2008 National DNA Day Online Chatroom Transcript

National Human Genome Research Institute

National Institutes of Health
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services


2008 National DNA Day Online Chatroom Transcript

The 2008 National DNA Day Moderated Chat was held on Friday, April 25th, 2008 from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Eastern. NHGRI Director Francis Collins and genomics experts from across the institute took questions from students, teachers and the general public on topics ranging from basic genomic research, to the genetic basis of disease, to ethical questions about genetic privacy.


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Information - Moderator Welcome to DNA Day Chatroom 2008! We are now open for business. Send in your questions!


24
Wish you all a happy DNA Day. My student has amplified defective glucokinase gene in a few families in her type 2 DM study ? Does she need to sequence the PCR products ? If so are there any such low cost sequencing facilities available ?
     Pam Schwartzberg, M.D., Ph.D.: We study mouse models of primary immunodeficiencies (genetic diseases that impair the ability of the immune system to fight infections) and how specific disorders affect responses to infectious diseases. If she has amplified a defective gene sequence or product then yes, it would be good to sequence the PCR products. If the gene is amplified, it may be better to look by other methods. There are low cost sequencing facilities, but you may need to check with a local university or research facility.
Sindhu Mahavidyalaya Centre For Biotechnology NAGPUR, INDIA (teacher)
25
In my family there are a number of cases of Diabetes among my paternal uncles. Do they need to go for gene tests ?
     Dale Lea, R.N., M.P.H., C.G.C., F.A.A.N.: Developing genetics, health education and community involvement programs and resources, and translating genetic and genomic information for the public. Diabetes is commonly known to run in families. Genetic testing is not currently used to diagnose a predisposition to developing diabetes. Knowing your family history is an important first step for your entire family in getting early screening and taking preventive steps such as diet and lifestyle. It is important that you share this family history with your healthcare provider. To learn more about the Surgeon General's Family History Initiative go to www.familyhistory.hhs.gov.
Sindhu Mahavidyalaya Centre For Biotechnology NAGPUR, INDIA (teacher)
26
The Human Genome project was completed in 2003. Seeing that we are learning more new information each day, how do we know that we are finished?
     Carla Easter, Ph.D.: Creates and implements genetic education programs. Works with the branch to create science education products for high school students. This is an excellent question. The reality is that it may take us awhile to be "finished" and who knows when that will be. As you pointed out, there is still much to be learned and a lot more to be discovered. The fact is that genomes are always changing, so we may never really be finished.
Terrell High School in GA (11th grade student)
27
What is the definition of a gene?
     Pam Schwartzberg, M.D., Ph.D.: We study mouse models of primary immunodeficiencies (genetic diseases that impair the ability of the immune system to fight infections) and how specific disorders affect responses to infectious diseases. Our official definition is that a gene is the functional and physical unit of heredity passed from parent to offspring. Genes are pieces of DNA, and most genes contain the information for making a specific protein. However, the definition is still open with the recognition that many RNA's that are transcribed from DNA do not encode proteins.
St. Ignatius College Prep in IL (12th grade student)
28
why is this DNA Day ?
     Sarah Harding M.P.H.: Creates and implements community engagement programs focusing on genetics. Great question! DNA Day celebrates the completion of the Human Genome Project in 2003. It also marks the Watson and Crick description of the double helix in 1953.
Flint Northern Academy in MI (12th grade student)
29
SD Citra Kasih (6th grade student)
30
Can gene therapy ever cure a genetic disorder?
     Dale Lea, R.N., M.P.H., C.G.C., F.A.A.N.: Developing genetics, health education and community involvement programs and resources, and translating genetic and genomic information for the public. Gene therapy is an experimental treatment of a genetic disorder that involves replacing, supplementing, or manipulating the expression of abnormal genes with normally functioning genes. Gene therapy has been used in research settings, but has not yet been shown to cure a genetic disorder.
St. Ignatius College Prep in IL (12th grade student)
31
What is a primary purpose of junk DNA?
     Pam Schwartzberg, M.D., Ph.D.: We study mouse models of primary immunodeficiencies (genetic diseases that impair the ability of the immune system to fight infections) and how specific disorders affect responses to infectious diseases. Most of the genome does not encode proteins (in fact only about 2% of the genome does). However, it is clear that some of the non-coding DNA, which has often been referred to as "junk" also plays important functions such as helping regulate gene expression and functioning to help structure the DNA in the nucleus.
St. Ignatius College Prep in IL (12th grade student)
32
Hi, I'd like to know where the best place is to begin learning about genetic science?
     Carla Easter, Ph.D.: Creates and implements genetic education programs. Works with the branch to create science education products for high school students. You can start by visiting the National Human Genome Research Institute's website at http://www.genome.gov.
eman (Higher Education student)
33
How do you feel about DNA day and what is that day all about?
     Sarah Harding M.P.H.: Creates and implements community engagement programs focusing on genetics. DNA Day is a day I look forward to every year! It is a chance to meet new people and new students and talk about the exciting things going on in genetics. This chatroom is especially fun. All of our scientists and researchers get together all day to answer questions about genetics from students around the country.
Flint Northern Academy in MI (10th grade student)
34
What type of scientist are you?
     Pam Schwartzberg, M.D., Ph.D.: We study mouse models of primary immunodeficiencies (genetic diseases that impair the ability of the immune system to fight infections) and how specific disorders affect responses to infectious diseases. I am a molecular immunologist. Translated to English, that means I study the function of genes and proteins that are important in the immune system to help fight off infection. Much of what my laboratory studies are models of immunodeficiencies--that is diseases that prevent people from fighting infections properly (such as the boy in the bubble).
Flint Northern Academy in MI (11th grade student)
36
Shikellamy High School in PA (9th grade student)
37
How do Genes get passed on to our kids?
     Dale Lea, R.N., M.P.H., C.G.C., F.A.A.N.: Developing genetics, health education and community involvement programs and resources, and translating genetic and genomic information for the public. Genes from your parents can get passed on to children in several ways, called patterns of inheritance. A parent can pass on a single, dominant gene mutation that can cause a disease in a child, for example, Huntington disease. Each parent can pass on a recessive gene mutation that can cause a genetic condition such as cystic fibrosis. A parent can also pass on a gene mutation on their X chromosome that can cause a disease in a male such as hemophilia. For more information you can go to the National Library of Medicine www.nlm.nih.gov.
Flint Northern Academy in MI (11th grade student)
38
What is unique about the structure of DNA?
     Pam Schwartzberg, M.D., Ph.D.: We study mouse models of primary immunodeficiencies (genetic diseases that impair the ability of the immune system to fight infections) and how specific disorders affect responses to infectious diseases. There are many unique things about DNA, but the most unique is the ability to be copied by virtue of the double-helix structure. Thus, each strand can be copied into an exact replicate allowing your genes to be inherited by your children.
Scarlet Oaks in OH (12th grade student)
39
When will discussion of the DNA day contest happen? Our science classes are outside doing schoolground cleanup for Arbor/Earth Days.
     Sarah Harding M.P.H.: Creates and implements community engagement programs focusing on genetics. The winners of the American Society in Human Genetics essay contest will be announced at noon today. Stay tuned!!
Carri Wilson in MI ()
40
When was DNA day established?..
     Sarah Harding M.P.H.: Creates and implements community engagement programs focusing on genetics. This is the 6th DNA Day! It began back in 2003 with the completion of the Human Genome Project.
Scarlet Oaks in OH (12th grade student)
41
Why don't we talk about good human genes? Why only defective genes?
     Jean McEwen, J.D., Ph.D.: Working on issues related to the ethical, legal, and social implications of genetic and genomic research. Good point - since most genetic differences among people are neither inherently "good" nor "bad" - they are just differences! In fact, some genetic variants that are associated with a particular disease make the person who has them LESS susceptible to OTHER diseases. A good example is the genetic change associated with sickle cell disease, which confers resistance to malaria. Even terms like "defective genes" or "genetic defect" are really misleading, because they suggest that people who have the "defective" variant of the gene are in some way "defective" - which is not true. ALL of us carry a number of genes that are associated with a higher risk of developing certain diseases - there are no "perfect genetic specimens"!
ABABU Center for Biological Information Technology, RAJAHMUNDRY, INDIA (teacher)
42
Why do I have alergies?
     Pam Schwartzberg, M.D., Ph.D.: We study mouse models of primary immunodeficiencies (genetic diseases that impair the ability of the immune system to fight infections) and how specific disorders affect responses to infectious diseases. Great question! There are many contributing factors to the development of allergies including both genetic and environmental. As more genetic studies (in particular, genome wide association studies that show association of diseases with particular gene sequences) have revealed that subtle changes in gene or promoter sequences (the sequences that control gene expression) can be associated with asthma. However, the increase in allergies and asthma in recent years argues that environmental factors also have a major contribution. There is a whole theory about childhood illness, cleanliness and increased asthma referred to as the "hygiene hypothesis".
Flint Northern Academy in MI (11th grade student)
43
Has the completion of the genome led to any cancer cures?
     Dale Lea, R.N., M.P.H., C.G.C., F.A.A.N.: Developing genetics, health education and community involvement programs and resources, and translating genetic and genomic information for the public. The completion of the human genome research project is leading to a whole new era of personalized medicine, especially in cancer. Genetic testing can now be done on the particular cancer cells or tumor to determine whether a specific treatment will cure the cancer. Breast cancer is an example of a type of cancer where this approach is being used to help treat the cancer. For more information about cancer and genetic treatments go to www.cancer.gov.
North Brunswick Township High School in NJ (9th grade student)
44
I am a pharmacy college graduate and I'm interested in learning about genetics. How might I enter this field of science?
     Carla Easter, Ph.D.: Creates and implements genetic education programs. Works with the branch to create science education products for high school students. There are many fields of science that are now using genomic science. One of the best places to begin looking for the many opportunities in the field is at the National Human Genome Research Institute's website, http://www.genome.gov
Samar (Higher Education )
45
What is your favorite gene?
     Pam Schwartzberg, M.D., Ph.D.: We study mouse models of primary immunodeficiencies (genetic diseases that impair the ability of the immune system to fight infections) and how specific disorders affect responses to infectious diseases. Oh, I couldn't even begin to answer that (certainly not without alienating some of my colleagues). Having said that, I think there are some genes that encode fascinating proteins and miRNA's that have major effects on how the immune system works and fights infection (which is my area of research and interest).
SD Citra Kasih (6th grade student)
46
Best DNA Day ever, now that legislation has been passed that protects us from discrimination based on our genes! Do we expect the President to sign this bill?
     Sarah Harding M.P.H.: Creates and implements community engagement programs focusing on genetics. Yes, I agree! This IS the best DNA Day ever, and the Senate passing the Genetic Information Non-Discrimination Act yesterday makes it even better. The next step is for the House of Representatives to agree and send it to the President. And yes, the President has said that if Congress could successfully pass GINA, he would sign it into law.
Mary in MA ()
47
What is your career, and do you like what you do?
     Dale Lea, R.N., M.P.H., C.G.C., F.A.A.N.: Developing genetics, health education and community involvement programs and resources, and translating genetic and genomic information for the public. Good morning! I am an advanced practice nurse in genetics, and a genetic counselor. I have worked in a public health genetics clinic for over 20 years working with individuals and families who have or who are at risk for genetic disorders. For the past three years I have worked as a Health Educator at the National Human Genome Research Institute helping to develop programs and information about genetic and genomic advances and resources for the general public. I really like what I do! I feel that I am on the cutting edge of new research that will greatly improve our ability to screen, diagnose and treat rare and common genetic diseases.
Flint Northern Academy in MI (10th grade student)
48
Is there such thing as an RNA day?
     Sarah Harding M.P.H.: Creates and implements community engagement programs focusing on genetics. Not officially, no, but DNA Day celebrates all molecules related to DNA.
Abbeville High School in SC (12th grade student)
49
Is it likely that within the next 50 years we will be able to pick and choose at least some of the traits of our offspring?
     Jean McEwen, J.D., Ph.D.: Working on issues related to the ethical, legal, and social implications of genetic and genomic research. Probably - but the even more important question is under what circumstances, if any, it is ethical to do this. There is arguably an important ethical difference between using pre-implantation genetic diagnosis to try to avoid the birth of a child who will suffer from a serious, debilitating genetic disorder and using this technology in an effort to control traits like hair or eye color. And the idea that such technologies could be used in an effort to produce "designer babies" (for example, children with exceptional intelligence) is really pretty silly, since we know that behavioral traits like intelligence are influenced by many, many factors besides genes.
St. Ignatius College Prep in IL (12th grade student)
50
What did you have to major in to become a molecular immunologist?
     Pam Schwartzberg, M.D., Ph.D.: We study mouse models of primary immunodeficiencies (genetic diseases that impair the ability of the immune system to fight infections) and how specific disorders affect responses to infectious diseases. I majored in Biochemisitry and Molecular Bology and did an MD-PhD with a PhD with Molecular Biology. I recommend not specializing too early--a good broad background in molecular biology and genetics will allow you to follow your interests in many areas and take advantage of the latest advances in genomic research.
Abbeville High School in SC (12th grade student)

Information - Moderator We are getting some great questions! Keep on sending them. We will try to get to as many as possible over the course of DNA Day.


