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Anne Buchanan

Anne Buchanan

Senior Research Associate, Department of Anthropology

515 Carpenter Building
University Park , PA 16802
Office Phone: (814) 865-1586


  1. BA, University of Massachusetts, Amherst; Anthropology and Latin American Studies, 1977
  2. MPH, University of Texas School of Public Health, Houston; Population Studies, 1979
  3. DrPH, University of Texas School of Public Health, Houston; Population Studies, 1983


Dr. Buchanan's research interests include public health, epidemiology, genetic epidemiology, developmental genetics, and evolution.  She has a long-standing interest in complex diseases, such as type 2 diabetes in Amerindian and Mexican American populations, heart disease and asthma, what we know about the epidemiology and genetics of diseases presumably caused by gene/environment interaction, and why we don't know more. Previous work includes historical demographic and epidemiological research in Laredo, Texas, the genetic epidemiology of diabetes and the New World syndrome in Mvskoke Indians of Oklahoma and Mexican Americans of Laredo, laboratory genetics work, and bioinformatics analysis.

She has co-authored two books on genetics and evolution, and is the co-author of a well-regarded and wide-ranging blog that covers genetics, epidemiology, epistemology, anthropology, ethical issues, and more.  One of the recurring themes on the blog is the question of how we know what we know in biology, and why we don’t, or even can’t, know more.

Dr Buchanan’s involvement with the Rock Ethics Institute includes helping to organize several lecture series; ‘Health as a Human Right’ in 2005-6 and ‘Who Owns Our Species?’ 2007-8.  She has participated in numerous seminars organized by the Rock and remains interested in many of the issues of concern to faculty associated with the Institute.  Dr Buchanan is now retired, but still blogging, teaching in genetics workshops, and doing freelance writing.

Selected Publications:

Weiss, K., Buchanan, A. (2004) Genetics and the Logic of Evolution, Wiley-Liss.

Buchanan, A.V., Weiss, K.M., Fullerton, S.M.  (2006) Dissecting Complex Disease: The Quest for the Philosopher's Stone? International Journal of Epidemiology, 35: 562-571; published online Mar 15.

Weiss, K.M. and Buchanan, A.V. (2009).  The Mermaid’s Tale: Four Billion Years of Cooperation in the Making of Living Things, Harvard University Press.

Buchanan, A.V., Sholtis, S, Richtsmeier, J, Weiss, K.M. (2009) What are genes “for” or where are traits “from”? What is the question? BioEssays, Feb, 31(2): 198-208

Weiss, K, Buchanan, A. (2011) Is life law-like? Invited Perspective, Genetics. 188:4 761-771

Buchanan, A, Weiss, EB. (2011) Of sad and wished-for years: Elizabeth Barrett Browning’s   lifelong illness. Perspectives in Biology and Medicine, 54:4, 479-503.

Weiss, K. Buchanan, A. (2013); Things Genes Can’t Do; invited essay, Aeon Magazine

Buchanan, A (2013) The Real Two Cultures, Aeon Magazine