Environmental epigenetics engages with the social context of both individuals and populations. Studies investigate, for example, how socio-economic status, exercise habits, diet or experiences of trauma might influence biological processes at the molecular level. This has created great interest among social scientists and scholars in the humanities as it raises a number of questions at the intersection of the natural sciences, the social sciences and the humanities: for example, how to conceptualize the social environment in a laboratory context. To explore research areas at these intersections and assess the potential social and political implications of environmental epigenetics, international scholars from the life sciences, social sciences and humanities met in January 2017 in Munich, Germany. This article presents some of the main findings from these interdisciplinary discussions. We conclude that environmental epigenetics has great potential for elucidating how human society affects human biology, but we caution against over-simplified translations from social structures to biological processes and vice versa.
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- health inequalities
- genome expression