In this three-part series, I am introducing a brief history and phenotype of Gilles de la Tourette Syndrome. Subsequently, I will survey initial hypotheses about Tourette’s heritability, and twin and family studies.

Feature image: Brain

Table of Contents:

  1. Introduction
  2. Initial Genetic Hypotheses
  3. Twin Studies
  4. Family Studies
  5. Conclusion
  6. Abbreviations
  7. Bibliography

1. Introduction

Tourette Syndrome (TS) neurodevelopmental disorder affecting primarily children and adolescents, with 0.3–1.0% lifetime prevalence, significantly affecting their quality of life and in some cases causing a life-long disability (Elstner et al., 2001). Neurobiologically, TS causes marked abnormalities in Cortico-Striato-Thalamo-Cortical (CTSC) circuits, which are known to regulate control of motor, behavioral, and cognitive processes (Singer & Minzer, 2003), but the exact biology and pathogenesis of this disorder remains obscure.

TS was first described by Georges Gilles de la Tourette in 1885, in a collection of case histories characterized by the…

2020s will be marked by COVID19. This pandemic’s consequences will shake the very foundations of today’s society. World as we know it ended in December of 2019.

Photo by CDC on Unsplash.

On October 25th, 2019, the New York Times a report on the termination of the funding to the PREDICT program. The program, ran by the US Agency for International Development, was a part of the Emerging Pandemic Threats program, focusing on the detection and discovery of zoonotic diseases. During their decade-long operation, the PREDICT program has trained almost 7,000 people over 30 countries and strengthened laboratory systems in over 60 labs around the world to detect zoonotic disease. …

Maybe biology is not as set in stone as we are led to believe.

Defining the major misconceptions in any given field of science is often more difficult than it seems, particularly when it comes to getting down to the core of common misconceptions. For the field of biology, any number of misconceptions can be named — however, the major misconception, in my opinion, is the idea of biological rigidity.

You see, in undergraduate biology classes, we often learn the vastness of biological knowledge in a rigid fashion: DNA existing as an implicitly exclusive right-handed double stranded complementary anti-parallel helix, DNA encoding RNA encoding proteins in a forward only fashion, AUG start codon as…

There are numerous reasons a study published in a peer-reviewed journal might get retracted. Anything from obvious scientific misconduct (data fabrication) to an honest mistake, redundancy, plagiarism, or unethical research may warrant a retraction. In 2018, there have been over 1300 retractions across a wide variety of journals and scientific disciplines. Here are my top 12 in biological sciences in 2018, by month.


If you are a scientist and you haven’t paid a visit to RetractionWatch, what have you been doing your life?! It is a blog tracking and cataloging scientific retractions across dozens of fields and scientific journals into a RetractionWatch Database, published not so long ago together with an accompanying analysis in Science.

If you are not a scientist, then welcome to what could be described as academia’s walk of shame. Retraction is an action of withdrawal of a paper, usually on either journal’s or authors’ behalf, due to various reasons, that are occasionally accompanied by other types of repercussions. …

Out of curiosity (and boredom), I have collected data on presidential election votes and associated them with data on various types of mortality rates, sexually transmitted diseases, immunization rates, criminal activity, and education scores.

Please bear in mind that these graphs and summaries represent a rather simplistic statistical analysis, and linear regressions with a single independent variable usually do not adequately explain the dependent variable. But, since it’s 3AM and I have consumed too much coffee to be able to fall asleep — let’s have some fun regardless! The data is analyzed on the state level (N_max = 50).

Unless otherwise stated, all examples are fitted to simple linear models with a single independent variable (see directly below). The instances with missing data have been excluded from analysis.

Figure 1.: A mathematical representation of a simple linear model with a single independent variable.

Mortality rate due to malignant neoplasms (per 100,000) vs. people voting for Trump (%):

Don’t get me wrong, as a Ph.D. student in Genetics and Genomics program, my lab life without CRISPR would probably be orders of magnitude more difficult. No matter what kind of project I consider throwing myself into, I automatically have to consider using CRISPR either as a tool to derive experimental models or an experimental tool in a different sense altogether.

CRISPR is an essential tool for most molecular biologists — it offers high precision, it’s easy to use, freakishly cheap, extremely adjustable (you can target any one region in the genome, or multiple regions simultaneously), and amazingly versatile (you…

Franjo Ivankovic

PhD @UFGenetics , studying psychiatric genomics of Tourette Syndrome & OCD. My passion is an intersection of genetics, statistics, psychology, and anthropology

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