Duana Fullwiley is a medical anthropologist who graduated in 2002 from UC Berkeley and UC San Francisco with her Ph.D. Fullwiley has conducted a multi-sited field research in the United States about the emergent technologies that measure human genetic diversity among populations and between individuals. Her main interest is how scientists promote genetic citizenship. This was Dr. Fullwiley’s second book project and explains exactly how U.S. political concepts of diversity, usually glossed as “race,” function in genetic recruitment protocols and study designs for research on complex diseases, “tailored medicine,” ancestry tracing, and personal genomics.
Dr. Fullwiley’s first book is The Encultured Gene: Sickle Cell Health Politics and Biologicalss Difference in West Africa. This book was written in 2011, and received the 2014 Robert B. Textor and Family Prize for Excellence in Anticipatory Anthropology from the American Anthropological Association, and the 2011 Amaury Talbot Prize for African Anthropology from the Royal Anthropological Institute. This book used data gathered from ethnographic fieldwork in Senegal, France, and the United States. She uses her fieldwork data and weaves together postcolonial genetic science, the effects of structural adjustment on health resources, and patient activism between Senegal and France to show how African sickle cell has been ordered in ethnic-national terms at the level of the gene.
She used to be a professor at Harvard and is now an associate professor at Stanford University teaching courses in medical anthropology and anthropology of science. She is currently in the research stages for her second book Tabula Raza: Mapping Race and Human Diversity in American Genome Science.
Raymond Pearl, Professor of Biology in the Medical School and in the School of Hygiene and Public Health of the Johns Hopkins University, died at Hershey, Pennsylvania, November 17, 1940, at the age of sixty-one years. At the age of 16 he entered Dartmouth College, expecting to make the classics his chief field of study. During his first year he was more interested in the opportunities for free activity than in his studies; a fact which was reflected in the low grades which he received. But in that first year biology was a required subject, and this opened his eyes to what became his main interest. He graduated from Dartmouth with the degree of A.B. in 1899. According to the Class Report before cited "Pearl was the youngest graduate in our class." During his senior year he was assistant in the course in general biology, of which the present writer was at that time in charge. He showed at that early period the masterful and competent personality that marked him throughout life.
In the fall of 1899, Pearl went to the University of Michigan, while for three years he was an assistant in Zoology while at work as a graduate student. He took part in the Biological Survey of Great Lakes, founded and led by the late Jacob Reighard working on variation in fishes (1900- 1902). He received in 1902 from the University of Michigan the degree of Doctor of Philosophy, at the age of twenty-three. From 1902-1906 he was a professor of Zoology at the University of Michigan. It was in the laboratory of the University of Michigan where he met Maud. M. De Witt, who became his wife. They were married in 1903, and upon his death bed she became managing editor of the journal “Human Biology”, and assistant editor of the ‘Quarterly Review of Biology”- the two journals founded and edited by Pearl. In the year of 1905-1906, Pearl he decided to enter the field of the application of statistical method of Biological problems with Karl Pearson at the University College, London. During the same visit to Europe he worked also at Leipzig and at the Marine Biological Station at Naples. Pearl returned to America in 1906, and was an instructor in Zoology at the University of Pennsylvania in 1906-1907. In 1907, he went to the University of Maine in Orono, as head of the department of Biology of the Maine Agriculture Experiment Station, remaining there until 1918. In 1918, Pearl was called at instance of Dr. William Welch, to become professor of Biometry and Vital Statistics in the newly found School of Hygiene and Public Health of John Hopkins University, where he spent the remainder of his educational career and training.
Before Pearl received his doctorate, he published a number of contributions. His dissertation was on the actions and behavior of Planarians. He next contributed a series of papers on genetic problems in lower organisms in which he worked with Karl Pearson in London. Also while in London, he finished and elaborated statistically a valuable piece of work on assortative mating in Protozoa. While at John Hopkins University, his interest in many subjects was so intense that at any given moment he might seem a partisan and propagandist of a particular method of biological science. Among the seven hundred and twelve titles (including seventeen books) in the list of Pearl’s writing hereto appended will be found contributions on the most varied fields of aspects biology or as human affairs as a division of biology. There are papers on animal behaviors, to Protozoa to man; on general physiology; many of various aspects of genetics (on abnormalities, variations on the breeding of Drosophila, of poultry, of cattle, of corn, of cantaloupes, on tongue colors in cattle, on the color hen’s eyes, etc.) There are many technical contributions on the care and breeding and fowls (fertility and diseases of fowls, plumage patterns, egg production, keep fowls free from lice, and folk-lore of hens’ eggs). Furthermore, many papers deal with the biology of man: papers on longevity and mortality, on the effects of alcohol and tobacco, on eugenics, and race culture, on the biology of superiority, the biology of death, infant mortality, and contraception.