52
How did they discover that genes even exist?
     Carla Easter, Ph.D.: Creates and implements genetic education programs. Works with the branch to create science education products for high school students. The discovery of genes is most often credited to Gregor Mendel who was an Austrian monk working in the late 19th century. Mendel studied how various traits in pea plants were passed from the plants to their progeny. It took many,many more years until researchers discovered DNA and what the genes look like.
Shikellamy High School in PA (9th grade student)
53
My cousin is trying to have a baby. She has been diagnosed with PCOS: Poly Cystic Ovary Syndrome. Is there a genetic cause?
     Donna Krasnewich, M.D., Ph.D.: Investigating diseases resulting from abnormal metabolism of carbohydrates. Most researchers think that poly cystic ovary syndrome runs in families. Women who have this disorder tend to have a mother or sister who has poly cystic ovary syndrome. However, there is no proof that it is inherited.
North Brunswick Township High School in NJ (9th grade student)
54
Is DNA pretty?
     Carla Easter, Ph.D.: Creates and implements genetic education programs. Works with the branch to create science education products for high school students. It all depends on how you describe pretty. I would certainly describe DNA as amazing.
Shikellamy High School in PA (9th grade student)
55
What are you doing to celebrate DNA Day?
     Sarah Harding M.P.H.: Creates and implements community engagement programs focusing on genetics. There are lots of things that happen on DNA Day. Many of our NHGRI researchers travel out to schools around the country to talk about the latest in genetics, and to talk about their own career paths. We also host this chatroom every year. Other organizations also participate in DNA Day and make DNA Day shirts, food, and lots of other activities!
Flint Northern Academy in MI (10th grade student)
56
How do viruses replicate without having DNA?
     Pam Schwartzberg, M.D., Ph.D.: We study mouse models of primary immunodeficiencies (genetic diseases that impair the ability of the immune system to fight infections) and how specific disorders affect responses to infectious diseases. There are many different types of viruses, some of which are encoded by RNA, not DNA. Thus, RNA is their genetic material. RNA viruses replicate using their own RNA polymerases. One fascinating set of viruses are the retroviruses and lentiviruses, which have an RNA genome in the virion, but are copied into a DNA copy via an enzyme called reverse transcriptase. The DNA copy is inserted into the host genome, which can cause cancer in some cases by integrating near "oncogenes". The "proviral" DNA is then copied like any other gene by cellular enzymes. The fascinating thing about viruses is that they have evolved all sorts of mechanisms to replicate. They have been around alot longer than us and will outlast and outbeat us.
Abbeville High School in SC (12th grade student)

Information - Moderator Joining us now in the Chatroom is Don Hadley. He's a genetic counselor and and researcher in NHGRI's Social and Behavioral Research Branch.


58
What is Fragile X?
     Donna Krasnewich, M.D., Ph.D.: Investigating diseases resulting from abnormal metabolism of carbohydrates. Fragile X syndrome is a genetic condition that causes a range of developmental problems including learning disabilities and mental retardation. Usually, males are more severely affected by this disorder than females. Many males with fragile X syndrome have characteristic physical features that become more apparent with age. These features include a long and narrow face, large ears, prominent jaw and forehead, unusually flexible fingers, and enlarged testicles (macroorchidism) after puberty. Fragile X syndrome occurs in approximately 1 in 4,000 males and 1 in 8,000 females. For more information about Fragile X syndrome go to the National Library of Medicine web site at www.nlm.nih.gov
SD Citra Kasih (6th grade student)
59
Human genome project has been over, what next?
     Carla Easter, Ph.D.: Creates and implements genetic education programs. Works with the branch to create science education products for high school students. I would say the the Human Genome Project is not really over. We continue to find out more and more about the genome everyday. Although the majority of the sequencing has been completed, the elucidation of the human genome still continues. The original goals of the Project have been meant, but the work is just beginning.
Sindhu Mahavidyalaya Centre For Biotechnology NAGPUR, INDIA (Higher Education student)
60
How to chose a lab that suits me?
     Pam Schwartzberg, M.D., Ph.D.: We study mouse models of primary immunodeficiencies (genetic diseases that impair the ability of the immune system to fight infections) and how specific disorders affect responses to infectious diseases. It is important to chose a lab with work that excites you and also with people that you enjoy. Science is hard work, but it is incredibly exciting and you want to be excited about the work you do.
China Medical University. (Higher Education student)
61
In the video made for Nova on Cracking the Code of Life, patents were issued for sections of the genome. Are these patents still getting in the way of research?
     Jean McEwen, J.D., Ph.D.: Working on issues related to the ethical, legal, and social implications of genetic and genomic research. The evidence is still a bit unclear about the extent to which DNA patents are actually hindering the progress of genetic research, but there is no question that at least in some cases, the existence of patents may be an impediment to genetic discoveries. Researchers worry about confronting a patent "thicket" that will impede their ability to build on discoveries already made without having to negotiate complicated licenses or having to worry about expensive litigation. The Ethical, Legal, and Social Implications (ELSI) Program at NHGRI supports research to assess the extent to which DNA patenting is hindering research, and to explore possible alternative approaches to patenting that will protect the legitimate proprietary interests of researchers who make novel genetic discoveries while at the same time promoting the interest of the public.
North Brunswick Township High School in NJ (9th grade student)
62
Why do people get allergies?
     Dale Lea, R.N., M.P.H., C.G.C., F.A.A.N.: Developing genetics, health education and community involvement programs and resources, and translating genetic and genomic information for the public. The tendency to develop allergies is often hereditary, which means that it can be passed down through your genes. However, just because a parent or sister/brother has allergies, that doesn't mean that you will definitely get them, too. A person doesn't usually inherit a particular allergy, just the likelihood of having allergies.
Flint Northern Academy in MI (11th grade student)
63
What is gene expression?
     Pam Schwartzberg, M.D., Ph.D.: We study mouse models of primary immunodeficiencies (genetic diseases that impair the ability of the immune system to fight infections) and how specific disorders affect responses to infectious diseases. Gene expression is when a gene is turned on, that is when a gene is copied into RNA. That RNA copy can be translated into proteins or function as RNA's on their own. Gene expression can also refer to what genes are turned on in a given cell (ie what RNA's are made in a given cell).
Scarlet Oaks in OH (12th grade student)

Information - Moderator Now in the chatroom is Dr. Alan Guttmacher, a medical geneticist who is Deputy Director of NHGRI.


65
When a mistake like Tay Sachs disease occurs, is it possible to change the one base pair that is wrong?
     Dale Lea, R.N., M.P.H., C.G.C., F.A.A.N.: Developing genetics, health education and community involvement programs and resources, and translating genetic and genomic information for the public. Tay-Sachs disease is a genetic disorder that is inherited in an autosomal recessive pattern. This means that a person who has Tay-Sachs disease inherited a gene mutation from each parent. It is not possible, at this time, to change or correct a gene mutation that causes the disease.
North Brunswick Township High School in NJ (9th grade student)
66
How many people have DNA?
     Samir Kelada, Ph.D., M.P.H.: Identifying genes that confer susceptibility to allergic asthma. Everyone has DNA!! It's the "code" that we all have to give us instructions for life, like everyday biology that goes on in our bodies. Not just people like us have DNA. Every living organism does - animals, plants, fish, you name it!
Shikellamy High School in PA (9th grade student)
67
Does DNA make people mean?
     Jean McEwen, J.D., Ph.D.: Working on issues related to the ethical, legal, and social implications of genetic and genomic research. We do not know of any genes that make people mean, and it is very unlikely that we ever will, because being mean is a moral shortcoming -- not a biological one. We are learning more and more about genes that influence other aspects of human behavior, but all behaviors are very complex and are influenced by both genetic and environmental factors.
Abbeville High School in SC (5th grade student)
68
What types to of jobs are there in the DNA research?
     Alan Guttmacher, M.D.: Developing new research tools to translate the findings of the Human Genome Project (HGP) into new diagnostic tests and therapies. There are many, many types of jobs involving DNA research. They include everything from working in a lab to figure out how DNA functions, to bioinformatics, to clinical medical research that figures out how variations in DNA affect health, to research about the ethical questions that knowledge of our DNA brings up. In fact, one of the neat things about DNA is how many types of issues it brings up, since it is involved so importantly in who we are as a species and as individuals.
Kittanning Senior High School in PA (9th grade student)
69
What is the diffrence in DNA and RNA?
     Samir Kelada, Ph.D., M.P.H.: Identifying genes that confer susceptibility to allergic asthma. The difference between DNA and RNA is that DNA is the "source code" that provides all the basic instructions for life. RNA is structurally like DNA but it represents the intermediate between DNA and proteins. Proteins, you may know, are the things that carry out most of the biological processes in our bodies. So the general order of things is: DNA, which is read like code to produce RNA, which is then translated to make proteins, which carry out biological processes.
Abbeville High School in SC (12th grade student)
70
What is the most harmful substance to our DNA?
     Don Hadley, M.S., C.G.C.: Researching the components of a genetic counseling session, including how people are informed of genetic disorders and how they make decisions regarding genetic testing. That's a great question. I don't think we know the answer to your question. We do know that certain substances are harmful to DNA in that they have the potential to change it's basic structure which can lead to greater risks to develop certain diseases. For example, high doses of radiation can cause changes in our DNA and may lead to risks for certain types of cancers. There are many other harsh chemicals that can also increase risks. Unfortunately, we don't the "most" harmful substance.
Our Lady of Lourdes Academy in FL (11th grade student)
71
What is the difference between mRNA and tRNA?
     Pam Schwartzberg, M.D., Ph.D.: We study mouse models of primary immunodeficiencies (genetic diseases that impair the ability of the immune system to fight infections) and how specific disorders affect responses to infectious diseases. DNA is copied into mRNA which is the template for protein synthesis. Each set of three nucleotides in the mRNA stands for a specific amino acid which will be used in building a protein. A tRNA is the structural RNA that recognizes/reads that 3 base code and attaches the proper amino-acid to a protein during translation, the process by which a mRNA is translated into a protein product.
Pentacostal Holiness Baptist AME High School in SC (10th grade student)
72
Abbeville High School in SC (12th grade student)
73
Why did you pick today to be DNA Day?
     Sarah Harding M.P.H.: Creates and implements community engagement programs focusing on genetics. Today is DNA Day because it is a celebration both of completing the Human Genome Project in 2003, and of Watson and Crick's description of the double helix in 1953.
Jeffrey Boyer in PA (9th grade student)
74
What would you do if you learned from genetic mapping that you have a 15% higher chance of developing type 1 diabetes? No more chocolate cake? Eliminate all stress?
     Dale Lea, R.N., M.P.H., C.G.C., F.A.A.N.: Developing genetics, health education and community involvement programs and resources, and translating genetic and genomic information for the public. If I learned from a genetic mapping test that I had a 15% chance to have Type 1 diabetes, I would definitely change my diet and any other lifestyle habits that would contribute to my developing the condition. I would go to see a dietitian who can help me work out a specific diet plan that I can follow, and make sure that I get regular exercise. I would also make sure that I saw my health care provider regularly to get screened for the disease. I would miss the chocolate cake!
Query ()
75
Could scientists look at your DNA and find anything that's wrong with you? If so, can scientists use that to predict any future problems in a persons life?
     Jean McEwen, J.D., Ph.D.: Working on issues related to the ethical, legal, and social implications of genetic and genomic research. We don't yet know nearly enough about DNA and how genes work for scientists to be able to "find anything that's wrong with you" just by looking at your genes. Even when we understand much more than we do now about the genetic factors that influence health, we will still be a long, long way from being able to predict all future problems in a person's life, because most health conditions result from a complicated interplay of genetic and environmental factors. Genes alone do not "determine" anybody's future health.
Flint Northern Academy in MI (11th grade student)
76
Hey Dr. Alan Guttmacher! What color is DNA?
     Alan Guttmacher, M.D.: Developing new research tools to translate the findings of the Human Genome Project (HGP) into new diagnostic tests and therapies. DNA in its native state is essentially colorless. We often represent each of the four bases that make up DNA as having specific colors, but that is just to allow us to depict things in away that is easy to discern at a glance.
Lighthouse Christian Academy in SC (12th grade student)
77
What do you do for a living and where are you located.
     Pam Schwartzberg, M.D., Ph.D.: We study mouse models of primary immunodeficiencies (genetic diseases that impair the ability of the immune system to fight infections) and how specific disorders affect responses to infectious diseases. I run a research laboratory at the National Institutes of Health, the largest research institute in the world and an incredibly exciting and important place to work (located in Bethesda, MD). My lab works on molecular immunology, or studies of genes and proteins that help regulate the immune system and how it fights infection.
Flint Northern Academy in MI (11th grade student)
78
How many years of schooling (after high school) is typical for becoming a geneticist?
     Carla Easter, Ph.D.: Creates and implements genetic education programs. Works with the branch to create science education products for high school students. It all depends on the field of genetics you pursue. Programs all vary in their length of time and amount of schooling after college. There are those who choose to pursue graduate degrees after college and these programs can take about 4 to 7 years more or less. If you are interested in a clinical career in genetics, you could attend medical school, enroll in a nursing program or a physicians assistants program.
Abbeville High School in SC (12th grade student)
79
does dna kill people somtimes
     Alan Guttmacher, M.D.: Developing new research tools to translate the findings of the Human Genome Project (HGP) into new diagnostic tests and therapies. Hmmm...almost all of us eventually die from some disease, and that disease is almost always due to the interplay of genetic factors (variations in our DNA) and environmental factors. So, in a way, DNA kills almost all of us. Of course, first it allows us all to live and be the individuals who we are.
Kannapolis Middle School in NC (7th grade student)
80
Why is DNA Day NOT a National Holiday?
     Sarah Harding M.P.H.: Creates and implements community engagement programs focusing on genetics. That is a great question! And it would be wonderful to have the day off. But if we did, we couldn't be here answering your questions!
SD Citra Kasih (6th grade student)
81
Do scientists now think RNA may influence heredity more than was once thought?
     Samir Kelada, Ph.D., M.P.H.: Identifying genes that confer susceptibility to allergic asthma. That's a great question! Indeed scientists do now think RNA influences heredity more than was once thought. Quite recently, new kinds of RNA have been discovered that can modify the expression of a gene and the initial development of an organism. Researchers won the prestigious Nobel prize for this discovery.
Terrell High School in GA (11th grade student)

Information - Moderator Fyi, you can click the experts' names to see a pop-up displaying their areas of research.


