American Genetic Association

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The American Genetic Association (AGA), formerly the American Breeders' Association, is a USA-based learned society dedicated to the study of genetics. Founded in 1903, the organization publishes the Journal of Heredity.

Original plates of Darwin and Mendel from Volume 1, Issue 1 of the American Breeders Magazine, 1910.


The American Genetic Association (AGA), formerly the American Breeders' Association, is a professional organization founded to encourage the study of comparative genetics and genomics, and to promote the application of genetic and genomic methods to the documentation, conservation, and management of organismal diversity.

The American Breeders Association held its first meeting in 1903 to discuss the “new” science of genetics that arose from Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution and Gregor Mendel’s discoveries of the laws of inheritance. The organization was established “to study the laws of breeding and to promote the improvement of plants and animals by the development of expert methods of breeding.” [1]

In 1914, the American Breeders Association broadened its scope and became the American Genetic Association. Today, the AGA’s interests encompass evolutionary diversity and genomics across taxa and subject areas, including conservation genetics, phylogenetics, phylogeography, gene function, and the genetics of domestication.

The AGA disseminates progress in these fields through its publication, Journal of Heredity. It supports research and scholarship through sponsorship of an annual President’s Symposium, special events awards, the Stephen J. O’Brien Award, and the Evolutionary, Ecological, or Conservation Genomics Research Awards.

The AGA is a 501(c)(3) corporation, incorporated in Oregon, Federal Tax ID 53-0204656.


2016 marks the 106th year of continuous publication for the AGA’s Journal of Heredity. First published as the American Breeders Magazine in 1910, the name became Journal of Heredity in 1914, when the American Breeders’ Society became the American Genetic Association. Initially, the journal sought to communicate the principles of heredity to animal and plant breeders, with an emphasis on practical improvements. In its early years, Journal of Heredity was inevitably drawn into the debate over human breeding and eugenics, and included articles on this topic by David Starr Jordan, Alexander Graham Bell, and Charles Davenport, among others (e.g.,[2][3][4][5][6]). In fact, the very first article published in the journal was by Alexander Graham Bell, entitled “How to Improve the Human Race.” [7]

The history of the discipline of genetics is reflected in the trends in topics that have been published in Journal of Heredity over its decades.[7] Early issues included many papers on eugenics, particularly under the editorial leadership of the journal’s first two Editors in Chief, Paul Popenoe and R. C. Cook. Emphasis on eugenics in the journal declined throughout the 1940s and 1950s as support for the topic waned in the scientific community and the general public; when Cook’s daughter, Barbara Kuhn, took over as editor in 1962 after her father’s 40-year service, “…the subject of eugenics was essentially dropped.”[7]

Early topics of interest included comparative color inheritance in mammals (as explored in a series of articles that served as precursors to work applying enzyme kinetics to developmental genetics), determination of the number of human chromosomes, genetic histories of a number of types of livestock (including hybridization of cattle with American bison, e.g.,[8]), the discovery of salivary chromosomes in Drosophila, and “A remarkable paper by Prokofyeva-Belgovskaya, pointing out a difference between mother and daughter chromosomes in binucleate cells. This foreshadowed modern work in intestinal tumors in which there are differences between cells containing the template DNA and those with copies.” [7]

As the science of genetics has progressed, the journal’s scope has shifted away from emphasis on practical applications of animal, plant and human breeding. Under the editorship of Stephen J O’Brien, the journal developed its current focus on primary research in organismal genomics and evolutionary diversity.

The Journal of Heredity is published by Oxford University Press.

The journal is a founding member of the Dryad digital repository, and promotes the Joint Data Archiving Policy.[9]

Editorial Board[edit]


C. Scott Baker (2007- )

Marine Mammal Institute

Hatfield Marine Science Center,

Oregon State University

2030 SE Marine Science Drive

Newport, OR 97365


Managing Editor

Anjanette Baker (2007 - )

American Genetic Association

2030 SE Marine Science Drive

Newport, OR 97365


Review Editors

Animal Genetics & Genomics:

Fred Allendorf

University of Montana

Plant Genetics & Genomics:

Jim Hamrick

University of Georgia

Comparative Genomics:

Stephen J. O’Brien

Dobzhansky Center for Genome Bioinformatics in St. Petersburg State University

Associate Editors

The complete list of Associate Editors is available on the AGA website.

Annual Meeting[edit]

The American Genetic Association’s annual conference, referred to as the President’s Symposium, is organized by the AGA President for that year. In recent years, these meetings have focused on a relevant or emerging theme in non-human genetics and genomics research.

A special issue of the AGA’s Journal of Heredity is devoted each year to publishing proceedings of the symposium. These special issues are available without a subscription from the AGA and Journal of Heredity websites.

Recent President’s Symposia and AGA Presidents[edit]

2016: Local adaptation: from phenotype to genotype to fitness. Lynda Delph

2015: Chromosome evolution: molecular mechanisms & evolutionary consequences. Catherine Peichel

2014: Evolution and plasticity: adaptive responses by species to human-mediated changes to their ecosystems. Robin Waples

2013: Speciation Continuum: A Discussion on the Origin of Species. Kerry Shaw

2012: Recombination: Molecular Mechanisms & Evolutionary Consequences. Mohamed Noor

2011: 2011: Genomics and Biodiversity. Scott V. Edwards

2010: Conservation Genomics. H. Bradley Shaffer

2009: The Genetics and Genomics of Environmental Change. David Rand

2008: Genetics and Genomics of Behavior. Trudy Mackay

2007: Mechanisms of Genome Evolution. Michael Lynch

Key Lecturers[edit]

The keynote speaker at the annual symposium gives the Key Distinguished Lecture. This lecture series was initially funded by a bequest to the AGA from Dr. Wilhemine Key for support of genetics initiatives for human welfare. Dr. Key earned her PhD from the University of Chicago in 1901, and taught at Lombard College, where Sewall Wright was her student. She later carried out pedigree studies of pioneer families that had emigrated from Germany to Pennsylvania in the late 18th century.

