Montana State University

UT professor lectures on nature vs. nurture in postgenomic era April 4 at MSU

March 23, 2016

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MSU News Service
Tel: (406) 994-4571

A free public lecture exploring the nature verses nurture debate 15 years after completing the human genome sequence will be given at 3 p.m. on Monday, April 4, in 102 Reid Hall at Montana State University.

Sahotra Sarkar, professor in the Departments of Philosophy and Integrative Biology at the University of Texas at Austin, will present "Nature and Nurture in the Postgenomic Era."

Sarkar will discuss the basis of the Human Genome Project, which was the idea that genes are the primary causal factors for an organisms' traits, including the complex behavioral and disease-related traits in humans. Yet, Sarkar notes that 15 years after the announcement of a completed human genome sequence, genomics seems to have contributed little to the dissection of these traits. Instead, it has only underscored the complexities of organismic development that were part of the repertoire of the critics of the Human Genome Project when it was first proposed. The new field of epigenetics has emerged to study the role of inheritance that goes beyond DNA sequence. Sarkar will discuss what this all means for the traditional nature-nurture dispute within philosophy.

A philosopher of science, Sarkar is known for his work on reductionism and criticism of hereditarian thinking in biology as well as the use of informational concepts in molecular biology.

Sarkar's lecture is sponsored by the Department of History and Philosophy and is presented by the College of Letters and Science's Distinguished Speakers Series. The series, which began in the spring of 2011, brings distinguished scholars to MSU to give a public talk and to meet with faculty and students in order to enrich the intellectual life on campus and to enhance research connections.

For more information about this and other L&S Distinguished Speakers Series lectures, please call 994-4288.

Jody Sanford (406)994-7791,