83
What is your career?
     Carla Easter, Ph.D.: Creates and implements genetic education programs. Works with the branch to create science education products for high school students. I am a Science Educator for the National Human Genome Research Institute.
Flint Northern Academy in MI (12th grade student)
84
What do you do every day in your job?
     Pam Schwartzberg, M.D., Ph.D.: We study mouse models of primary immunodeficiencies (genetic diseases that impair the ability of the immune system to fight infections) and how specific disorders affect responses to infectious diseases. I run a research laboratory studying molecular immunology or studies of genes and proteins that regulate how we fight infection. As the head of the lab, I help plan the direction for the work with my wonderful staff and colleagues and spend a fair amount of time discussing experiments and plans. I also spend a fair amount of time training and teaching people in my lab and the public, working on science policy and answering emails! I love my work.
Flint Northern Academy in MI (12th grade student)
85
Is the "Boy in a Bubble" an accurate treatment?
     Dale Lea, R.N., M.P.H., C.G.C., F.A.A.N.: Developing genetics, health education and community involvement programs and resources, and translating genetic and genomic information for the public. At one time, completely controlling the environment of someone who was born with no immune system was a way to treat this disorder. This not a realistic treatment, however. In recent years, new treatments have been developed and these include bone marrow transplantation, and stem-cell transplantation in babies before they are born. Gene therapy has been tried; however, some people developed complications so that research studies using this approach in the United states have been suspended.
Abbeville High School in SC (12th grade student)
86
How do researchers know when there is a problem in a gene?
     Belen Hurle, Ph.D.: Generating data for use in developing and refining computational tools for comparing genomic sequence from multiple vertebrate species. Good question! Sometimes the problem causes a very obvious condition, such an physical abnormality or a metabolic illness. Sometimes the problem is very subtle and goes unnoticed. In some instances, the researcher knows something is wrong, but they don't know what gene is defective yet. However, if the problem has been well researched there could be a clinical test available that can be run to confirm what gene is responsible for the problem.
Flint Northern Academy in MI (11th grade student)
87
What happens to DNA when someone dies?
     Samir Kelada, Ph.D., M.P.H.: Identifying genes that confer susceptibility to allergic asthma. That's a fun question! Like all things biological, DNA will degrade over time. But remarkably, DNA is actually quite resistant to degradation compared to other biological things like RNA and protein. So, researchers can actually extract DNA from deceased people who have been dead for a long time. They've even been able to extract DNA from extinct Neanderthals that have been frozen in glaciers for thousands and thousands of years! This is especially useful for studies of evolution.
Abbeville High School in SC (12th grade student)
88
Is it ethical to test human genes?
     Erin Ramos, Ph.D., M.P.H.: Supports multi-disciplinary research in epidemiology and genomics that encourages 1) the application of genomic technologies to existing population and clinical studies and 2) the development of new population resources for investigation of genetic and environmental contributions to complex diseases. That is a really great question. We are learning so much about how variation in our genes increases risk for certain diseases. So, testing our genes might provide useful information and help us treat certain diseases. However, it is very important to be cautious with these genetic tests. People who have their genes tested need to understand the risks and the benefits of knowing their risk for disease.
ABABU Center for Biological Information Technology, RAJAHMUNDRY, INDIA (Higher Education student)

Information - Moderator A number of you have asked when the winners of the American Society of Human Genetics essay contest will be announced. They will be announced at NOON today. So, check back with the chatroom then if you want to find out who the winners are!


