Advocate, Vol. 42, No. 2 (Spring/Summer 2008), pp. 8-12


Do our ancestors’ experiences from several generations ago play a role in our current health? Could a famine or a period of food abundance experienced by our grandfathers affect whether we are currently obese or likely to develop diabetes? Can being the grandchildren of those who suffered through genocide or intense racial discrimination affect levels of certain chemicals in our brains even if we are not exposed to the same social stresses? In other words, do we biologically inherit the “memories” of past generations independent of changes to our ancestors’ genetic code or DNA? Assistant Professor Fazal Khan explores how certain environmental exposures experienced by our ancestors can affect our health a couple of generations later, independent of our genetic sequence, and some implications for future tort laws.