March 5, 01

Vol. 16 , No. 06   


View Entire Issue (Vol. 16 , No. 06)


Podlich Distinguished Fellow

Genomemania
RICHARD LEWONTIN
TUESDAY, FEBRUARY 13, 2001

Biologists and geneticists have been making great claims for the Human Genome Project to answer many if not all the mysteries of human life. Richard Lewontin, the Alexander Agassiz Research Professor of Biology at Harvard University and one of the leading geneticists of our time, has vigorously challenged these claims and attempted to show precisely what biology and evolutionary theory can and cannot explain. Attacking reductive misconceptions of genetic determinism, Lewontin has underscored the complex interractions of gene, organism, and environment in the development of life.

A brilliant scientist and writer, Lewontin has been called by Clifford Geertz "the Voltaire of the Age of the Absolute Gene." And Stephen Jay Gould has said "Lewontin is simply the smartest man I have ever met. His knowledge and broad humanistic perspective. . .give us the precious gift of access to his insights, his warnings, and his distinctive view of life." Lewontin's recent books include The Triple Helix (Harvard University Press 2000) and It Ain't Necessarily So: The Dream of the Human Genome and Other Illusions (2000). He is also the author of The Genetic Basis of Evolutionary Change (1974), Biology as Ideology: The Doctrine of DNA (1992), and The Dialectical Biologist (1985) (with Richard Levins). Professor Lewontin will be in residence at Claremont McKenna College until February 24th as a Podlich Distinguished Fellow. This year's other Podlich Fellows discussing the implications of "Darwin and Evolution" include Professors Michael Ghiselin of the California Academy of Sciences and David Hull of Northwestern University (also in residence in February) and Professor Dame Gillian Beer of Cambridge Univesity (in late March and April).