90
how, if there is a way, can you cure a genetic disorder like, CF
     Alan Guttmacher, M.D.: Developing new research tools to translate the findings of the Human Genome Project (HGP) into new diagnostic tests and therapies. First, we usually try to treat the disease - that is, to find away to combat its symptoms effectively. However, a true "cure" - that is, essentially making the disease a thing of the past for the affected individual, is often the ultimate goal. For diseases like CF that are due to specific variations in specific genes, one way to effect a cure is to modify the "abnormal" gene to make it function like a normal copy. This is so-called "genetic engineering" or "gene therapy." However, gene therapy is much more complicated than once thought. I expect that your generations will make it a reality, however, so think about a future in genetics research...
Scarlet Oaks in OH (11th grade student)
91
When did America officially start celebrating DNA day?
     Sarah Harding M.P.H.: Creates and implements community engagement programs focusing on genetics. DNA Day first began in 2003 with the completion of the Human Genome Project. It has been going strong ever since!
Charlotte Latin School in NC (6th grade student)
92
How did computers help complete the genome project?
     Larry Thompson, M.S., M.F.A.: Leads the Communications Branch at the Genome Institute. Computers were critical for mangaging the massive amounts of information information that were generated the DNA sequencing machines. Each "read" from a sequencing machine was like one small piece of a very big puzzle. The computers, using specially created software, figured out how to assemble the DNA puzzle pieces into a picture of the whole human genome. This fascinating field is called bioinformatics and it's a great career if you are interested in solving puzzles.
Kannapolis Middle School in NC (7th grade student)
93
Do you have to know about DNA to be a nurse?
     Dale Lea, R.N., M.P.H., C.G.C., F.A.A.N.: Developing genetics, health education and community involvement programs and resources, and translating genetic and genomic information for the public. As a result of human genome research we are learning that genes play a role in rare and common diseases. Also, genetic testing is now being used to find out whether a particular medicine or dose of medicine will work for a patient. This is called personalized medicine. Nurses administer medications and educate patients about their disease and treatments, so having knowledge of DNA and basic genetics is becoming increasingly important for nurses. There are now specific nursing competencies in genetics and genomics that are being taught in nursing school.
Shikellamy High School in PA (9th grade student)
94
How long is DNA?
     Samir Kelada, Ph.D., M.P.H.: Identifying genes that confer susceptibility to allergic asthma. Human DNA is 3 BILLION letters long! That's a lot of letters. These 3 billion letters are divided into chromosomes, each of which contains letters that spell out certain RNAs and proteins. We all have 23 pairs of chromosomes, and some are long and some are short.
Daniel in NC (7th grade student)
95
What inspired you do study science?
     Belen Hurle, Ph.D.: Generating data for use in developing and refining computational tools for comparing genomic sequence from multiple vertebrate species. Curiosity, the desire to know how living creatures function. Also fascination for microscopes, the idea of seeing the invisible was so cool to me. Finally a great biology teacher in high school open my eyes to genetics -- I have been focused in this area of science ever since.
Flint Northern Academy in MI (11th grade student)
96
What college did you attend?
     Erin Ramos, Ph.D., M.P.H.: Supports multi-disciplinary research in epidemiology and genomics that encourages 1) the application of genomic technologies to existing population and clinical studies and 2) the development of new population resources for investigation of genetic and environmental contributions to complex diseases. Hi there. I went to Penn State University for my Bachelors degree in Biology. Then, I went to the University of Washington in Seattle to earn my Ph.D. in the field of Public Health Genetics.
Flint Northern Academy in MI (10th grade student)
97
What is the purpose for chromatin uncoiling and coiling during prophase?
     Pam Schwartzberg, M.D., Ph.D.: We study mouse models of primary immunodeficiencies (genetic diseases that impair the ability of the immune system to fight infections) and how specific disorders affect responses to infectious diseases. Chromatin needs to uncoil during mitosis in order for DNA to replicate. During prophase, chromosomes re-condense in order for them to start the process of separation which will be mediated by centromeres binding to kinetochores via microtubules.
Abbeville High School in SC (12th grade student)
98
What is bioinformatics?
     Kris Wetterstrand, M.S.: Working with the Sequences, Maps and Bacterial Artificial Chromosome (BAC) Libraries Program and the ENCODE (ENCyclopedia Of DNA Elements) project. Bioinformatics refers to handling the information related to biological research. In this age of computers, you won't be surprised that biologists use computers to store and analyze the results of their research. For the field of genomics, computers are and have been essential in handling the huge amounts of data that are generated from DNA sequencing and other genetic approaches. Imagine the Human Genome Project - one human genome is 3 billion bases or 3 billion bits of data, which was sequenced about 8 times over to get it right (~24 billion bits of data). Then you add the gene information and other forms of annotation. It has to be stored, described and analyzed. For each genome, this is done. Basically this kind of research wouldn't happen without computers and bioinformaticists.
Samar (Higher Education student)
99
are you a nerd?
     Sarah Harding M.P.H.: Creates and implements community engagement programs focusing on genetics. Well, I might be a bit nerdy; I enjoy learning about the latest in science and get excited when cool things happen in genetics. But I'm a big fans of nerds, we make the world go round...
Kannapolis Middle School in NC (7th grade student)
100
What is genetic counseling? What qualifications do I need to practice it?
     Don Hadley, M.S., C.G.C.: Researching the components of a genetic counseling session, including how people are informed of genetic disorders and how they make decisions regarding genetic testing. Genetic counseling is a profession that focuses on helping individuals and their families to understand the genetic or inherited basis of a disease that they have or is in their family. GCs also assist families in sorting through the information from a psychological and social basis in order to help them make decisions about genetic testing, reproductive options, prenatal testing and a multitude of other issues that they may face as they learn about genetic risk and available genetic technologies. I would encourage you to go to the web site of the National Society of Genetic Counselors (NSGC) to learn in greater detail about the professional. An official definition for GC exists their as well. This site also provides stories about GCs and paths they have taken in becoming a GC. To be a GC, one must complete a receive a graduate degree (masters of science) from a graduate program that is accredited by the American Board of Genetic Counseling (ABGC). ABGC has it's own web site which lists the GC graduate programs that are fully accredited. You can either go to ABGC directly (www.ABGC.net) or reach it through the NSGC web site. Good luck. We can use more interested people in our profession.
ABABU Center for Biological Information Technology, RAJAHMUNDRY, INDIA (Higher Education student)
101
Does malaria make sickle cells stop growing? Is there a way for scientists to use sickle cells to cure aids, or stop it from growing?
     Donna Krasnewich, M.D., Ph.D.: Investigating diseases resulting from abnormal metabolism of carbohydrates. You ask a very good question. There appears to be evidence that cells that carry sickle cell hemoglobin do not get as easily infected with malaria. The mechanism appears to be that malaria carries enzymes (working proteins) that break down normal hemoglobin but it has a harder time breaking down sickle cell hemoglobin. So people with sickle cell disease have a resistance to malaria. As for using sickle cell to cure aids, I do not know a strategy currently being used in that direction.
Flint Northern Academy in MI (11th grade student)
102
How much research is being done to associate genes with fetal alcohol syndrome and drug-related disorders?
     Dale Lea, R.N., M.P.H., C.G.C., F.A.A.N.: Developing genetics, health education and community involvement programs and resources, and translating genetic and genomic information for the public. There is research being done on the effects of alcohol on the fetus during pregnancy. You can always check the National Institutes of Health Clinical Trials at www.clinicaltrials.gov to find the specific research on fetal alcohol syndrome and drug-related disorders.
Abbeville High School in SC (12th grade student)
103
Why is the structure of DNA so important anyway?
     Samir Kelada, Ph.D., M.P.H.: Identifying genes that confer susceptibility to allergic asthma. That's a great question! And a hard question too! One answer to this question is that the structure of DNA, which was discovery in 1953, actually tells us a lot about how it works. There are two strands of DNA that are interwoven, and each strand is used as a source or template to copy the DNA to future cells. On a historical note, today is a celebration of the discovery in 1953, a really remarkable scientific accomplishment. And we also celebrate the completion of the sequencing of the human genome today.
Shikellamy High School in PA (9th grade student)
104
How much contribution of DNA is there for controlling human behavior?
     Erin Ramos, Ph.D., M.P.H.: Supports multi-disciplinary research in epidemiology and genomics that encourages 1) the application of genomic technologies to existing population and clinical studies and 2) the development of new population resources for investigation of genetic and environmental contributions to complex diseases. Thanks for your question. Human behavior is very complicated. Genes, which are made up of DNA, probably have some influence on certain human behaviors . However, the environment and other non-genetic factors probably play an even bigger role.
Sharda, India (Higher Education student)
105
What is Fos and Jun?
     Pam Schwartzberg, M.D., Ph.D.: We study mouse models of primary immunodeficiencies (genetic diseases that impair the ability of the immune system to fight infections) and how specific disorders affect responses to infectious diseases. Fos and Jun are two transcription factors, that is they bind certain DNA sequences called promoters that regulate gene expression (ie they "turn on" genes). Fos and Jun are among the first transcription factors that get activated when cells are stimulated to divide. Interestingly, both Fos and Jun were first discovered as oncogenes picked up by acutely transforming retroviruses. Many genes regulating important cellular processes were first discovered this way.
Therizino (6th grade student)
106
Besides sequencing, what are the alternate methods to detect single nucleotide polymorphisms in a DNA?
     Kris Wetterstrand, M.S.: Working with the Sequences, Maps and Bacterial Artificial Chromosome (BAC) Libraries Program and the ENCODE (ENCyclopedia Of DNA Elements) project. Yes. There are other ways to detect SNPs, called genotyping. Using DNA's ability to complementarily bind to itself, scientists can design screens to find differences between two pieces of DNA. In other words, if the pieces bind, then no SNP. If they don't bind, then a SNP is detected.
Preeti Govindas, M.Sc, SMV Center for Biotechnology (Higher Education student)
107
How does the new DNA nondiscrimination act assist my future?
     Alan Guttmacher, M.D.: Developing new research tools to translate the findings of the Human Genome Project (HGP) into new diagnostic tests and therapies. Great question. I was lucky enough yesterday to be in the Senate gallery to watch the debate and witness the historic 95-0 vote by which the Senate passed the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act (GINA). We expect the House, which passed a similar bill earlier this year by a vote of 420-3, to concur with the Senate bill next week and the President to sign it soon afterwards. GINA essentially prevents health insurers and employers from forcing anyone to have a genetic test or to use information about an individual's genetic makeup to set rates, decide who to hire or fire, etc. Perhaps most importantly, GINA will allow people in the future to use information about their individual genetic makeup to improve their health, without fear that this knowledge will backfire by being used against them in health insurance and employment. This is particularly important for people in your generation, since by the time you are old enough to be developing the serious conditions that become common in middle age, we should know a lot about how specific variations in genetic makeup affect health. It is reassuring to know that, after over a dozen years of waiting to see GINA pass, we appear now to be only one week or so away from having it protect us all.
East Hickman County High School in TN (10th grade student)
108
Can some people have the same DNA?
     Belen Hurle, Ph.D.: Generating data for use in developing and refining computational tools for comparing genomic sequence from multiple vertebrate species. Identical twins are the only ones that theoretically are born with identical DNA. But even they are not totally identical. While in the womb the environment can be such that they are developing differently. They also accumulate differences at the DNA level due to environmental influence over the years. For instance imagine that one likes to tan and the other doesn't: the one that tans frequently may end up with DNA damage due to ultraviolet light resulting in skin cancer. Did you know that identical twins don't have the same fingerprints?
Shikellamy High School in PA (9th grade student)
109
Is Severe Combined Immunodeficiency worse than immunodeficiency?
     Donna Krasnewich, M.D., Ph.D.: Investigating diseases resulting from abnormal metabolism of carbohydrates. Immunodeficiency refers to the inability of the body to fight off infections well. Severe Combined Immunodeficiency or SCID is a type of immunodeficiency. There are many types of immunodeficiency and SCID one of the most severe. There is currently research going on to help these affected children's bodies fight off infection, there is still alot of work to do to understand this disorder and help the children feel better.
SD Citra Kasih (6th grade student)
110
I have started a new biotechnology program here at Scarlet oaks and have been telling the students about the job opportunities in this field. Could you elaborate on the types of jobs out there for this field
     Carla Easter, Ph.D.: Creates and implements genetic education programs. Works with the branch to create science education products for high school students. There are a number of jobs opportunities available. Bioinformatics is a really hot field and perfect for those individuals who have both biology and informatics interests. Also, there are always careers in research, but fields like pharmacogenomics and pharmacogenetics are emerging. They also can consider careers in fields that pertain to the ethical, legal, and social implications of genetics and genomics. Many clinical opportunities exist and there is a great need for genetic counselors. Overall, there really are a lot of job opportunities for high school students to consider as they think about their futures and the careers they could pursue in genetics and genomics .
Scarlet Oaks in OH (11th grade teacher)
111
What made you go into this career?
     Kris Wetterstrand, M.S.: Working with the Sequences, Maps and Bacterial Artificial Chromosome (BAC) Libraries Program and the ENCODE (ENCyclopedia Of DNA Elements) project. I have always loved biology. I also love math. Since much of genetics is math, I was drawn to it. I spent some time in the lab, but found I didn't want to stay there as a career. So, now I am a government bureaucrat. I help to figure out how to fund the best scientific research possible.
Flint Northern Academy in MI (12th grade student)
112
What causes one allele to be dominant over another?
     Samir Kelada, Ph.D., M.P.H.: Identifying genes that confer susceptibility to allergic asthma. Nice question! One allele is dominant over another often because the mutation causes the resulting protein act in a way that disturbs or inhibits the function of the other, normal allele. This is often called a "dominant negative" effect. Often proteins need to work in pairs (or in larger numbers), and if the mutant protein pairs with partner proteins better than the normal one but as a result disrupts normal function of this protein group, you get this kind of effect. This is not always the case. Sometimes, as you probably know already, there are recessive effects (where you need two mutations to cause dysfunction) and some that are co-dominant, where both alleles exert their effects.
Abbeville High School in SC (12th grade student)
113
Why does science interest you?
     Kris Wetterstrand, M.S.: Working with the Sequences, Maps and Bacterial Artificial Chromosome (BAC) Libraries Program and the ENCODE (ENCyclopedia Of DNA Elements) project. I really love how the natural world works. To me, it's fascinating that all these species exist in the world and interact with each other and the environment. Biodiversity to me its beautiful.
Flint Northern Academy in MI (12th grade student)
114
What is the Genome project?
     Alan Guttmacher, M.D.: Developing new research tools to translate the findings of the Human Genome Project (HGP) into new diagnostic tests and therapies. You probably are referring to the "Human Genome Project" which officially began in October, 1990 and ended on April 14, 2003. The ultimate goal of this international project - which ended ahead of schedule and under budget - was to sequence the DNA that makes up the human genome. That was achieved on April 14, 2003. While the Project, itself, is officially over, we are now in the midst of the really exciting and even more important work of figuring out how the genome functions and how it affects our health.
Kannapolis Middle School in NC (7th grade student)
115
Can you change my DNA so that I have special powers?
     Sarah Harding M.P.H.: Creates and implements community engagement programs focusing on genetics. What kind of special powers would you like? The ability to scale walls? Or the ability to shoot lasers from your eyes? Super abilities through DNA will most likely continue to be limited to movies like Spider Man and X-men. Right now the focus on genetic research at the NHGRI has to do with maximizing the potential in our genetic code that already builds the amazing human body.
Wright Business School in OK (Higher Education student)
116
Is Duke University a good collage to lean about D.N.A
     Carla Easter, Ph.D.: Creates and implements genetic education programs. Works with the branch to create science education products for high school students. Duke University is an excellent university with wonderful programs in the sciences. I am sure that you would learn a lot about DNA there.
Kannapolis Middle School in NC (7th grade student)
117
If you have too many chromosomes, why do you have down syndrome?
     Dale Lea, R.N., M.P.H., C.G.C., F.A.A.N.: Developing genetics, health education and community involvement programs and resources, and translating genetic and genomic information for the public. A person who has Down syndrome has an extra number 21 chromosome. Another name for Down syndrome is trisomy 21. There are other genetic conditions that involve extra or missing chromosomes such as Trisomy 13, Trisomy 18 and Klinefelter syndrome (47,XXY).
Flint Northern Academy in MI (12th grade student)
118
Why are some traits such as sickle cell hiden during some generations?
     Don Hadley, M.S., C.G.C.: Researching the components of a genetic counseling session, including how people are informed of genetic disorders and how they make decisions regarding genetic testing. Genetic conditions like Sickle Cell Disease, Cystic Fibrosis, Tay Sachs Disease, Phenylketonuria and many others are inherited in a way that is referred as autosomal recessive inheritance. In short, this means that a person has the disease if they receive one copy of the gene that carries the mutation from BOTH parents. If a person only has one copy, they do not express the symptoms of the disease. So, parents of an affected person usually only have one copy of the gene that contains the mutation and one "normal" copy. THey, therefore, don't show any symptoms. It's not unusual for persons who have a autosomal recessive diseases to question, "how can this be inherited? No one else in my family has this disease!" I would encourage you to go to the NHGRI website and use the Talking Glossary to hear more examples and explanations about mechanisms of inheritance. (genome.gov) Great question. Thanks for asking.
Flint Northern Academy in MI (12th grade student)
119
With the help of DNA is it possible to bring back extinct species like the mammoth?
     Belen Hurle, Ph.D.: Generating data for use in developing and refining computational tools for comparing genomic sequence from multiple vertebrate species. Funny that you ask! Just a couple of years ago researchers successfully read long stretches of mammoth DNA extracted from fossil bones. In fact, there is a whole electronic database of DNA from extinct animals and plants. Querying the information they were able to collect the investigators were able to deduce interesting facts, such as that mammoth's fur was of different colors. But bringing back the species is a science fiction scenario with the current technology.
Preeti Govindas, M.Sc, SMV Center for Biotechnology (Higher Education student)
120
How can knowledge of DNA cure cancer?
     Donna Krasnewich, M.D., Ph.D.: Investigating diseases resulting from abnormal metabolism of carbohydrates. One of the main issues with cancer is that cancer cells do not know when to stop growing. If scientists could figure out which genes in the DNA are involved in why these cells grow so out of control and figure out how to stop it that would certainly be a good therapy for cancer. The other problem with cancer cells is that they invade or metastasize to healthy tissues. Scientists are also working on finding genes that control this invasion and ways to stop it as well. Thank you for asking such a great question.
Fort Dorchester High School in SC (10th grade student)
121
Why do you use microscopes?
     Kris Wetterstrand, M.S.: Working with the Sequences, Maps and Bacterial Artificial Chromosome (BAC) Libraries Program and the ENCODE (ENCyclopedia Of DNA Elements) project. I use microscopes so I can see things that are too small to see with my eyes. There is a lot going on in the microscopic world. Did you know that your body contains more cells from microscopic creatures than from your own cells?
Kannapolis Middle School in NC (7th grade student)
122
What is protien?
     Kris Wetterstrand, M.S.: Working with the Sequences, Maps and Bacterial Artificial Chromosome (BAC) Libraries Program and the ENCODE (ENCyclopedia Of DNA Elements) project. A protein is a molecule in living things that make up tissues and perform chemical reactions in the body. It is made up of amino acids and is coded by DNA. In other words, DNA has the information need to make a protein.
Kannapolis Middle School in NC (7th grade student)
123
Was it hard for you to learn about DNA?
     Samir Kelada, Ph.D., M.P.H.: Identifying genes that confer susceptibility to allergic asthma. Some things about DNA were hard for me to learn. There are some things that are obvious and stand out. But other things are more subtle, like how DNA is actually controlled in how it's read by it's complicated structure. DNA is of course a very long string of base pairs, which is tethered to a backbone structure, and this is all wrapped around proteins (called histones) to make it compact enough to fit in the nucleus of a cell. This wrapping around proteins is not random, and it actually determines if the DNA will be transcribed or kept silent. That was hard for me to learn.
Shikellamy High School in PA (9th grade student)
124
Why is DNA important?
     Belen Hurle, Ph.D.: Generating data for use in developing and refining computational tools for comparing genomic sequence from multiple vertebrate species. It is the manual of instructions that spells how are you build, how does your body works, and who are your parents. It also holds information on your risk factors for disease that can be used to keep you healthy. I would say that is pretty important (and cool).
Kannapolis Middle School in NC (7th grade student)
125
How far along are we in really knowing everything there is to know about DNA?
     Alan Guttmacher, M.D.: Developing new research tools to translate the findings of the Human Genome Project (HGP) into new diagnostic tests and therapies. It's hard to know, since the more we know about DNA the more we realize how much more there is to know. For instance, the ENCODE project (http://www.genome.gov/10005107) has told us much new about how DNA functions, but has also made it clear that its function is more complex than we thought even recently. I hope that your generation will be involved in finally figuring out all there is to know about DNA - a very intriguing and important mystery to solve.
Athens High School in AL (11th grade student)
126
Where do you start when you begin to research a trait or gene? What are the usual steps for the research?
     Kris Wetterstrand, M.S.: Working with the Sequences, Maps and Bacterial Artificial Chromosome (BAC) Libraries Program and the ENCODE (ENCyclopedia Of DNA Elements) project. One way to look for a gene associated with a trait is to find a population (a group of people for example) that have a certain trait (say, a disease) and then find the genetic sequences in common in those people. This may sound simple, but it is hard research to do.
Abbeville High School in SC (12th grade student)
127
Are there genes in water?
     Kris Wetterstrand, M.S.: Working with the Sequences, Maps and Bacterial Artificial Chromosome (BAC) Libraries Program and the ENCODE (ENCyclopedia Of DNA Elements) project. Not if the water is pure. However, if you take water from a lake, you might just find some organisms in there with genes of their own.
Scarlet Oaks in OH (11th grade student)
128
Is their a gene that causes breast cancer?
     Dale Lea, R.N., M.P.H., C.G.C., F.A.A.N.: Developing genetics, health education and community involvement programs and resources, and translating genetic and genomic information for the public. Research studies indicate that genetic factors have a role in susceptibility to breast cancer. There are a number of autosomal dominant inherited genes that are known to cause hereditary breast cancer. These include BRCA1, BRCA2 gene mutations. Genetic testing is now available for families with hereditary breast cancer so that family members can learn whether they have inherited one of these genes. For more information about genes and breast cancer you can go to www.cancer.gov.
Kannapolis Middle School in NC (7th grade student)
129
Who's DNA was used for the human genome project.
     Larry Thompson, M.S., M.F.A.: Leads the Communications Branch at the Genome Institute. When the public Human Genome Project was lauched, the researchers decided not to have the DNA come from a single individual. Instead, one of the researchers working on the project put an advertisement in the local newspaper in upstate New York to get volunteers to donate some blood and then extracted DNA from the white blood cells of several anonymous volunteers. So, no one actually knows whose DNA was seqeunced in the original Human Genome Project -- and it doesn't really matter because it is a reference sequence for all of us and we know that we all differ by some one-tenth of a percent so no single individual's DNA would make a perfect reference sequence anyway.
Liberty Jr.Sr. High School in PA (10th grade student)
130
Who is Gregor Mendal and what did he do?
     Carla Easter, Ph.D.: Creates and implements genetic education programs. Works with the branch to create science education products for high school students. Gregor Mendel is often known as the father of genetics. He was an Austrian monk in the 19th century who studied the transfer of physical traits from pea plants to their progeny. He is often credited with the discovery of genes. In fact, a whole approach to examining genetics, Mendelian Genetics, is named after him. Pretty cool!
Kannapolis Middle School in NC (7th grade student)
131
Can you explain to me how do you do your job?
     Kris Wetterstrand, M.S.: Working with the Sequences, Maps and Bacterial Artificial Chromosome (BAC) Libraries Program and the ENCODE (ENCyclopedia Of DNA Elements) project. My office's role is to fund research. So, I am not in a lab, but I work to support labs that conduct research. I attend a lot of meetings, do a lot of thinking and get to interact with a lot of great people.
Flint Northern Academy in MI (11th grade student)
132
what made you want to become a scientist? And how do it feel to help people?
     Alan Guttmacher, M.D.: Developing new research tools to translate the findings of the Human Genome Project (HGP) into new diagnostic tests and therapies. In fact, what made me want to be a scientist was, most of all, the desire to help people (and, also, that I am curious and interested in finding out things that no one has ever known before). It is an incredibly wonderful feeling when you are part of a scientific team that discovers some information than then translates into helping people - for instance, by leading to a new cure for a disease or even a way to prevent the disease from occurring. It is hard for me to imagine anything that can be satisfying as doing work that you know is helping other people. Of course, many jobs allow you to do that, but scientific and medical research is certainly among them.
