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The Biology of Heritable Memories

Can we inherit memories? This controversial idea, which goes back to antiquity, was rejected since it violates a fundamental dogma known as “The Second Law of Biology”. Traits acquired during life should not become heritable. Your children won’t know the content of the books you read, right? However, we discovered using worms that acquired traits can become inherited nevertheless. Not via DNA, but via inheritance of RNA molecules which obey different rules altogether. Most incredibly, we found that small RNAs made in the parents’ brain control the genes and behavior of the progeny, challenging basic concepts in genetics and evolution. Prof. Oded Rechavi’s mission is to challenge fundamental long-held dogmas. He found an exception to the original “Cell Theory”, provided the first direct evidence that an acquired trait can be inherited (via small RNA molecules, not via DNA changes), discovered a mechanism that allows nematodes’ brains to control the behavior of their progeny, and demonstrated that parasites can be genetically engineered to deliver drugs to the nervous system.