Practical and Ethical Problems in Human Genetics

  • Kurt Hirschhorn


The past 20 years, and more particularly, the past five or ten years have seen an exponential growth of scientific technology. The chemical structure of the hereditary material, as well as its language, have essentially been resolved. Cells can be routinely grown in test tubes by tissue culture technics. The exact biochemical mechanisms of many hereditary disorders have become clarified. Computer programs for genetic analysis are in common use. All of these advances and many others have inevitably led to discussions and suggestions for the modification of human heredity, both in individuals and in populations. This has been called genetic engineering. Among the many recent articles on this subject three of the most challenging are by the Nobel Prize winning geneticist Joshua Lederberg,(1) by the world’s leading experts on evolution, Theodosius Dobzhansky,(2) and by Bernard Davis.(3)


Ethical Problem Double Dose Unborn Child Polygenic Inheritance Amniotic Fluid Sample 
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  1. 1.
    Lederberg, J.: Experimental genetics and human evolution. American Naturalist 100: 519, 1966.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. 2.
    Dobzhansky, T.: Changing man. Science 155:409, 1967.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. 3.
    Davis, B. D.: Prospects for genetic intervention in man. Science 170:1279, 1970.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. 4.
    Weiss, M. C. and Green, H.: Human-mouse hybrid cell lines containing partial complements of human chromosomes and functioning human genes. Proc. Nat. Acad. Sci. (Wash.) 58:1104, 1967.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. 5.
    Li, C. C.: The diminishing jaw of civilized people. Amer. J. Hum. Genet. 13:1, 1960.Google Scholar

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© Plenum Press, New York 1976

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  • Kurt Hirschhorn

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