I'm super excited that my class was funded to do 23&me. I've been wanting to do it for the past two years, but I haven't gotten around to doing it. I'm most interested in discovering my ancestry. My family has been in the United States long enough that I don't know much of my heritage. (I can actually trace every side of my family back over 100 years in the same two adjacent counties in North Alabama). There has been some circumstantial evidence that I may have Scottish in me, but that is the only European country I can name-despite my family being completely of European descent. And as every other white southerner would say, there is a rumor that my great-great grandmother was full-blooded Cherokee. I've always been fascinated by figuring out my ancestry, and having these results could give me some interesting clues.
The second part to 23&me is the health risks and traits it returns. I'm both excited and nervous about this. I don't really want to hear bad news. The things I'm most worried about are breast cancer (or any cancer for that matter) and Alzheimer's (or other forms of dementia). Both of my grandmothers have had a form of cancer, and I feel that I could be at high risk for breast or colon cancer. Something that worries me more than that though is the mental issues I may face down the road. My dad's mom and her family are also an interesting case with mental diseases. Of 6 children, 4 of the siblings (including my grandmother) have had some form of mental disease. One of my grandmother's sisters was put in a mental institute at age 20, and died there. Another sister is in the late stages of Alzheimer's, and will not be around much longer. My grandmother's brother has dementia that is getting worse with time. And my own grandmother's mind has gotten worse and worse, especially after my granddad died 3 years ago. With 4 out of 6 siblings having problems, it begs the question is it genetic? And if it is, what does that mean for me? I feel that there isn't a lot of prevention that can actually stop these mental diseases. Time will always win. So knowing now, years before it becomes an issue, just seems like torture to me. I'm very future oriented, but knowing that something bad is coming will bother me more than it will help me.
I really want to do 23&me. I'm super excited about the ancestry part, and a little apprehensive about the risks part. Talking about this to my class will be lots of fun, and I can't wait to see all the results.
Dr. Michael A. Little possesses the title of “distinguished professor” at Pennsylvania State University (where he also earned both his masters and PhD). He began his research career examining cold adaptation in the high Peruvian Andes before he began a 20 year, multidisciplinary project that studied the health, biology, and culture of pastoralists in northwest Kenya. His current work focuses mainly on documenting the history of biological anthropology mainly, through archival research. He teaches classes at PSU on comparative human growth, human biological variation, and the history of biological anthropology. In 2005, he received the Franz Boas award from the Human Biology Association and later, in 2007, received the Charles R. Darwin award from the American Association of Physical Anthropologists.
Dr. Francis E. Johnston is Professor Emeritus of Anthropology at the University of Pennsylvania, where he also earned his PhD (his masters was earned at the University of Kentucky). He specializes in the study of the development of children in Latin America, particularly in regard to nutritional status and health. He is the founder and director of the Urban Nutrition Initiative. He was President of the American Association of Physical Anthropologists from 1983 to 1985 and has been the Editor-in-Chief of The American Journal of Physical Anthropology, Human Biology, and The American Journal of Human Biology (where he was also founding editor). In 2003, he received the Charles Darwin Lifetime Achievement Award of the American Association of Physical Anthropologists.
Human Biology and Its History
Middle Ages: the earliest form of human biology begins with the study of cadavers to determine bodily structure
1924: Raymond Pearl is the first modern scholar to use the term human biology
Discussion: Since this chapter focuses only on the history of American human biology (due to space restrictions), what kind of biases do you think could be present, if any?
1850-1940s: the measurement and description of past and present humans in the form of a typology is popular
Typologies can be problematic since they represent more of an idealized image than reality.
Eugenics arguing for the superiority of Western Europeans were popular at the time
It was believed that all races were: 1) fixed, 2) came from three primary races, and 3) were one of the primary races or a mixture of two or three primary races
1897: Franz Boaz measured the heads of migrants and their children, showing that the environment and plasticity were important factors in variation
He stated that race and culture were separate
1950: The new phase of physical anthropology begins with a conference held by Theodosius Dobzhansky and Sherwood Washburn
The use of the scientific method in the study of evolutionary theory became the new focus of this phase of anthropology
1950: Races: A study of the Problem of Race Formation in Man, written by Carleton Coon, Stanley Garn, and Joseph Birdsell, argues that racial categories formed to the conditions of the environment via natural selection
Race was seen as ever-changing instead of static
Currently: race is no longer a subject of study, with the exception of clarifying misusages of the term that lead to discrimination. Human variation is viewed as dynamic.
