Talk:Barbara McClintock/Draft

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 Definition (1902 – 1992) - American cytogeneticist who won a Nobel Prize in 1983 for the discovery of genetic transposition. [d] [e]
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How are the first names of Almiro Blumenschen and Kato spelled? The National Library of Medicine has their names written differently from the citizendium article. However, I believe the NLM photos are user submitted so that would explain the mistake. I just wanted to explain if anyone noticed. Maybe it would be good to double check.

Eric Pokorny 16:20, 8 December 2006 (CST)

How harsh were the critic?

Read the following from NIH

Whether or not McClintock's proposal for a system of controlling elements in maize was applicable to genetic systems in other species was a different matter. This was the great question, one that would continue to propel her research. In summer 1951, she reported on her work on gene mutability in maize at the annual symposium at Cold Spring Harbor. By the time of this meeting, her work on the transposition of maize genes, the moving of genetic material from one part of a chromosome to another, had been confirmed by researchers Royal Alexander Brink and Robert A. Nilan of the University of Wisconsin. That discovery was not her focus; McClintock used most of her talk to discuss her ideas of controlling elements as gene regulators. According to popular stories that have circulated about the symposium, the scientists treated McClintock's theories with indifference. As historian Evelyn Fox Keller has written, McClintock's work was greeted with "stony silence." Yet such interpretations of this historic symposium might be unwarranted, according to those who were there. As Nobel Laureate Joshua Lederberg wrote in 1983, "Barbara McClintock would not have been invited to the 1951 symposium unless the organizers had some glimmer of the importance of her work." Furthermore, perhaps historians have confused professional recognition of McClintock's role in genetics, which had been steady since the early 1930s, with an almost complete lack of public recognition. "Between 'stony silence' and 'instant appreciation,'" Lederberg argued, "is the reality of how to integrate the startling evidence she presented into a coherent scheme. That was hardly possible before...the science of molecular biology caught up with [McClintock]. Perhaps some of the biochemists in the 50s were not well versed in maize genetics and it is their voices [we] hear."

Given that version of events i think the following sentence:

The hostility towards McClintock's novel discoveries in gene regulation may well have had little or nothing to do with sex discrimination, but instead been generated by the very forces that she herself had ascribed: the inability of the scientific community to accept a revolutionary concept 'before its time'.

This is from the legacy section and probably needs to toned down a bit. Is there any hard evidence that there was hostility to her work? That is a strong statement. I also question if her ideas were 'before their time' with respect to gene regulation. Even today her ideas of controlling elements are limited to a few examples and it is not generally applicable. Likewise, is it accurate to say that:

McClintock's research on transposition became appreciated in the 1960s and 1970s, after other researchers confirmed the mechanisms of genetic change and genetic regulation

At that point in time I don't think anyone accepted the regulation aspect of the work. That came much later with the realisation that some transposons, such as Spm, were controlling gene expression in an epigenetic way (local changes in chromatin structure). What do you think? Chris Day (Talk) 00:17, 9 December 2006 (CST)

Here are two quotes from Raju TN. The Nobel chronicles. 1983: Barbara McClintock (1902-92). [Biography. Historical Article. Journal Article] Lancet. 354(9194):2007, 1999 Dec 4. UI: 10622337 “When she presented this theory of transposition of genes at a symposium, it was neither understood nor accepted by her colleagues. "They called me crazy, absolutely mad at times", she would recall dryly.”

“McClintock grew up facing sexual bias all her life. According to her, the University of Missouri was particularly "awful, awful, awful". At a press conference after the Nobel Prize she said, "You don't need the public recognition; you just need the respect of your colleagues".”

We might say in the article that it’s only her opinion that her views were met by hostility (that’s her word, by the way) and that she really was accepted fully, and that she had the respect of her colleagues since she did get awards and achieved success, and she herself only thought otherwise. I think that would be quite shabby of us, and impertinent to her. There is a big difference between being comfortably accepted and being isolated, yet allowed to work, tolerated as a separate category of professional. She describes the latter experience at Missouri quite clearly. Even at Cornell she wasn’t even allowed to graduate with a degree in genetics.

She herself felt the reception to her ideas was harsh, so harsh that she stopped publishing them.

I think the article as it stands captures the fact that she did face sexual bias and that her views (probably because they were both unconventional and avant garde) were treated in a way that stopped her from publishing them. I think that the article is already very toned down and neutral in point of view.

