Ruth Müller and Mark Hanson: Epigenetic inheritance and the responsibility for health in society

In a commentary for the biomedical journal The Lancet Diabestes & Endocrinology, Ruth Müller, Professor of Science and Technology Policy at MCTS and the School of Life Sciences Weihenstephan, and Prof. Mark Hanson, President of the International Society for the Developmental Origins of Health and Disease recently discussed how epigenetics might change notions of responsibility for health in society.

Epigenetics is a field of molecular biology that links the environment and the genome in novel ways. It helps us trace how environmental exposures and life experiences affect gene expression and influence disease risks – possibly across generations. In their commentary „Epigenetic inheritance and the responsibility for health in society“, Prof. Müller and Prof. Hanson warn that in the current litature and media debate „deterministic perspectives [often] stand in the way of adequately responding to the complex questions epigenetics raises about how to distribute responsibility for health disparities in society“. They hence argue for „a complex and nuanced approach to the question of the social transmission of, and responsibility for, health and disease“.

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