What’s in your DNA?
December 7, 2022
Students in Dr. Samuels’s HL Biology course are examining their DNA this semester thanks to The Jackson Laboratory, a nonprofit biomedical research institute in Farmington, Connecticut.
Run by The Jackson Laboratory’s Genomics Education team, Teaching the Genome Generation is a nationally funded program made available to science teachers to educate students on modern genetics. It’s a three-part program, including lab experiments, activities to use computational methods to analyze DNA, and conversations about the ethics involved in genetic testing and genetics research. As part of the lab, students extract their own DNA via cheek cells, and can investigate specific genes using equipment lent by JAX. The DNA is anonymized.
In Samuels’s class, students will spend four to five classes with the program, extracting their DNA and identifying a specific gene that affects muscle composition. The gene has two variants — one associated with improved performance in endurance sports such as long-distance running, and one associated with improved performance in power athletics like sprinting and weightlifting.
At the end of the program, students will have a better understanding of what geneticists are accomplishing —and how — in today’s day and age, and will be able to walk away with an accurate view of a potential career path in genetics and biological research.
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