Flint Northern Academy in MI (12th grade student)
133
What is Autism? I heard it is caused by Fragile X and Phenylkentonuria
     Don Hadley, M.S., C.G.C.: Researching the components of a genetic counseling session, including how people are informed of genetic disorders and how they make decisions regarding genetic testing. According to the National Autism Association, Autism impacts the normal development of the brain in the areas of social interaction, communication skills, and cognitive function. Individuals with autism typically have difficulties in verbal and non-verbal communication, social interactions, and leisure or play activities. Autism is diagnosed four times more often in boys than girls. Its prevalence is not affected by race, region, or socio-economic status. Since autism was first diagnosed in the U.S. the occurrence has climbed to an alarming one in 150 people across the country. Autism can result from many different causes and can include Fragile X syndrome, as well as other genetic conditions. We suspect that it may also have an environmental component, meaning that certain environmental conditions or exposures can increase the chance that a person will develop autism. It is a complex disorder that may involve both genetic and environmental causes.
SD Citra Kasih (6th grade student)
134
Could you give a brief explanation of the epigenome?
     Samir Kelada, Ph.D., M.P.H.: Identifying genes that confer susceptibility to allergic asthma. I'm impressed that you asked about the epigenome. If DNA is the words in a book, then the epigenome is the way all the words are packed up into pages, chapters, and the whole book. To be more scientific, the epigenome consists of different ways in which DNA is packaged, be it different styles of wrapping up the DNA onto histone proteins, whether the DNA is "marked" by tags (methylation tags) that signal to transcribe (or not) the DNA, and more. Recently it has been shown that the epigenome has a strong effect on traits we used to think were caused by DNA. Twins, who have identical DNA sequence, can have different epigenomes, resulting in different features (slight differences in the way they look, for example).
Liberty Jr.Sr. High School in PA (10th grade student)
135
Does studying DNA ever get boring?
     Belen Hurle, Ph.D.: Generating data for use in developing and refining computational tools for comparing genomic sequence from multiple vertebrate species. Never, ever! Being a genetic researcher feels like decoding important messages everyday. You have this question in your mind and you dig in the DNA database for answers. It gives you so much satisfaction when you finally get your answer. Having said so, genetics has many sub-disciplines and I don't like them all the same. It is important to find your focus and concentrate on that area to maximize the fun.
Athens High School in AL (12th grade student)
136
Is it possible to cross DNA in humans with DNA in animals.
     Larry Thompson, M.S., M.F.A.: Leads the Communications Branch at the Genome Institute. Sure. First of all, humans are animals. And DNA works the same in all living things. Genetic engineers commonly take human DNA and insert it into a wide range of organisms such as bacteria, yeast and even mice, where it works just fine. Scientists have even taken firefly DNA that makes a protein that glows and put it in plants. These experiements in which DNA is moved across species dramatically shows the unity of life as it has evolved across the planet -- and across time.
Athens High School in AL (12th grade student)
137
Do you think that as we continue to unlock answers in the genome and DNA itself, further ethical problems will arise?
     Erin Ramos, Ph.D., M.P.H.: Supports multi-disciplinary research in epidemiology and genomics that encourages 1) the application of genomic technologies to existing population and clinical studies and 2) the development of new population resources for investigation of genetic and environmental contributions to complex diseases. Yes, as we learn more and more about the human genome and try to apply what we learn to improving health and preventing disease, ethical issues will continue to arise. It is important to consider and address these ethical issues and continue to work hard to make sure that the benefits of what we learn are made available to people around the world.
Athens High School in AL (12th grade student)
138
Why do some animals that seem simpler that humans, such as frogs, have more genes than humans?
     Kris Wetterstrand, M.S.: Working with the Sequences, Maps and Bacterial Artificial Chromosome (BAC) Libraries Program and the ENCODE (ENCyclopedia Of DNA Elements) project. Are frogs simpler, or are they just smaller? You are basically asking about the evolution of genomes. I think this is a fascinating topic. For humans, the answer is that we may have fewer genes, but we produce multiple and different proteins from those genes.
Abbeville High School in SC (12th grade student)
139
What is the relationship between telomerase and cancer?
     Donna Krasnewich, M.D., Ph.D.: Investigating diseases resulting from abnormal metabolism of carbohydrates. Telomeres is the DNA at the very tips of chromosomes. Telomerase is an enzyme that breaks down telomeres. The study of telomeres has been very exciting in the past few years because it appears that telomerase is very active in cancer cells, more than normal cells. Scientists are thinking that if they can find a drug that changes the activity of telomerase, it might be useful in treating cancer. As with all treatments, one also has to think of the side effects. Remember that telomeres also appear to change with aging. How drugs that affect telomerase will affect the processes of aging, need to be thought about as well.
Carvin School Inc. Puerto Rico (12th grade student)
140
Was Rosalind Franklin ripped off?!
     Carla Easter, Ph.D.: Creates and implements genetic education programs. Works with the branch to create science education products for high school students. In my opinion, it took a longer than expected to give her the credit she deserved. In recent years, more and more people have recognized her phenomenal contributions, and the fact that you asked about her is a testament to this.
Princeton High School in NJ (11th grade student)
141
In theory, is it posible to modify a gene to prevent cancer?
     Dale Lea, R.N., M.P.H., C.G.C., F.A.A.N.: Developing genetics, health education and community involvement programs and resources, and translating genetic and genomic information for the public. In theory, it is possible to modify a gene to prevent cancer. The science has not yet advanced to where a gene can be modified to prevent cancer. For example, one cause of hereditary breast cancer is a mutation in a BRCA1 or BRCA2 gene. Currently, it is not possible to modify a BRCA1 or BRCA2 gene mutation to prevent a person from developing hereditary breast cancer. However, gene testing of cancer cells and tumors is being done to determine a specific treatment based on the genetic makeup of the cancer. For more information about gene-based treatments for cancer go to www.cancer.gov.
Scarlet Oaks in OH (11th grade student)
142
How many years of college does it usually take to become a geneticist?
     Samir Kelada, Ph.D., M.P.H.: Identifying genes that confer susceptibility to allergic asthma. The answer depends on what kind of geneticist you want to be. I'm a research geneticist, and that took 4 years of college and then another 4-5 years of graduate school. If you want to be a medical geneticist working with patients, it would take 4 years of college, 4 years of medical school, and then some additional residency training. So those are long roads to take, but they can be extremely satisfying and gratifying! You can do other types of genetics work, in a research lab or diagnostics lab, that would only take the 4 years of college. So there are different options to consider.
Athens High School in AL (11th grade student)
143
How do you guys extract DNA from ?
     Kris Wetterstrand, M.S.: Working with the Sequences, Maps and Bacterial Artificial Chromosome (BAC) Libraries Program and the ENCODE (ENCyclopedia Of DNA Elements) project. While it's not always this simple, you could actually extract DNA from a strawberry with detergent, salt and alcohol.
Kannapolis Middle School in NC (7th grade student)
144
Are you ever consulted by shows such as csi to see if their information on the show is accurate?
     Larry Thompson, M.S., M.F.A.: Leads the Communications Branch at the Genome Institute. Yes, we definitely get calls from Hollywood movie and television producers and writers, usually when they are testing an idea for a script they are writing or producing. We also get many calls from documentary producers who are exploring some new area of this exciting new science. They will come and interview our scientists and shoot b-roll in our laboratories. Genome scientists try to be helpful because we think this stuff is cool.
Abbeville High School in SC (12th grade student)
145
How is sickle cell anemia formed in your genes and is there a cure
     Alan Guttmacher, M.D.: Developing new research tools to translate the findings of the Human Genome Project (HGP) into new diagnostic tests and therapies. Sickle cell disease (SCD) occurs when a person inherits mutations, or variations, in both copies of a specific gene on chromosome #11 - the copy inherited from the mother and the copy inherited from the father. There is no true "cure" yet for SCD (except, possibly for bone marrow transplant, which is a quite expensive, complicated, and difficult procedure), but there are some treatments that can be quite helpful, such as a medication called "hydroxyurea." We are hard at work, however, developing even better treatments and, one day, true cures - and even ways to prevent SCD from occurring.
Flint Northern Academy in MI (11th grade student)
146
How does bioinformatics fit into the big picture of DNA research?
     Kris Wetterstrand, M.S.: Working with the Sequences, Maps and Bacterial Artificial Chromosome (BAC) Libraries Program and the ENCODE (ENCyclopedia Of DNA Elements) project. DNA research generates a LOT of information. One human genome alone is 3 billion bits of information. Scientists have to store all this data (were talking lots of disk space) and analyze the data (by some very smart computer programmers).
Scarlet Oaks in OH (11th grade student)
147
Wright Business School in OK (Higher Education student)
148
I like Genetics whatever i'm still young (12 years old), do you know the best website about Genetics?
     Sarah Harding M.P.H.: Creates and implements community engagement programs focusing on genetics. I love genetics! and I'm definitely older than 12 :). Genome.gov is a great website about genetics. Another great one is http://learn.genetics.utah.edu/...they have lots of fun stuff to do!
Therizino (6th grade student)
149
What is the size of the entire human genome?
     Belen Hurle, Ph.D.: Generating data for use in developing and refining computational tools for comparing genomic sequence from multiple vertebrate species. If you are talking about the number of bases or "letters" it would be three billion letters! That is awfully long. If you were using a typewriter it would take two hundred 1,000 page phone books to type it all. Although long the actual DNA molecule is incredibly tiny and the cell manages to pack all its DNA in its nucleus with no problems.
Scarlet Oaks in OH (11th grade student)
150
Do histones contribute to our genetic expression, or are they mostly just anchoring devices?
     Samir Kelada, Ph.D., M.P.H.: Identifying genes that confer susceptibility to allergic asthma. Nice question! Histones do contribute to our gene expression. Histones are modified by methylation signals that either encourage the histone to unwrap and let the DNA be transcribed, or remain closed and so the DNA remains silent. So the histones have both structural and functional roles.
St. Ignatius College Prep in IL (12th grade student)
151
How much is a yearly salalry for most geneticsts
     Carla Easter, Ph.D.: Creates and implements genetic education programs. Works with the branch to create science education products for high school students. The salaries for individuals in the field of genetics vary greatly depending on the occupation. It is hard to give you an estimate of the yearly salary because there are so many the different types of jobs. For a good estimate of salaries, visit the National Institutes of Health Office of Science Education LifeWorks webite at: http://science.education.nih.gov/LifeWorks.nsf/feature/index.htm. This site contains a number of career profiles, including their salaries.
Athens High School in AL (11th grade student)
152
How likely is a Jurassic Park scenario in the future using early human/Neanderthal DNA?
     Larry Thompson, M.S., M.F.A.: Leads the Communications Branch at the Genome Institute. It's not clear that we have enough early human or Neanderthal DNA to try reproductively cloning a person from the past. But some scientists have suggested trying a Jurassic Park-like experiment with mammoth DNA, since an entire wooly mammoth was found frozen since the Ice Age and has been preserved. Presumeably, there would be plenty of DNA in that tissue for such an experiment, but I don't think anyone has worked out the technology to keep the DNA intact and figure how how to get it into an egg or what animal would serve as the surrogate mother -- maybe an elephant.
St. Ignatius College Prep in IL (12th grade student)
153
Could you explain the epigenome?
     Kris Wetterstrand, M.S.: Working with the Sequences, Maps and Bacterial Artificial Chromosome (BAC) Libraries Program and the ENCODE (ENCyclopedia Of DNA Elements) project. The genome is the DNA. The epigenome refers to additional chemical groups attached to the DNA. These other chemicals actually convey information that is important to how the genome works.
Liberty Jr.Sr. High School in PA (10th grade student)
154
what advice would you give to students who are planning to take the A.P Biology Exam?
     Alan Guttmacher, M.D.: Developing new research tools to translate the findings of the Human Genome Project (HGP) into new diagnostic tests and therapies. The obvious advice: study hard ahead of time and be relaxed when you take the exam. Also, while you want to approach it seriously, not to get too caught up in the results of the exam. Sometimes doing badly on exams can even be helpful in the long run, if you use it to energize, rather than defeat you. I failed some exams early in medical school, but went on to do fine, because I used the experience to encourage me simply to go back and learn the subject matter better.
Wekiva High School in FL (10th grade student)
155
If your parent is diagnosed with cancer what are the chances that the child or his brothers and sisters will carry this disease?
     Don Hadley, M.S., C.G.C.: Researching the components of a genetic counseling session, including how people are informed of genetic disorders and how they make decisions regarding genetic testing. Most cancers are not inherited. In fact, it is estimated that only about 5-10 of cancer has a hereditary basis. With that said, if you have a close relative who has been diagnosed with a cancer, your risk is somewhat higher than a person who does not have a family history of cancer. This may be a general question, but if this question is about your personal risks, I would encourage you to contact a genetic counselor (GC) near to your home to discuss this further. You can find a GC by going on the web site for the National Society of Genetic Counselors (http://www.nsgc.org/resourcelink.cfm) Also, you can find a lot of information through the National Cancer Institute (cancer.gov) Thanks for contacting us.
Evan Ryan in MA (7th grade student)
156
If all of the "junk" DNA was removed from the genome, could we still encode for a human being?
     Kris Wetterstrand, M.S.: Working with the Sequences, Maps and Bacterial Artificial Chromosome (BAC) Libraries Program and the ENCODE (ENCyclopedia Of DNA Elements) project. Nope. The "junk" is not junk at all. It has information about how the genome should work. When genes are "on". Which genes are "on".
Princeton High School in NJ (12th grade student)
157
How many years of schooling, do you have to take, in order to have a job, such as yours?
     Carla Easter, Ph.D.: Creates and implements genetic education programs. Works with the branch to create science education products for high school students. I went to college for four years and majored in Microbiology. I then spent six years in graduate school to get a PhD in Biology with an emphasis on Molecular Genetics.
Shikellamy High School in PA (10th grade student)
158
Could you please distinguish between a polymorphism and an allele? Thanks
     Samir Kelada, Ph.D., M.P.H.: Identifying genes that confer susceptibility to allergic asthma. That's a good question, one that's a little tricky to answer. So I will try and let's see how it goes. A polymorphism is a sequence difference that is present in at least 1% of the population. An allele, on the other hand, doesn't have the 1% frequency requirement. Any sequence change (or mutation) that is found can be called an allele, regardless of whether it's present in 1 person in the entire world or half the world's population.
Francis Howell North in MO (teacher)
159
Shikellamy High School in PA (9th grade student)
160
Since DNA can never be completely destroyed, what will happen if you exspose it to complete radiation?
     Kris Wetterstrand, M.S.: Working with the Sequences, Maps and Bacterial Artificial Chromosome (BAC) Libraries Program and the ENCODE (ENCyclopedia Of DNA Elements) project. DNA can be destroyed. It will degrade under many conditions. Radiation especially will affect DNA.
Flint Northern Academy in MI (10th grade student)
161
What is MPH and what does it stand for?
     Sarah Harding M.P.H.: Creates and implements community engagement programs focusing on genetics. An MPH stands for Master's in Public Health. I went to grad school for two years and learned about preventive health and how new technologies will affect the public and improve the public's health. Go Huskies!
Alpharetta High School in GA (9th grade student)
162
How does DNA affect your genitals?
     Dale Lea, R.N., M.P.H., C.G.C., F.A.A.N.: Developing genetics, health education and community involvement programs and resources, and translating genetic and genomic information for the public. Each of us has 23 pairs of chromosomes with one pair involved in determining the gender of the person whether they are male or female - females have two X chromosomes and males have an X and a Y. There are genes on the X and Y chromosome that determine male and female characteristics.
Bennett Smed School in MN (9th grade )
163
How many letters are in DNA
     Samir Kelada, Ph.D., M.P.H.: Identifying genes that confer susceptibility to allergic asthma. Well, technically speaking, DNA has 3 letters, D, N, and A. How's that for being a smart alec? Scientifically speaking, which is what you probably are getting at, DNA is composed for 4 letters, A, C, G and T. These 4 letters are strung together, forming a total of 3 billion letters in the genome in total.
School of Michigan in MI ()
164
What is BAC and YAC?
     Kris Wetterstrand, M.S.: Working with the Sequences, Maps and Bacterial Artificial Chromosome (BAC) Libraries Program and the ENCODE (ENCyclopedia Of DNA Elements) project. BAC stands for bacterial artificial chromosome. YAC stands for yeast artificial chromosome.
Scarlet Oaks in OH (11th grade student)
165
Kannapolis Middle School in NC (7th grade student)
166
How does gene therapy work?
     Donna Krasnewich, M.D., Ph.D.: Investigating diseases resulting from abnormal metabolism of carbohydrates. Gene therapy is used to treat genetic disorders by a very special medical strategy. Because we know that many disorders are caused by changes in individual genes, the strategy is to put a gene in the body that has normal sequence and function. There have been many attempts at this with the problem being: the gene must make enough of the normal protein to cure the disease, also, sometimes it is really difficult to get the gene to go to cells that have the disease. For example, gene therapy for a cystic fibrosis, that affects the lungs, must be directed toward lung cells. So far, the greatest successes in gene therapy have been in disorders of the immune system where the patient's own bone marrow cells, which contain immune cells, are withdrawn from the body, the functional gene is inserted, and the bone marrow is given back to the patient. Hopefully, these new cells, with the gene inserted, will function and help the patient feel better.
Scarlet Oaks in OH (12th grade student)
167
What school did you go attend to learn about DNA?
     Kris Wetterstrand, M.S.: Working with the Sequences, Maps and Bacterial Artificial Chromosome (BAC) Libraries Program and the ENCODE (ENCyclopedia Of DNA Elements) project. I went to the University of Miami in Florida for my Bachelor's in biology. I went to Cornell University in New York for my Master's in genetics.
Kannapolis Middle School in NC (7th grade student)
168
Can we find any permanent solution for genetic diseases like Psoriasis, Arthritis, Parkinsons etc. in this post human genomic era ?
     Alan Guttmacher, M.D.: Developing new research tools to translate the findings of the Human Genome Project (HGP) into new diagnostic tests and therapies. Excellent question. I think we will find such solutions - if enough researchers from around the world work together to find them. By understanding the genetics mechanisms that playa role in these diseases, we gain important new insights into the biological pathways that actually lead to them - and thus new ways to interfere with those pathways in ways to treat the diseases more effectively, or even to truly prevent them. One point, however: I think we are not yet in the post-human genome era. We are just at the start of the genome era, which can be said to have started on April 14, 2003, with the finished sequence of the human genome on that date.
ABABU Center for Biological Information Technology, RAJAHMUNDRY, INDIA (Higher Education teacher)
169
What happens to DNA when you die?
     Kris Wetterstrand, M.S.: Working with the Sequences, Maps and Bacterial Artificial Chromosome (BAC) Libraries Program and the ENCODE (ENCyclopedia Of DNA Elements) project. The DNA will degrade over time depending on the environmental conditions.
Kayla Reyes in PA (9th grade student)
170
If you are addicted to drugs, does it appear in your genetic code?
     Don Hadley, M.S., C.G.C.: Researching the components of a genetic counseling session, including how people are informed of genetic disorders and how they make decisions regarding genetic testing. Your genetic code (DNA) can not determine if you are addicted to drugs. However, it may be able to determine if a person has a genetic make-up which increases their chances of becoming addicted if they use drugs. We are still learning about genetic changes which predispose a person to risks like this. For example, some may have greater risk to become obese; that doesn't mean that they will become obese if they carefully watch their diet, exercise, etc. The same is true for drug addiction; even if a person has greater risk, they can avoid that risk by not using drugs. I hope this helps. Good question.
Flint Northern Academy in MI (11th grade student)
171
How much more similar is the DNA in siblings than parents? Or can you tell at all?
     Belen Hurle, Ph.D.: Generating data for use in developing and refining computational tools for comparing genomic sequence from multiple vertebrate species. For each gene that you have, your father gave you one copy of it and your mother gave you another. So theoretically you are 50% like your father and 50% like your mother. This is not entirely accurate because we all have a number of new mutations across the genome that are new and unique to us, meaning they were not present in either of our parents. Siblings get random combinations of genes from their parents. This creates a range of similarities between siblings -- but the AVERAGE similarity across their genomes is 50%.
Athens High School in AL (12th grade student)
172
What new discoveries have you guys uncovered lately?
     Samir Kelada, Ph.D., M.P.H.: Identifying genes that confer susceptibility to allergic asthma. There are new discoveries coming out every week! Here a few recent ones that are fun: 1. Twins are not totally genetically identical! They differ in their epigenomes - not the actual DNA sequence but the way the DNA is packaged and read. 2. Some common diseases are the result of small changes in our DNA, diseases like heart disease, diabetes, and more. 3. Certain traits in dogs, like the racing speed of whippets and greyhounds, have ben traced to genetics too. How's that for exciting!
Alpharetta High School in GA (9th grade student)
173
Do genes control absolutly every aspect of your body? Like, do they control health, weight, and disposition?
     Alan Guttmacher, M.D.: Developing new research tools to translate the findings of the Human Genome Project (HGP) into new diagnostic tests and therapies. Genes probably fully control almost nothing about us; however, they partially control almost everything about us. That is because almost all human traits and diseases result from a complex interaction of multiple genetic factors with such other influences as diet, lifestyle, physical environment, culture, and beliefs.
Shikellamy High School in PA (9th grade student)
174
Is there a gene that makes you fight?
     Erin Ramos, Ph.D., M.P.H.: Supports multi-disciplinary research in epidemiology and genomics that encourages 1) the application of genomic technologies to existing population and clinical studies and 2) the development of new population resources for investigation of genetic and environmental contributions to complex diseases. That is a very good question. Human behaviors like being aggressive are very complicated traits. These kinds of traits are likely influenced by our genes and probably even more so by our environment. There have been a few studies that have tried to identify genes associated with being aggressive, but the results have not been conclusive. Again, this is probably because behaviors are very complicated and our environment and other non-genetic factors strongly influence our behaviors.
Kittanning Senior High School in PA (10th grade student)
175
How much DNA is in your body?
     Kris Wetterstrand, M.S.: Working with the Sequences, Maps and Bacterial Artificial Chromosome (BAC) Libraries Program and the ENCODE (ENCyclopedia Of DNA Elements) project. Each cell in our body contains 2 copies of our entire 3 billion base pair genome.
Kittanning Senior High School in PA (10th grade student)
176
What classes are important to take if you want to major in science?
     Sarah Harding M.P.H.: Creates and implements community engagement programs focusing on genetics. It's important to take your basic science classes related to whatever major you're interested in...biology, chemistry, math, etc. But it's also important to take other classes that you're interested in, especially during your undergrad work. Classes like ethics, sociology, and anthropology are great for understanding broader implications of science.
Alpharetta High School in GA (9th grade student)
177
How many years have you been studying DNA?
     Samir Kelada, Ph.D., M.P.H.: Identifying genes that confer susceptibility to allergic asthma. I've been studying DNA for about 7 years. That's about one fifth of my life! And I do it because I like it - it's fun and exciting!
Athens High School in AL (12th grade student)
178
i love science!
     Sarah Harding M.P.H.: Creates and implements community engagement programs focusing on genetics. Thanks for your enthusiasm! We all love science as well! Happy DNA Day!
Alpharetta High School in GA (9th grade student)
183
I have two Australian Shepherds who are black tri color (black, white, and copper). There are blue merle Aussies, also, and I would like to know if transposons cause the merle effect of the coat color. Thank you. My Molecular Biology class is having a party now, complete with DNA hats and DNA cupcakes. Eleanor Jones
     Heidi Parker, Ph.D.: Comparing the dog genome to the human genome in an effort to answer questions about disease in both dogs and humans. Yes, it was found that the insertion of a transposon called a SINE is responsible for the merle coloring. The insertion is in a gene called SILV which is involved in pigmentation. These particular transposons are very common in the dog genome.
Academy of the Sacred Heart Bloomfield Hills in MI (teacher)
187
You guys have alot of letters after your names, what do all of those letters stand for?
     Dale Lea, R.N., M.P.H., C.G.C., F.A.A.N.: Developing genetics, health education and community involvement programs and resources, and translating genetic and genomic information for the public. The letters after my name are RN, MPH, CGC, FAAN. These stand for: RN - registered nurse MPH - masters degree in public health CGC - certified genetic counselor FAAN - Fellow of the American Academy of Nurses Other letters you may see after my colleagues' names are: MD - physician PhD - doctoral degree; doctor of philosophy
Alpharetta High School in GA (9th grade student)
192
What is the major goal in DNA research at this time?
     Kris Wetterstrand, M.S.: Working with the Sequences, Maps and Bacterial Artificial Chromosome (BAC) Libraries Program and the ENCODE (ENCyclopedia Of DNA Elements) project. Unfortunately, I can't pick one goal. I'll give you a few: improve sequencing technology so we can do more sequencing in the future, understand how the genome works through identifying functional elements and determining the genetic sequences involved in human disease.
Athens High School in AL (12th grade student)

