Will epigeneticist make Person of the Year?
It's not every year you read "epigenetics"
It's not every year you read "epigenetics" in a linkurl:nomination;http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,1682261,00.html for __Time's__ Person of the Year. Duke professor linkurl:Randy Jirtle;http://www.geneimprint.com/lab/ sent an email this week to __The Scientist's__ former intern Kelly Chi, letting her know that he had been nominated for __Time Magazine's__ Person of the Year. Jirtle told me over the phone this morning that he was surprised and honored, but wasn't positive why Nora Volkow, the director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse, nominated him -- though he had some ideas.
Volkow wrote that she nominated Jirtle because his "pioneering work in linkurl:epigenetics;http://www.the-scientist.com/article/display/53528/ and genomic imprinting has uncovered a vast territory in which a gene represents less of an inexorable sentence and more of an access point for the environment to modify the genome." And this work could ultimately shine light on the development of drug abuse and linkurl:addiction;http://www.the-scientist.com/article/display/53236/ behaviors, Jirtle said. "These epigenetic changes that occur early in development affect genes involved in mental disorders." While Jirtle has not targeted epigenetics of drug abuse in the past, he said he has lately been working on identifying modifications that contribute to diseases like alcoholism.
Volkow is not the first scientist to be asked to submit a recommendation. A snarky vote last year came from David Ho, the Director of the Aaron Diamond linkurl:AIDS;http://www.the-scientist.com/article/display/23586 Research Center, who won person of the year in 1996. His linkurl:recommendation;http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,1558310,00.html?iid=sphere-inline-sidebar for last year went like this:
"In 1993 Time featured the Peacemakers as Persons of the Year. This year I nominate the Peacebreakers: North Korean leader Kim Jong Il, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and, sadly, U.S. President George W. Bush. These figures are feared around the world because of their words and actions."