Do you think it would be more accurate to say that her work on transposable elements was not appreciated until the 70’s and 80’s? I think that’s probably right, and I changed it. Regards. Nancy Sculerati MD 02:33, 9 December 2006 (CST)

I'll start with the easy one. Her work on transposition was always appreciated by the maize community. I would say it was overlooked by the rest of the scientific community, not particularly a snub but a lack of interest. This should not be a surprise as it happened recently with gene silencing too. The appreciation of her work in the 70's was due to the fact her work was now more generally applicable rather than a plant oddity. It is easy to paint this a snub of her work but it is not that simple.
With regard to the use of the word "harsh" we need to consider what she was referring to. I don't have an idea since I have not seen her use of "harsh" in context. Clearly she was discriminated against at Missouri. She was not welcomed as an equal, and that treatment was certainly harsh, but did this have anything to do with her work? Was her discovery of transposons ever treated with harsh criticism? Indifference for sure, but harsh? The one point where criticism may have been harsh would have been in reviews of her work with respect to the function of transposons. But, bear in mind, who does not think their negative reviews are harsh? Were hers more harsh than normal reviews? Her ideas were basically wrong after all, so obviously reviews would be pretty negative with respect to her interpretation of the data. I don't believe people were standing up at conferences and verablly assaulting her. Now that would have been harsh.
With that said, i think the use of the word harsh in this article paints a picture of a scientific community against her work as a whole. I don't think was the reality. She was no Peter Duesberg, who I would consider gets harsh critcism. Chris Day (Talk) 11:49, 9 December 2006 (CST)

yes, I agree with you. Better to tone it down, at least make it more open to interpretation.Nancy Sculerati MD 20:39, 9 December 2006 (CST)

I fixed that "first genetic map" mistake. I'll have to fix it in biology, unless someone already has. I had been trying to confirm my rash statement and had come across the following, before David Tribe's message on my user page. “The first gene to be mapped to a specific chromosome in any species was probably the one for colorblindness. In 1911, cytologist E. B. Wilson 14 concluded that the characteristic pedigree pattern of this trait, described by Pliny Earle in Philadelphia, Pa, in 1845 15 and by Friedrich Horner in Zurich, Switzerland, in 1876, was explained if the trait is recessive, the gene is on the X chromosome, and humans have a female-XX/male-XY sex chromosome constitution.” McKusick VA. The anatomy of the human genome: a neo-Vesalian basis for medicine in the 21st century. [Historical Article. Journal Article] JAMA. 286(18):2289-95, 2001 Nov 14. UI: 11710895 Of course, a sex-linked gene is not a "map".

Perhaps you (Chis Day and David Tribe) might look at biology and put in the accurate information. I reserve the right to try to integrate your edits into some kind of cohesive essay, but I do think that the concept of a genetic map is an important part of the themes selected there to try to "illustrate" biology. thanks, Nancy Sculerati MD 08:13, 10 December 2006 (CST)

Approval time

Congratulations. Have done a copy edit, think this is an excellent articleGareth Leng 03:49, 13 December 2006 (CST)

I think that, unless some significant new edits are made, we can let approving editors replace the URL-to-approve with the most recent copyedited versions. --Larry Sanger 03:57, 13 December 2006 (CST)

Ive adjusted the URL above to point to the most recent copy edited one in line with Larry's comment above.

I now realize the best place for the approval template is on the talk page (ie HERE) . It avoids some confusion about recursive pointing when it on the article itself. I will thus remove the duplicate pointer template on the top copy and see how we go. I presusume sysop will just follow the link

David Tribe 05:03, 13 December 2006 (CST)

Why doesn't this article appear as an approved article? It should.Nancy Sculerati MD 18:04, 15 December 2006 (CST)

Done! --Larry Sanger 18:45, 15 December 2006 (CST)

I do not think the approval template should go on the talk page. The user should find it more easily. I also think the names of the approving editors should go on the article page in a prominent way, and I do not see them.

Approval template problem

I just noticed that the approval template sorts people under their first name rather than their last name. We probably need a different template for people. Or an option to place the last name as a choice to be used for sorting. Chris Day (Talk) 00:43, 19 February 2007 (CST)


Technically all the photos that are in the NLM display are copyrighted - they just don't know who owns that copyright. Being the author of the wp page - I'm acutely aware that there are no PD images of her available.--Peta Holmes 22:17, 4 March 2007 (CST)