Are You What Your Mother Ate?

Randy Jirtle and Rob Waterland’s Agouti Mouse Study has been called one of the most important study’s of the 21st century, not only for its significance for our understanding of the relationship between our genetic Nature and environmental Nurture but, most importantly, for our understanding of the epigenetic mechanisms that change gene expression in both lab mice and, by extension, human beings.

The film combines extensive interview footage of Professor Randy Jirtle and original laboratory footage to both tell the story of the Agouti Mouse Study and consider its implications for our understanding of the relationship between our genetic and environmental influences.

The 14-minute film is divided into three discrete but related sections:

1. The Context of the Agouti Mouse Study outlines the development of an epigenetic approach to our understanding of disease.

2. The Experiment takes a closer look at the actual mechanics of the Agouti Study and how it demonstrated a causal pathway between a mother animal’s environment and the expression of her offspring’s genetic code (and, in the process, overturned a century’s scientific belief about how genetics worked).

3. The final section, Reactions and Implications, looks at both the impact of the study and its revolutionary implications for how we understand the relationship between our genes and our physical and social environments.

Although mainly of interest to psychology teachers and students, the film may also be useful to sociologists seeking a clearer understanding of the different ways the expression of our genetic inheritance can be modified by epigenetic environmental changes.

I would like to see this video disseminated to a large audience because it so clearly shows what our agouti mouse study accomplished. It truly ushered in the era of environmental epigenomics, which markedly changed the way we view the genesis of disease formation.”
Professor Randy Jirtle

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