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July 20, 1901


JAMA. 1901;XXXVII(3):203. doi:10.1001/jama.1901.02470290049012

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There is perhaps no more interesting and no more difficult problem in biology than the question as to the transmissibility of acquired characters. It seems not impossible that a compromise answer will afford—here as elsewhere—the true solution, to the effect, namely, that such characters as are purely local are not transmissible by heredity, while those that represent a permanent change in the organism as a whole may be so transmitted, providing, of course, they have developed prior to conception. Thus, the loss of a member or the development of a neoplasm would not be capable of hereditary transmission, nor would disease as such, because of its temporary quality. It may be stated as a general proposition that disease as such is not hereditary, that which may be transmitted by heredity being a certain predisposition or susceptibility on the part of the cells of the organism. Disease in the fetus is

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