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Chapter 26 : Genetics in Action
This chapter talks about an article that was originally published in the Smithsonian magazine in February 2006. It tells the story of the work of a medical geneticist, D. Holmes Morton, among the Amish and Mennonites in Pennsylvania. Using his knowledge of medicine, some rare conditions he had studied, and basic genetics, Morton has solved several medical mysteries. The article tells his story, the stories of some of the mysteries he solved, and that of the clinic he founded and describes doing genetics among the Anabaptists of Pennsylvania. The article refers to two great historical figures in medicine: the scientist Louis Pasteur and the humanitarian Albert Schweitzer. About two years after Sara Glick's death, Morton, Strauss, clinic lab director Erik Puffenberger, who holds a doctorate in genetics, and researcher Vicky Carlton from the University of California at San Francisco located the precise genetic site of the bile-salt transporter disorder, and devised a test that could tell doctors whether an infant might have it. But Morton's approach to identifying and treating a disease is more than mere genetics. On being notified of the prize, Morton began to read about Schweitzer and found that the great German physician also came to medicine late, after a distinguished career in music and theology—and that he had established his famed hospital in Gabon at age 38, the same age Morton was when he began the clinic in Strasburg.