Restless genes

Alan J. Robinson robin073 at
Sat Sep 23 08:35:56 EST 1995

On Fri, 22 Sep 1995 18:50:32 GMT, 
Eric Wassermann  <ewass at > wrote:

>That's why I love usenet.  You learn something new every day.

It's like sex education, Eric - there are many modalities of 
instruction - just think of Usenet as like learning about sex on the 
playground at school.

It's really quite surprising how many leading biomedical scientists 
don't understand that diseases like manic depression are polygenic.  
In Feb of 1994 I wrote a letter about the Dana Consortium research 
into the genetics of manic depression to Koshland at Science and 
copied a whole bunch of people including Watson.  I tried to point out 
nicely that didn't know what the <expletive deleted> they were doing.  
I didn't expect them to print my letter, and they didn't.

But several months later a whole special issue of Science appeared on 
the Genetics of Behavior (Science 264 Jun 17), and it answered 
a number of my criticisms, even down to using unique terminology that 
I had used in my letter.  In one article they refered to the classical 
model of genetic disorders as the OGOD model - one gene, one disease - 
I didn't realize until yesterday that the acronym had another meaning 

There are several basic results which quite clearly show the polygenic 
nature of these disorders - the concordance rate for manic depression 
in identical twins (80%) is much higher than the rate for fraternal 
twins (20%);  monoamine oxidase levels (which are correlated with 
many disorders) are under the control of at least 5 genetic loci;  the 
nervousness trait in mice is under the control of at least 3 
loci (just published in Science).

PS: I always thought the "hands on" lab work was the best part of sex 


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