Discussion: What are some current examples of the misuse of the concept of race? How are these examples different from misusages in the past?
1950s: Bodily adaptation to the environment is viewed as happening largely in terms of adaptation to climate (particularly temperature extremes)
1960s—1970s: The International Council of Scientific Unions (ICSU) implemented the International Biological Programme (IBP)
Human adaptability studies were a part of this, though the more scientifically inclined methodology of the research kept some human biologists from participating
Ecosystems science (a combination of ecology and the mathematical study of systems science) became popular
The physiological measurements that were also taken at this time allowed for the study of how populations adapt biobehaviorally to the environment
Many of the projects conducted by the human adaptability section of the IBP were multidisciplinary projects
Discussion: What are the advantages and disadvantages of a large-scale study such as the human adaptability research at the IBP?
1860’s- Mendel experiments with peas to develop the laws of segregation and independent assortment
Explores dominance in alleles
Compares genotype to phenotype
1927-1930- JBS Haldane and Robert Fisher expressed evolution as the aggregate effect of interactions between mutations, gene flow, selection, and genetic drift
Integrated Darwinian theory, population genetics, and advanced mathematical analyses
Let to the rise of the two modern approaches to the interpretation of patterns of gene frequency
One focuses on natural selection
One focuses on the stochastic processes of genetic drift and gene flow
1900- Karl Landsteiner provides first description of human ABO blood type groups
Discovery of these and other antigens revolutionized immunology and segued into the study of human population genetics
Later found that the frequencies of these antigens are shaped, at least in a small degree, by natural selection
1950- William Boyd argues against the use of anthropometry
Wanted scientists to focus on genetics that were not shaped by environment
Still believed in race as a true biological category
1958- Frank B. Livingstone analyzes the distribution and dynamics of the hemoglobin S (sickle-cell) gene
1987- National Institutes of Health begin the Human Genome Project
Review and Discussion
Darwin’s description of natural selection was not complete until Mendel completed his work with the pea plants
Where do you stand on the issue of the main force behind evolution? Do you agree with E.B. Ford who argues that genetic polymorphism is maintained by selection and that gene frequencies are kept in equilibrium by opposing selective forces? Would you say that population demographics like age structure, mortality rates, sex ratio, and migration/immigration patterns have the strongest impact on the genetic variability within a population?
The Modern Trends
Most of the study of human genetics has been at the level of DNA
The Human Genome Project focuses mainly on alleles considered responsible for disease
What else could be studied through the mapping of the human genome?
What portion of disease patterns do you consider to be affected by genetics and what portion of the pattern is affected by culture/environment?
Growth and Development
1948- Wilton M. Krogman starts to study the “whole child” and is considered the “father” of growth studies in America
1970- Though incorrect, Rose Frisch developed a hypothesis about the relationship between a “critical weight” and menarche in young females, thus sparking the interest in reproductive ecology popular in the 1980’s
1986- Elizabeth Watts introduces an evolutionary perspective to the study of human growth
Review and Discussion
Franz Boas is considered the first to emphasize longitudinal studies when examining growth and development?
Why had few people done these before? What are the benefits? Do the benefits outweigh the numerous complications?
The new interest in human growth also opened new avenues on exploring the interactions between biology and the environment
Human ecology emerges, initiating studies that examine the physical changes that occur in people who live in extreme conditions
The exploration into the sub-division of reproductive ecology led to the discovery of the many environmental (and cultural) variables that influence reproduction and infant care
What framework were anthropologists previously using to examine reproduction?
The thrifty phenotype
First appears in the early 90’s
Based on the concept of developmental plasticity
States that some adult diseases can be associated with earlier growth patterns
How do you feel about the accuracy of this hypothesis? How could it be tested?
~1960- Albert Damon describes the health significance in variations in physique
Review and Discussion
Four related factors that culminate in the discipline known as “biomedical anthropology"
The plasticity of human variability
Concept of “risk factors” refined by the field of epidemiology
Primary affiliation of many “human biologist” with the medical or dental industries
How would having a medical background assist a physical anthropologist? Could it be a hindrance? Or does it not really make a significant difference?
The emergence of Darwinian (evolutionary) medicine
Examines the evolutionary aspects of contemporary human diseases
Includes “diseases of civilization,” representative of the fact that early adaptations to preindustrial life have become maladaptive in a contemporary, urban society
The book lists obesity, cardiovascular disease, and sudden infant death syndrome as examples, can you think of any others?
The realization of functional lifestyle changes that occur in immigrant populations
Focuses particularly on stress arising from culture shock and a change in social structure
Can culture also “cure” some of these stresses by providing a new form of adaptation?