Towson, MD – Dr. Herbert Lubs is a pioneer in the field of medical genetics. A graduate of the Yale School of Medicine in 1954, Dr. Lubs served as its first director of the genetics division in internal medicine and director of the private diagnostic clinic. Now retired, Dr. Lubs reflects on a career spanning a half-century dedicated to solving the mystery of mental retardation and related genetic diseases.
“Genetics is not taught in most medical schools as a required course like internal medicine or surgery is, but it spreads out through everything,” says Dr. Lubs.
In 1953, Drs. James Watson and Francis Crick published their landmark paper asserting that the chemical structure of DNA met the unique requirements for a substance that could encode genetic information. Biology now possessed a molecular and biochemical basis.
“I was still a medical student when Watson and Crick published. It was a clear that a major revolution in biology and medicine would follow. Dr. Francis Crick’s presentation at Yale in 1954 was spellbinding!” recalls Dr. Lubs. “It was just the excitement of a whole new field of medicine. It meant a whole new field of research and a whole new set of possibilities. And we had a whole organized set of biology to start from.”
“People are generally familiar with Downs syndrome, but there are thousands of causes of mental retardation, some genetic and some environmental, and they're all different,” says Dr. Lubs. “The brain is so complicated that anything can be hit at any point and you end up with a brain that isn't normal. Fortunately, in genetics diseases are much more clearly defined. We can understand causes and effects and use that to counsel families to make the most informed decisions.”
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