreds and possibly thousands of neuron-specific genes.
According to the World Health Organization, clinical depression carries the second heaviest burden of disability among all medical conditions worldwide (around 350 million people) and accounts for more than 8 percent of all U.S. years lived with disability. 

The findings of a recent study could potentially lead to new ways to predict risk for depression and treatments for the disease, using genome-wide association studies. 
A group of scientists at SISSA have proposed a quick alternative for predicting the internal dynamics of RNA molecules (how the different parts move in relation to each other). Their simple solution, which uses beads and springs, provides similar results to other, more complex and expensive techniques for analyzing molecules that are currently in use. 

Collectively, diseases of the airways such as emphysema, bronchitis, asthma, and cystic fibrosis are the second leading cause of death worldwide.

More than 35 million Americans alone suffer from chronic respiratory disease. Weizmann Institute of Science researchers have now proposed a new direction that could, in the future, lead to the development of a method for alleviating some of the suffering of these patients. The study’s findings show how it might be possible to use embryonic stem cells to repair damaged lung tissue.


The world population, which stood at 5 billion in 1950, will likely increase to 10.5 billion by 2050, meaning that the planet’s population will have doubled within the lifetimes of many people alive today.  

Beginning in the 1960s, environmental groups and their Doomsday Prophets, including Berkeley's Dr. Paul Ehrlich and current U.S. White House Science 'Czar' Dr. John Holdren, began projecting food riots and mass starvation and advocated for forced sterilization and other schemes to stave off the apocalypse.

The error-free distribution of genetic material during cell division is important for preventing the development of tumor cells. Prof. Erich Nigg’s research group at the Biozentrum, University of Basel, has uncovered a new important function of the human enzyme Plk1. It plays a significant role in monitoring chromosome segregation.