Information - Moderator Hi, chatters! A reminder that the winner of the American Society of Human Genetics essay contest will be announced at noon. Also, if there are any Spanish speakers out there, feel free to send in your questions in Spanish. Dr. Belen Hurle is here and ready to reply in Espanol!


194
how many hours a day do you work
     Samir Kelada, Ph.D., M.P.H.: Identifying genes that confer susceptibility to allergic asthma. Hah! That's fun. I work about 8-9 hours a day, a very reasonable work schedule in my opinion. Some people work more than I do, say 10-12 hours a day. But I find that I can get my work done usually in 8 hours, and then I go home and do other things I like to do, like play with my cats, read books, and ride my bike.
Holy Family Catholic High School in MN (9th grade student)
195
Which website is the best to learn DNA?
     Sarah Harding M.P.H.: Creates and implements community engagement programs focusing on genetics. A great place to start is www.genome.gov. From that site are lots of links to other great online resources.
Therizino (6th grade student)
196
Why is only .1% of the DNA the only thing that changes the way a living organism looks?
     Alan Guttmacher, M.D.: Developing new research tools to translate the findings of the Human Genome Project (HGP) into new diagnostic tests and therapies. Actually, it is not the only thing, since non-genetic factors also influence how an organism looks. For instance, no matter what variations in genes having to do with height you inherit, if your diet does not contain sufficient calories and nutrients, you will not be tall. Moreover, the 99.9% of the genome that is the same in any two people does, of course, have much to do with how we look, as it is responsible for how many eyes ands ears we have and all those other features that we recognize as characteristically human...
Abbeville High School in SC (12th grade student)
197
Kris Wetterstran: You said that there are more cells from microscopic organsisms on our bodies than our own cells. Does their DNA affect our own DNA ?
     Kris Wetterstrand, M.S.: Working with the Sequences, Maps and Bacterial Artificial Chromosome (BAC) Libraries Program and the ENCODE (ENCyclopedia Of DNA Elements) project. The DNA of microbes doesn't necessarily affect our DNA. But the their presence definitely affects how our bodies work, for example how we digest food or how we are susceptible to infection.
ABABU Center for Biological Information Technology, RAJAHMUNDRY, INDIA (Higher Education student)
198
Is intelligence related to any gene?
     Erin Ramos, Ph.D., M.P.H.: Supports multi-disciplinary research in epidemiology and genomics that encourages 1) the application of genomic technologies to existing population and clinical studies and 2) the development of new population resources for investigation of genetic and environmental contributions to complex diseases. That is a very good and complicated question. There have been studies that have tried to correlate genes with intelligence. But, these studies are hard to interpret because traits like intelligence are very complicated are likely influenced by genes and even more so by our environment (non-genetic factors).
Preeti Govindas, M.Sc, SMV Center for Biotechnology (Higher Education student)
199
Why is today DNA day? Is there a certain reason?
     Sarah Harding M.P.H.: Creates and implements community engagement programs focusing on genetics. DNA Day is celebrated every April 25, as a commemoration of finishing the Human Genome Project in 2003. It also marks the description of the double helix by Watson and Crick in 1953.
Alpharetta High School in GA (9th grade student)
200
How long does it take to complete education from college to residency. Additionaly, how long does specialization for a certain practice take?
     David Adams, M.D., Ph.D.: Studying rare inborn errors of metabolism and other rare genetic syndromes to understand the disease process and identify potential treatments. There are several paths to take, but here is a general outline: -College ~ 4 years -Medical school ~ 4 years -Residency varies from 3 years (for example medicine and pediatrics) to 8 years (some neurosurgery programs). -Specialization ranges from about 1 to 4 years depending on what you want to do.
Alpharetta High School in GA (9th grade student)
201
Is it possible to change my DNA so that, say, if i had brown eyes I could instead have blue or green eyes?
     Kris Wetterstrand, M.S.: Working with the Sequences, Maps and Bacterial Artificial Chromosome (BAC) Libraries Program and the ENCODE (ENCyclopedia Of DNA Elements) project. You couldn't change your eye color now. You could try contact lenses. However, you bring up a good point. Would you want to pick the eye color of your children if you could? Is eye color important enough to do that? Would you want to keep your children from getting a genetic disease?
Athens High School in AL (11th grade student)
202
Does it take the same amount of time in college to become an animal geneticists as it does for a human geneticists?
     Carla Easter, Ph.D.: Creates and implements genetic education programs. Works with the branch to create science education products for high school students. There are many programs in human genetics and animal genetics offered by colleges, and I would imagine that the time to complete a college degree in these fields would be similar. In addition, one could do more specialized work in these fields by pursuing professional or graduate degrees after college.
Athens High School in AL (12th grade student)

Information - Moderator Hi Chatters. We are experiencing a technical problem that has locked up the chatroom for the moment. We are still receiving all of your questions, so keep them coming. We'll be back on the air in a few minutes, so there will be a slight lag in answering questions.


