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Lee Silver

Professor of Molecular Biology and Public Affairs

My laboratory research involves the search for variable genes in mice that strongly influence natural variation in certain traits of social behavior, including male-male aggression and female-female social bonding. This research could provide insight into a biological component of human variability in social behavior. I am also writing a book that explores the public debate over biotechnology, including plant-, animal-, and human-affecting applications. I argue that much of the opposition to biotechnology – from the left, right, and middle of the political spectrum – is based not on a rational evaluation of costs, risks, and benefits, but rather on a covert or unconscious fear that, by its very nature, biotechnology infringes upon the soul or spirit of human beings as well as the soul or spirit of other organisms and systems of life. I argue that we must address these fears head-on in the context of an open and reasoned debate about a technology that can bring about enormous benefit as well as enormous harm.

Representative policy-oriented publications

Silver, L.M. (2003). "Biotechnology and Conceptualizations of the Soul," Cambridge Quarterly of Healthcare Ethics 12, 335-341.

Silver, L.M. (2001). "Confused Meanings of Life, Genes and Parents," Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences 32: 647-661.

Silver, L.M. (2001). "Popular Cloning versus Scientific Cloning in Ethical Debates," New York University Journal of Legislation and Public Policy 4: 47-57.

Silver, L.M. (2000). "Reprogenetics: Third Millennium speculation: The consequences for humanity when reproductive biology and genetics are combined," EMBO Reports 1: 375-378.

Lanza, R.P., Caplan, A.L., Silver, L.M., Cibelli, J.B., West, M.D. & Green, R.M. (2000). "The ethical validity of using nuclear transfer in human transplantation," Journal of the American Medical Association, 284: 3175-3179.

Silver, L.M. (1999). "How Reprogenetics Will Transform the American Family," Hofstra Law Review 27: 649-658.

Silver, L.M. (1999). "The Meaning of Genes and Genetic Rights". Jurimetrics: The Journal of Law, Science, and Technology (Quarterly journal of the American Bar Association Section on Science and Technology) 40: 9-19.

Silver, L.M. (1999). "Reprogenetic Technologies and the Forces that Will Drive Their Use," Annual Review of Law and Ethics 7: 3-12.

Silver, L.M. & Silver, S.R. (1998). "Confused Heritage and the Absurdity of Genetic Ownership," Harvard Journal of Law & Technology 11: 593-618.

Silver, L.M. (1998). "Cloning, Ethics, and Religion,"Camb Quart. Healthcare Ethics 7: 168-72.

Silver, L.M. (1998). "Remaking Eden: How Genetic Engineering and Cloning will Transform the American Family" {revised paperback edition of "Remaking Eden: Cloning and Beyond in a Brave New World" supplemented with a new 15 page Afterward} (Avon Books, New York).

Representative science-oriented publications

Bruce, A.E.E., Howley, C., Zhou, Y., Vickers, S.L., Silver, L.M., King, M.L., and Ho, R.K. (2003). "The maternally expressed zebrafish T-box gne, eomesodermin, regulates organizer formation," Development 130, 5503-5517.

Brodkin, E.S., Goforth, S.A., Keene, A., Fossella, J.; Silver, L.M. (2002). "Identification of quantitative trait loci that affect aggressive behavior in mice," Journal of Neuroscience 22: 1155-1170.

Peirce, J.L., Derr, R., Shendure, J., Kolata, T. , Silver, L.M. (1998). "A major influence of sex-specific loci on alcohol preference in C57BL/6 and DBA/2 inbred mice," Mammal. Genome 9: 942-948.

Derr, R.L., Peirce, J.L., Silver, L.M. (1998). "Genetics of Alcohol Consumption in the House Mouse," Zoological Studies 37: 31-38.