Elise Miller, MEd
The other day I was talking with a young friend who is “un-schooling,” meaning she is learning through a variety of life experiences, rather than from a traditional school curriculum. The “un-school” philosophy encourages children to initiate projects, while facilitated by adults, to maximize their education.
This got me thinking what it might mean to write an “un-appeal” letter—ideally not an unappealing letter, but one that would speak from the perspective of those who experience our work and use it as a touchstone to educate others. Since learning takes place across the lifespan, it occurred to me that instead of listing all our accomplishments to underscore how worthy CHE is of your investment, I could simply share a few unsolicited notes we recently received from those who are apparently benefitting from our services—so much so they wanted us to know how CHE is enriching their professional, and even personal, lives:
An article from Stone Hearth News is titled “Traits can be inherited, with no DNA: Columbia University Medical Center research.”
This article struck me because of its possible implications for new areas of environmental health research beyond epigenetics. The study focused on “viral-silencing agents” that can be passed down to progeny circumventing the DNA process of inheriting traits that has long dominated the science of hereditary genetics. These agents, known as viRNAs, are able to turn off a virus’ capacity to take over a cell and thereby boost the immune systems of subsequent generations. If these agents can also be influenced by exposures to environmental contaminants, such as endocrine disrupting chemicals, then this could explain why some traits, apparently not associated with the genome, could be inherited. This may mean that the important research being undertaken on gene-environment interactions may now need to include studies that focus on RNA-environment interactions.