204
What is Dna profiling and what are the benefits of using it
     Alan Guttmacher, M.D.: Developing new research tools to translate the findings of the Human Genome Project (HGP) into new diagnostic tests and therapies. It depends upon exactly what one means by "DNA profiling." One application of that term is in forensics - the use of DNA in the legal system - for instance, to determine who might be responsible for a specific crime. Another is in medical care, for instance, to individualize care based on one's individual genetic makeup. That use of profiling is incredibly promising, as it will allow us to create individualized disease prevention and treatment strategies for each person, which should prove much more effective than our current "one size fits all" approach in health care.
Scarlet Oaks in OH (12th grade student)
205
how did you get into biology?
     Phyllis Frosst, Ph.D.: Investigating genetic discrimination, direct to consumer marketing of genetic tests and pharmacogenomics. I always loved animals, and like a lot of people in High School, briefly considered being a veterinarian. It probably traces back to my dad watching a lot of nature documentaries when I was young. I always loved science and understanding the natural world; in high school, biology was my favorite of all the science courses I took. As I moved further through school, understanding how we worked (what an amazing machine!) became the problem I wanted to solve most of all.
Holy Family Catholic High School in MN (9th grade student)
206
Could there one day be a clone of the Wooly Mammoth
     Larry Thompson, M.S., M.F.A.: Leads the Communications Branch at the Genome Institute. Yes, I answered this one earlier, so search the answers for mammoth and you see that some people think that it might be possible to clone a wooly mammoth.
East Forest High School in PA (8th grade student)
207
What causes DNA to mutate?
     Belen Hurle, Ph.D.: Generating data for use in developing and refining computational tools for comparing genomic sequence from multiple vertebrate species. Many things can damage DNA: ultraviolet light for instance, radiation or exposure to certain chemicals. Fortunately the cell has built in mechanisms to detect mutations and correct them. One of the elegant characteristics of DNA is the REDUNDANCY of information. Because it is a double-stranded molecule it is unlikely that you would have a mutation affecting the same location on both strands: the cell always has an "original strand" to recover the information and repair the mutation on the other strand.
Holy Family Catholic High School in MN (9th grade student)

Information - Moderator The chatroom is back up. So, please send your questions in! We're getting many good ones this year.


