Sarah Tishkoff, UPenn geneticist, on a rampage to destroy the reputation of the man who identified Allan-Herndon-Dudley disease
North Carolina 1944, three scientists William Allan, C. Nash Herndon, and Florence Dudley, clinicians at the research lab at Bowman Gray School of Medicine, part of Wake Forest University, identified a rare brain disorder.
As described by biologicalsciences.org at the University of Chicago, Biological Sciences Division. AHDS is a “brain development disorder that causes severe intellectual disability and problems with movement.”
Defects in this gene result in a complex syndrome in males, combining thyroid hormone deficiency in the brain and excess in peripheral tissues. Usually diagnosed in early childhood, the lack of MCT8 in the blood-brain barrier reduces the availability of thyroid hormone to brain cells, which is critical for human brain development and function. This leads to serious intellectual disability and problems with speech and movement. Most affected children do not walk or talk.
As noted in their first paper on the disease, 1942, the disease seemed to affect rural whites of Scotch, English and German descent. And the victims were almost exclusively males.
From litfl.com bio on Florence Dudley:
The patients had hypotonia at birth, but otherwise appeared normal. By 6 months, they developed an inability to hold up the head, leading to the family’s description of the patients as having a ‘limber-neck.’ Motor development was markedly reduced, few ever walked, and most had generalized muscular atrophy, joint contractures, and hyporeflexia as adults.
The disease was eventually named after the trio: Allan-Herndon-Dudley Syndrome.
Major progress was made in 2004 when then graduate student Alexandra Dumitrescu, MD, PhD, working in the lab of Samuel Refetoff, MD:
showed that AHDS was caused by mutations in the thyroid hormone transporter MCT8 gene located on the X-chromosome…
Currently no cures for AHDS but researchers are working on treatments to make affects less severe
Continuing from Univ. of Chicago Biological Division:
“There currently are no successful therapies for treating the neurological symptoms that occur as a result of this condition,” said Clive Svendsen, PhD, co-author of the study, professor of Biomedical Sciences and Medicine, and executive director of the Cedars-Sinai Board of Governors Regenerative Medicine Institute. “However, we’re finding gene therapies to be a promising new way to treat developmental neurological disorders, like AHDS.”
Woke crowd led by Tishkoff and board giddy over Allan being erased
On January 24, the American Society for Human Genetics stripped William Allan of all his titles and apologized for any past associations with the geneticist. The ASHG hired an outside consulting firm to evaluate past alleged discrimination against Afro-ethnic Americans. The firm identified the ASHG as too white-dominated. 67% of board members are European ethnics. Also, the consulting firm identified ASHG as having a history of past associations with efforts that allegedly hurt Afro-ethnics, specifically, “the organization’s silence when genetics was used to justify discrimination against Black people.”
From Science.org, Jan. 24,
Human geneticists apologize for past involvement in eugenics, scientific racism
The findings are “painful” but need to be shared widely, says Brendan Lee, a pediatrician and a geneticist at Baylor College of Medicine and president of ASHG, which has some 8000 members…
“It’s been a long time coming,” adds Sarah Tishkoff, a geneticist at the University of Pennsylvania and member of an expert panel that helped guide the report. “And much needed.”
The consulting firm also uncovered past associations of some of ASHG’s board members with the eugenics movement. According to Science.org:
“William Allen (sic), a prominent geneticist who promoted sterilization of individuals with “undesirable traits…”
Allan, Herndon, made major contributions to finding a cure for Retinitis Pigmentosa
“Good old retinitis pigmentosa we can to go town on, since it is 100% hereditary.”
From aao.org on eye health:
RP is a genetic condition, meaning it can be passed down in families. The type and speed of vision loss from RP varies from person to person. It depends on their form of the condition.
From nature.com, “Eugenics to medical genetics.” 2013:
Allan knew how desperate some people were to prevent hereditary diseases from being passed down. During his lifetime, he answered hundreds of letters from people with questions about genetics. Some wanted to know if they could marry first or third cousins; others wanted to know if asthma should prevent them from having a child. The letters came from as close by as Greensboro and as far away as New Mexico, and Allan answered them all.
So, as a result, according to Science, Allen will no longer be titled by the organization.
One immediate action ASHG plans to take is to suspend naming its awards after past scientists, given the problematic history of several of them. The society’s most prestigious award, for example, is named after William Allen (sic)…
Of Special Note to readers of this site: one of the winners of the William Allan Award was pioneer evolutionary geneticist and race realist Luca Cavalli-Sforza in 1987. Geneticist Spencer Wells, best known for his 4-part PBS series Journey of Man, was his PhD student. We reached out to Wells for a comment, but received no reply.
As Resta notes:
William Allan and his protege C. Nash Herndon, who established the country’s first medical genetics clinic in North Carolina and made significant contributions to medical genetics as a clinical practice and as a profession…. Herndon, and Allan thought they were doing good, not bad; they probably never thought to ask for forgiveness. History and people are complicated. No one is a saint, not even the saints. No doubt in 50 years someone will look back with a similarly critical eye on how the genetic profession practices today.
But Tishkoff and other left/woke prominent ASHG members are giving no consideration to historical context. From Science:
Vence Bonham, a social scientist and acting deputy director of the National Human Genome Research Institute, applauded the report and the apology from ASHG’s leadership. “They really try to articulate some of the challenges and the issues that the field has had,” he says. “This is part of their responsibility to continue to take efforts to make the field more diverse…
“You have to acknowledge, address, and understand this history in order to progress and change things and to do better in the future,” Tishkoff says.
Note – Science and the article’s author Rodrigo Pérez Ortega from Mexico, repeatedly misspells George Allan’s name as “Allen.” We also reached out to Sarah Tishkoff, but have not received any comment.
FOR MORE INFORMATION ON RETINITIS PIGMENTOSA – NIH.gov eye health