[Bold names: An article based on the lecture is available from the Journal of Heredity online archives. Access is free for AGA members.]

2016 Victoria Sork

2015 Mark Kirkpatrick

2014 David Reznick

2013 Sergey Gavrilets

2012 Brian Charlesworth

2011 Robert K. Wayne

2010 Oliver Ryder

2009 Annie Schmidt

2008 Mariana Wolfner

2007 Sally Otto

2006 Allen Orr

2005 June Nasrallah

2004 Walter Gehring

2003 James F. Crow

2002 Barbara Schaal

2001 Masatoshi Nei

2000 Terry Burke

1999 Walter Fitch

1998 Jeffrey Palmer

1997 John Avise

1996 Hampton Carson

1995 Fotis Kafatos

1994 Michael Clegg

1993 Charles S. Levings III

1992 Theodore R. F. Wright

1991 Margaret G. Kidwell

1990 William Provine

1989 Norman Giles

1988 Allan Wilson

1987 Robert W. Allard

1986 Bruce Wallace

1985 Francisco J. Ayala

1984 Harry Harris

1983 Ray D. Owen

1982 James V. Neel

1981 Clement L. Markert

1980 Edward O. Wilson

1979 Victor A. McKusick

1978 D. K. Balyaev

1977 Margery Shaw

1975 Jack R. Harlan

1974 Walter E. Heston

1972 James F. Crow

1971 Harold H. Smith

1970 Marvin S. Legator

1969 John H. Heller

1968 Arno G. Motulsky

1967 Samuel H. Boyer

Awards Offered to Members[edit]

Evolutionary, Ecological, or Conservation Genomics (EECG) Research Award[edit]

The AGA provides this annual award for graduate and post-doctoral researchers who are at a critical point in their research, where additional funds would allow them to conclude their research project and prepare it for publication.

These awards are open to any graduate student or postdoctoral fellow who is a member of the AGA at the time of application.

The program is not intended to fund an entire research project, to initiate new research projects, or to provide salary support. Proposals addressing genome-scale questions, or ecological, evolutionary and conservation genetics questions best addressed with genome-scale data, will be given priority for funding. Awards will generally range from $5,000 to $10,000, awarded to the PI or institution (no overhead is provided).

Special Events Awards[edit]

The AGA grants awards each year for support of special events that advance its mission, particularly to enable students to attend the event. Eligible events include specialized workshops and short courses, but any event relevant to promoting organismal genetic and genomic research will be considered. Events that could lead to Journal of Heredity articles will receive special consideration. Awards are usually between $5,000 and $15,000.

The Stephen J. O'Brien Award[edit]

The Stephen J. O'Brien Award for the best student-authored article published in AGA’s Journal of Heredity honors Dr. O'Brien's many years of service as Editor-in-Chief of the journal. Awards are presented at the President’s Symposium in the year following publication. Award recipients receive a $2,000 prize and up to $1,500 toward expenses to attend the President’s Symposium.


The AGA has a governance council of nine elected members serving three-year staggered terms; an elected president, past-president and president-elect; elected secretary, and an appointed executive vice-president and treasurer. The Editor-in Chief of the journal is a non-voting member of the council. The council employs a manager and maintains an office in Newport, Oregon. The AGA is a 501(c)(3)c non-profit corporation incorporated in the state of Oregon (EIN 53-0204656).

Current Officers and Council Members are available on the AGA’s website.

See also[edit]

Genetics, Genomics, Conservation genetics, Population genetics, Evolutionary biology


  1. ^ Anonymous (1905). J Hered (os-1 (1): 15-16).  Missing or empty |title= (help)
  2. ^ Jordan, D S (1908). "Report of the Committee on Eugenics". J Hered (os-4 (1): 201-208). 
  3. ^ Bell, A G (1908). "A Few Thoughts Concerning Eugenics". J Hered (os-4 (1): 208-214). 
  4. ^ Bell, A G (1909). "Eugenics". J Hered (os-5 (1): 218-220). 
  5. ^ Bell, A G (1914). "How to Improve the Race: Success Possible, but not by Processes Employed with Lower Animals—Little Gain from Preventing Marriage of Undesirables—Important Point Is Formation of a Prepotent, Desirable Stock by Marriages of Desirable People with Each Other—This Prepotent Stock Will Then Raise the Level of the Great Bulk of Normals". J Hered (5 (1): 1-7). 
  6. ^ Davenport, C B (1928). "Crime, Heredity, and Environment". J Hered (19 (7): 307-313). 
  7. ^ a b c d Crow, J F (2004). "Genetics: Alive and Well. The First Hundred Years as Viewed Through the Pages of the Journal of Heredity. WILHEMINE E. KEY 2003 INVITATIONAL LECTURE". J Hered (95(5):365–374). 
  8. ^ Goodnight, C (1914). "My Experience with Bison Hybrids". J Hered (5(5): 197-199). 
  9. ^ Baker, C S (2013). "Journal of heredity adopts joint data archiving policy". J Hered (104: 1). 

External links[edit]