209
Alpharetta High School in GA (9th grade student)
210
What does genetics have to do with your ability to grow and gain muscle?
     Heidi Parker, Ph.D.: Comparing the dog genome to the human genome in an effort to answer questions about disease in both dogs and humans. There are many genes involved in muscle cell development just like any other cell type in the body. Mutations have been found in some of these genes that can cause an increase in muscle mass. Originally these were found in meat producing animals. More recently one such mutation was discovered in a gene called myostatin that both increased muscle and possibly improved racing performance in a racing breed of dog.
Alpharetta High School in GA (9th grade student)
211
Will I get to pick my kids' eye color before they are born?
     Erin Ramos, Ph.D., M.P.H.: Supports multi-disciplinary research in epidemiology and genomics that encourages 1) the application of genomic technologies to existing population and clinical studies and 2) the development of new population resources for investigation of genetic and environmental contributions to complex diseases. We used to think that eye color was controlled by one or two genes at most. However, new studies suggest that traits like eye color and hair color are influenced by many genes. So, with our current technology, it will probably be pretty difficult to pick the eye color of your children
Kittanning Senior High School in PA (10th grade student)
212
Do you get any DNA from your parents?
     Belen Hurle, Ph.D.: Generating data for use in developing and refining computational tools for comparing genomic sequence from multiple vertebrate species. You get 50% of your DNA from your father and 50% from your mother.
Shikellamy High School in PA (9th grade student)
213
Is it complicated to extract DNA?
     Phyllis Frosst, Ph.D.: Investigating genetic discrimination, direct to consumer marketing of genetic tests and pharmacogenomics. In general DNA extraction is pretty simple! On the education pages of www.genome.gov, you can learn how to extract DNA from a strawberry with ingredients found in your home. In a laboratory, extraction from blood or a cheek swab takes about 45 minutes, there are kits that make it very straightforward. But it also depends a bit on what you're trying to get DNA from. Think about dinosaur bones, that's probably pretty challenging.
Therizino (6th grade student)
214
Do genes have anything to do with your hair type or how shiny it will be?
     Dale Lea, R.N., M.P.H., C.G.C., F.A.A.N.: Developing genetics, health education and community involvement programs and resources, and translating genetic and genomic information for the public. Genes are responsible for all of our features. I suspect that the color, quality and texture of our hair is controlled by several genes interacting, making it a unique quality.
Scarlet Oaks in OH (11th grade student)
215
Do you think that there is a genetic link towards being a serial killer? If so, do you think that jobs and colleges someday will be allowed to scan for those genes? Or is this considered genetic discrimination?
     Colleen McBride, Ph.D.: Developing new interventions to promote changes in people's behavior in ways that will lower their risk of developing certain diseases. No, it is unlikely that there is any serial killer gene. Personality is a very complicated mixture of genetics and social experiences. Although traits like aggressiveness and hostility are affected by genetics, they are also influenced by things like parenting, and social experiences such as teasing and ridicule. So it would be nearly impossible to based on genetics alone, identify anyone with any type of criminal motives.
Clarkstown High School North in NY (9th grade teacher)
216
How many people are chatting right now?
     Sarah Harding M.P.H.: Creates and implements community engagement programs focusing on genetics. Right now we have about 30 people in this room answering questions. Everyone is hard at work to answer as many questions as possible through the day!
Alpharetta High School in GA (9th grade student)
217
How many people work there?
     Larry Thompson, M.S., M.F.A.: Leads the Communications Branch at the Genome Institute. When you ask "there" do you mean the genome institute or the National Institutes of Health or the entire field of genomics? I can tell you that the National Institutes of Health, which is made up of 27 institutes and centers conducting medical research in just about any field you can imagine, employs some 18,000 people, from physicians and PH.D. researchers to computer programmers to budget analysts to writers. The National Human Genome Research employs around 600 people.
Kannapolis Middle School in NC (7th grade student)
218
Are there genes and DNA in plants and soil and stuff?
     Kris Wetterstrand, M.S.: Working with the Sequences, Maps and Bacterial Artificial Chromosome (BAC) Libraries Program and the ENCODE (ENCyclopedia Of DNA Elements) project. Yes, there are definitely genes in plants. Plants have DNA and genes just like humans do. There are also genes in the microscopic organisms in soil.
Kittanning Senior High School in PA (10th grade student)
219
are humans still evolving?
     Alan Guttmacher, M.D.: Developing new research tools to translate the findings of the Human Genome Project (HGP) into new diagnostic tests and therapies. Despite occasional evidence to the contrary, yes. As in all other species, evolution never stops occurring in humans. Evolution occurs slowly, of course, so it is hard to actually "see" it happening, but we are continuing to evolve. One can imagine, for instance, that if global warming persists for a sufficient number of human generations, we might evolve in ways that would allow us to survive more effectively in the new environment of the earth. Of course, evolution, does happen slowly, so it is a much better idea to combat global warming itself, rather than counting on our adopting to it somehow...
St. Ignatius College Prep in IL (12th grade student)
220
Besides insulin, what other hormones or proteins do we use Recombinant DNA to synthesize?
     David Adams, M.D., Ph.D.: Studying rare inborn errors of metabolism and other rare genetic syndromes to understand the disease process and identify potential treatments. Lots! Here are some examples: human growth hormone, follicle-stimulating hormone, some blood factors (Factor 8), erythropoietin (famous for sports doping), tissue plasminogen activator (used as a clot-buster for some strokes and heart attacks), interferon and many others! Check out http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_recombinant_proteins for more examples (although I don't vouch for the accuracy of the entire page, there are some nice comments)
Clarkstown High School North in NY (9th grade teacher)
221
Do you watch CSI?
     Francis Collins, M.D., Ph.D.: Identifying and understanding genes involved in human disease, including type II diabetes. CSI is fun to watch and has done a great deal to make the general public aware of the power of DNA.
Abbeville High School in SC (10th grade student)
222
como es el ADN de las vacas
     Belen Hurle, Ph.D.: Generating data for use in developing and refining computational tools for comparing genomic sequence from multiple vertebrate species. el DNA de las vacas es muy similar al DNA de las personas, como un 85% identico mas o menos.
Kannapolis Middle School in NC (7th grade student)
223
In the Human Genome Project, didn't countries around the world work on specific chromosomes?
     Kris Wetterstrand, M.S.: Working with the Sequences, Maps and Bacterial Artificial Chromosome (BAC) Libraries Program and the ENCODE (ENCyclopedia Of DNA Elements) project. Yes. The HGP divided up the chromosomes among different DNA sequencing centers around the world. There are centers in Britain, France Germany, China, Japan and the US.
Scarlet Oaks in OH (11th grade student)
224
Que estudio tu en la universidad?
     Belen Hurle, Ph.D.: Generating data for use in developing and refining computational tools for comparing genomic sequence from multiple vertebrate species. Yo estudie Biologia en la Universidad de Oviedo en Espana (Spain).
Miguel (10th grade student)
225
If a child is born with health problems, yet the parents do not, then how do you come up with a solution when the heritable traits don't run in the family?
     Dale Lea, R.N., M.P.H., C.G.C., F.A.A.N.: Developing genetics, health education and community involvement programs and resources, and translating genetic and genomic information for the public. Some children have health problems that are genetic due to autosomal recessive genetic inheritance. Recessive inheritance results from each of the parents carrying one copy of a gene mutation while the other copy has the normal version of the gene. When the child has two copies of the changed gene (one from each parent) they may have health issues. Cystic fibrosis is an example. Sometimes a mutation or gene change may arise spontaneously in a child and cause health problems. This is called a sporadic gene mutation.
Shikellamy High School in PA (9th grade student)
226
I am in a 2 year Biotechnology program at my school. Would i have to go to college to get a job or are there any that i can get straight out of high school?
     Carla Easter, Ph.D.: Creates and implements genetic education programs. Works with the branch to create science education products for high school students. In my opinion, in order to get the best jobs in biotechnology, it would be better to get additional schooling after high school. There are many great biotechnology programs offered by community colleges and four-year colleges. For a better sense of the types of jobs that one can do with various degrees, visit the National Institutes of Health Office of Science Education LifeWorks website at http://science.education.nih.gov/LifeWorks.nsf/feature/index.htm.
Scarlet Oaks in OH (11th grade student)
227
Can you explain epigenetics and how this relates to the new study about identical twins DNA not being 100% identiacl after all?
     Phyllis Frosst, Ph.D.: Investigating genetic discrimination, direct to consumer marketing of genetic tests and pharmacogenomics. Epigenetics includes all the modifications made to the DNA molecule, so pretty much everything other than the ACTG sequence. These chemical modifications can include methylation, acetylation and many others, we're learning about now. Identical twins inherit the same DNA sequence as each other, but chemical modifications once they begin to develop as individuals happen independently and result in twins with identical DNA SEQUENCE but not identical DNA.
Newton Falls High School in OH (10th grade student)
228
Have you thought about glow in the dark christmas trees?
     Heidi Parker, Ph.D.: Comparing the dog genome to the human genome in an effort to answer questions about disease in both dogs and humans. I don't think anyone is currently working on developing a glow in the dark Christmas tree but it probably could be done if someone were interested in trying. Molecular biologists often use a protein called GFP or green fluorescent protein to trace expression of other proteins in cells or organisms. This protein glows under ultra-violet lighting. A gene similar to that could be introduced into a pine tree genome and, if it could be expressed in the leaves, it might produce a glowing tree.
Jason in OH (Higher Education student)
229
I understand that it takes many years of education in medical school to become a doctor, but I don't understand what a residence is?
     Alan Guttmacher, M.D.: Developing new research tools to translate the findings of the Human Genome Project (HGP) into new diagnostic tests and therapies. While it varies, the usual series of steps in becoming a doctor are: 1) high school 2) four years of college 3) four years of medical school 4) three to six years of residency 5) (only some medical specialists do this one) tow to four years of fellowship Residency is the period right after medical school when newly minted doctors work, mostly in hospitals, to perfect their craft and to specialize in a certain area, such as pediatrics, surgery, family medicine, dermatology, or in internal medicine. Yes, it is a long road but it is immensely satisfying, in that you are always learning and, most importantly, doing work every day that help other people. Plus, despite the debts that you may take to pay for college and med school, the pay is good...
Alpharetta High School in GA (9th grade student)
230
What is a histone?
     Phyllis Frosst, Ph.D.: Investigating genetic discrimination, direct to consumer marketing of genetic tests and pharmacogenomics. Histones are a class of proteins that that bind to DNA and help it to fold up to fit in the cell, and then to unfold so that it can be made into proteins.
St. Ignatius College Prep in IL (12th grade student)
231
Why is the Human Genome Project considered such a big thing in comparison to other research projects?
     Kris Wetterstrand, M.S.: Working with the Sequences, Maps and Bacterial Artificial Chromosome (BAC) Libraries Program and the ENCODE (ENCyclopedia Of DNA Elements) project. In the field of biology, the HGP was a very large project. It required a lot of money, resources and people working on it. Because the scientific approaches were "new", significant money was needed. The technical challenges of doing the DNA sequencing at that level had to be worked out. Many labs had to split up the work to get it done. For these reasons, a great deal of coordination and working together was required. It really opened biology up to high-throughput, large-scale approaches.
Alpharetta High School in GA (9th grade student)
232
what is the differance between pharmacogenomics and pharmacogenetics ?
     Larry Thompson, M.S., M.F.A.: Leads the Communications Branch at the Genome Institute. The definitions for these terms are not precise but generally in the field, studying genetics is the study of a single gene and the study of genomics is looking at all the genes in a genome. So, by extension, pharmacogenomics would be the development or use of applications effecting the entire genome, perhaps through networks of genes or even effecting epigenetics. But that's generally not how the pharmaceutical industry talks about it. The dominant term is pharmacogenomcis and it is the kind of research that uses the tools of genomic research to develop new, highly targeted treatments.
Samar (Higher Education student)
233
If both of your parents are tall, how is it possible that their child could have dwarfism?
     Dale Lea, R.N., M.P.H., C.G.C., F.A.A.N.: Developing genetics, health education and community involvement programs and resources, and translating genetic and genomic information for the public. There are two possible causes of dwarfism. In some families, each parent carries an autosomal recessive gene for dwarfism. The carrier parents each have a normal version of the gene so they do not have dwarfism. When they have children they have a 1 in 4 chance to each pass on the gene mutation to their child who then will have dwarfism. Dwarfism is also caused by a spontaneous mutation in a child. The mutation is present in either the egg or sperm that is donated to a pregnancy. So the parents do not have dwarfism, but their child does. That child who has dwarfism, has a 1 in 2 chance with each pregnancy, to have a child with dwarfism.
Flint Northern Academy in MI (11th grade student)
234
ok solo diga como es el ADN de los animales
     Belen Hurle, Ph.D.: Generating data for use in developing and refining computational tools for comparing genomic sequence from multiple vertebrate species. El ADN de los animales y el de las plantas es como el de las personas. Esta escrito utilizando las mismas bases A, C, G, T y la misma estructura de doble helice. Los animales tambien tienen chromosomas como nosotros. Lo que varia es el porcentaje de similitud con el DNA humano. Por ejemplo, un chimpanze es 98% identico a un humano y un perro es solo un 85%.
Kannapolis Middle School in NC (7th grade student)
235
I know that Alzheimer's is too a certain degree genetic; however, what environmental factors have been linked to this disease?
     Donna Krasnewich, M.D., Ph.D.: Investigating diseases resulting from abnormal metabolism of carbohydrates. We know that Alzheimer's Disease is caused by changes in both genes and environmental factors; this is known as a "multifactorial disorder". There are several genes that have been associated with an increased risk for Alzheimer's Disease. However, there are environmental factors contributing as well. These studies are still preliminary. Specifically there are ongoing studies looking at how statins, cholesterol lowering drugs, and nicotine may decrease the risk of developing Alzheimer's Disease. These results are not yet in. It is known that a "heart healthy" diet and exercise also lower risk of Alzheimer's disease, probably by lowering cholesterol.
Clarkstown High School North in NY (9th grade teacher)
236
Do you get any days of the week off?
     Kris Wetterstrand, M.S.: Working with the Sequences, Maps and Bacterial Artificial Chromosome (BAC) Libraries Program and the ENCODE (ENCyclopedia Of DNA Elements) project. Most of the time, I get Saturday and Sunday off. Sometimes I have been known to work on the weekends and on holidays.
Alpharetta High School in GA (9th grade student)
237
que tu trata de decir con estudiaste en espana
     Belen Hurle, Ph.D.: Generating data for use in developing and refining computational tools for comparing genomic sequence from multiple vertebrate species. Pues que soy espanola! pero vivo y trabajo en los Estados Unidos desde hace casi 10 anos. Muchos cientificos de todos los paises y continentes vienen a hacer investigacion a los Estados Unidos.
Kannapolis Middle School in NC (7th grade student)
238
Will we be able to choose the sex of our children?
     Colleen McBride, Ph.D.: Developing new interventions to promote changes in people's behavior in ways that will lower their risk of developing certain diseases. Yes, we already have the ability to increase the chance of having a boy or girl at the time of conception. We can also influence the chances of having a boy or girl after conception. However, as a society we are not as comfortable with some of the methods to achieve that end such as abortion.
Zachary High School in LA (10th grade student)
239
Are you forced to write lab notebooks?
     Heidi Parker, Ph.D.: Comparing the dog genome to the human genome in an effort to answer questions about disease in both dogs and humans. Keeping very careful records of all of your experiments is an important part of doing science. When an experiment fails or when it works perfectly you will need to know exactly what was done so that you can repeat it or change it appropriately. You also need to have very precise records of what was done when you go to publish your findings.
Alpharetta High School in GA (9th grade student)
240
Do you think that there will be a future in the field of epigenetics? If so, how do you think it will be used?
     Carla Easter, Ph.D.: Creates and implements genetic education programs. Works with the branch to create science education products for high school students. The future of epigenetics is quite bright. One of the applications will be the research that explores the contributions of epigenetics to disease.
Academy of the Sacred Heart Bloomfield Hills in MI (12th grade student)
241
How much of what you see on programs like CSI is realistic?
     Phyllis Frosst, Ph.D.: Investigating genetic discrimination, direct to consumer marketing of genetic tests and pharmacogenomics. A lot of the technology that you see on shows like CSI is completely factual. Extraction for samples, equipment, techniques etc. What is usually quite exaggerated the time it takes to do these procedures, most lab tests take much more time and usually, samples have to get in line and wait for their turn. Also, the fancy computer displays are usually "enhanced" to look a lot more cool.
Winton Woods High School in OH (12th grade student)
242
que tipo de DNA tine las vacas?
     Belen Hurle, Ph.D.: Generating data for use in developing and refining computational tools for comparing genomic sequence from multiple vertebrate species. Un DNA esencialmente como el tuyo: Las mismas letras , la misma estructura de doble helice, y empaquetado en cromosomas muy similares a los tuyos.Casi todos los genes que los humanos tienen , las vacas tambien los tienen.
Norma Torres and Hannah in NC (7th grade teacher)
243
Can the west nile virus be passed on to the next generation?
     Dale Lea, R.N., M.P.H., C.G.C., F.A.A.N.: Developing genetics, health education and community involvement programs and resources, and translating genetic and genomic information for the public. West nile virus is not hereditary. It is an infection that is carried by mosquitoes. The west nile virus cannot be passed from generation to generation as an inherited disease. For more information about west nile virus go to www.mayoclinic.com/health/west.nile.virus
Alpharetta High School in GA (9th grade student)
244
As we know, thermophiles can survive at high temperatures above 100 degrees.How do they protect their DNA from getting denatured?
     Kris Wetterstrand, M.S.: Working with the Sequences, Maps and Bacterial Artificial Chromosome (BAC) Libraries Program and the ENCODE (ENCyclopedia Of DNA Elements) project. While I am no expert on DNA at high temperatures, I believe that thermophiles use specialized proteins to protect the DNA degradation.
Preeti Govindas, M.Sc, SMV Center for Biotechnology (Higher Education student)
245
What is a codon?
     Heidi Parker, Ph.D.: Comparing the dog genome to the human genome in an effort to answer questions about disease in both dogs and humans. A codon is set of three nucleotides on a strand of DNA or RNA that codes for a single amino acid. This is the way DNA code is translated into a protein.
Alpharetta High School in GA (9th grade student)
246
Is there any relationship between DNA and autism?
     David Adams, M.D., Ph.D.: Studying rare inborn errors of metabolism and other rare genetic syndromes to understand the disease process and identify potential treatments. That is a good question and is the topic of active research. The short answer is that nobody knows whether or not there is a genetic (DNA related) cause to autism. Twin studies and sibling studies are used get at that question. For instance say there are two brothers Tom and Joe. Tom has autism. Is Joe more likely to have autism than someone who is unrelated to Tom? If he is, then you could guess that either genetics has a role, or, if they were brought up the same way, something about their environment put them both at risk. In fact, we observe that for autism there is an increased that a child will have autism if they have a sibling that has autism. The next task is to find out whether this is because of genetics/DNA or something else that is common between them.
Lexington High School in SC (10th grade student)
247
Si uno de mis padres tenia diabetis sera posible que yo tenga diabetes en mi ADN?
     Belen Hurle, Ph.D.: Generating data for use in developing and refining computational tools for comparing genomic sequence from multiple vertebrate species. Es posible pero no es seguro. La diabetes es un problema complejo influido por tus genes y por tu estilo de vida. Las personas con historia familiar de diabetes tienen que ser muy cuidadosas con lo que comen y beben y hacer ejercicio regularment para minimizar las posibilidades de desarrollar problemas.
Kannapolis Middle School in NC (7th grade student)
248
What interests you most about DNA? Why?
     Kris Wetterstrand, M.S.: Working with the Sequences, Maps and Bacterial Artificial Chromosome (BAC) Libraries Program and the ENCODE (ENCyclopedia Of DNA Elements) project. I love how genomes have evolved to produce a vast array of life on our planet. When you think about what the genome is - a series of molecules - it is astounding to think about how it does all that it does, how it creates the incredible variety of organisms on earth and how it got here.
Jason in OH (Higher Education student)
249
Are there many donations for genetic research?
     Carla Easter, Ph.D.: Creates and implements genetic education programs. Works with the branch to create science education products for high school students. There are many people who are donating their tissue for the study of genetic disorders. In addition, there are many people who donate money to help fund genetic research. I am not sure what type of donations you were referring to.
East Forest High School in PA (8th grade student)
250
How long have you celebrated DNA day?
     Sarah Harding M.P.H.: Creates and implements community engagement programs focusing on genetics. DNA Day has been around now for 6 years, since 2003!
Athens High School in AL (12th grade student)
251
What reality is there to Spiderman? ie could a spider bite induce a genetic mutation?
     Phyllis Frosst, Ph.D.: Investigating genetic discrimination, direct to consumer marketing of genetic tests and pharmacogenomics. As a scientist, I have to answer based on the peer reviewed data, and as far as we know, no cases of Spider Bite Induced Superpowers have been published. External factors such as UV light and chemical agents have been knows for a long time to cause mutations (think about skin cancer and sun exposure). It's possible that a natural venom could cause a mutation, but unlikely that it would have the widespread effects that Peter Parker experienced. Batman, however, whose "powers" are developed and invented could easily be real.
Harry Potter in RI (10th grade student)
252
My sister has Fragile X. Is there ever going to be a cure?
     Donna Krasnewich, M.D., Ph.D.: Investigating diseases resulting from abnormal metabolism of carbohydrates. Fragile X is due to expansions or changes in a specific area of the X chromosome. These expansions are carried by all of the cells of the body. You can imagine that it would be very hard to change the DNA/chromosomes in each and every cell. Because of this there is likely not going to be a cure for Fragile X. What is very important for your sister and your family is that she is in a great learning environment and has the opportunity to adapt and grow to be the best that she can be. Your question is a good one and it might be useful to you and your family to talk to a geneticist who is has special knowledge Fragile X. You can find a geneticist near you using the link at the National Society of Genetic Counselors http://www.nsgc.org/resourcelink.cfm. Keep asking these very thoughtful questions.
St. Ignatius College Prep in IL (12th grade student)
253
How does DNA influence your personality?
     Colleen McBride, Ph.D.: Developing new interventions to promote changes in people's behavior in ways that will lower their risk of developing certain diseases. Personality is a very complicated mixture of genetics and social experiences. Although genetics has been found to determine about half of one's personality traits like extraversion, creativity and hostility, they are also affected by things like parenting, and social experiences and opportunities.
St. Ignatius College Prep in IL (12th grade student)
254
How many of you are there?
     Sarah Harding M.P.H.: Creates and implements community engagement programs focusing on genetics. Right now there are about 25 of us in this room answering your questions. Everyone is having a great time! Send us more questions!
Kittanning Senior High School in PA (10th grade student)
255
What does cDNA stand for and what does it do?
     Heidi Parker, Ph.D.: Comparing the dog genome to the human genome in an effort to answer questions about disease in both dogs and humans. The c in cDNA stands for complementary. It is created by reverse transcribing the messenger RNA turning it back into DNA which is often stored in libraries. This allows the researcher to see which parts of the DNA strand is used in coding different proteins and can show which genes are being expressed in the tissue that was used to create the cDNA.
St. Ignatius College Prep in IL (11th grade student)
256
What would you suggest for someone who wanted to get into the field of genetics and biotechnology? (Chelsea)
     Kris Wetterstrand, M.S.: Working with the Sequences, Maps and Bacterial Artificial Chromosome (BAC) Libraries Program and the ENCODE (ENCyclopedia Of DNA Elements) project. