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This Week in Science: Oct 7, 2016

This week's Science features a look at the connection between genetics and the environment, presented in four reviews and an editorial by the journal's Editor-in-Chief Jeremy Berg. In the first review, a team from the University of Pennsylvania discusses key genetic adaptations that have enabled humans to survive in very different parts of the world — including ones related to height, malarial resistance, elevation, and ultraviolet light exposure — and touch on research that is needed to better understand these adaptations and variations.

In the second review, a pair of scientists from the University of Cambridge examines non-DNA sequence-based inheritance, a phenomenon found in a variety of organisms, but one that has been challenging to study in humans. Meanwhile, in a third review, a duo from the University of California, Berkeley, and the Broad Institute discusses the effects of transcriptional and epigenetic processes on the immune system, touching on how new technologies are helping researchers uncover how the cellular environment can alter cell identity and function.

Finally, an international team of scientists examines the genetic and environmental factors contributing to type II diabetes and obesity, looking at such factors as lifestyle factors, birth weight, and the gut microbiome. And in a related editorial, Berg highlights the complexity of genetic and environmental interactions as they relate to human disease, as well as the challenges studying them.

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