Today, April 25th, is the 7th annual National DNA Day, a day designated by Congress to celebrate 2 genetic milestones – the discovery of the DNA double helix in February 1953, and the announcement 50 years and a month later of the complete human genome sequence. This year’s commemoration includes all the usual suspects – special talks and programs online and at museums and universities as well as multiple news stories, blogs, and articles in scientific magazines.
There’s also a new twist this year – you can bid in an ebay auction to have your very own personal genome sequenced:
"The X PRIZE Foundation, an educational nonprofit prize institute dedicated to fostering radical breakthroughs for the benefit of humanity, and Knome, Inc., a leading personal genomics company, are working together to provide a unique opportunity. Through this special charity auction you will have the opportunity to accelerate the field of personalized medicine and join an elite group of genomic pioneers by receiving a comprehensive private analysis and interpretation of your very own whole genome sequence. Retail value alone is $99,500."
Among other things, the winning bidder will receive a flash drive containing a digital copy of his genome sequence (how cool would that be?) and an “interpretation” of the risk potential in his genome. Wow. Although genome sequencing is still ridiculously pricey, and new research on genetic variation suggests that individual genomes may not be as useful in predicting disease as once hoped, I am amazed anyway. Who would have thought genetics would come so far so fast? How long will it be until everyone has their genome sequence tucked away on a drive along with U2’s latest album and their vacation pictures?
If having your genome sequenced is out of the picture, DNA Day still provides a lot of useful genetic resources.
The National Human Genome Research Institute has a DNA Day page with transcripts of chats between students and geneticists, as well as webcasts and presentations.
The American Society of Human Genetics has a video series on DNA and links to finding local scientists who will give classroom presentations on genetics.
Stanford and the University of Utah both have instructions for simple, do-it-yourself DNA extraction experiments.
The Dolan DNA Learning Center has animations, videos, lectures, and interactive activities on DNA, genetics, genomes, and cancer. Their DNA Interactive program is especially good and includes a thorough Teacher’s Guide.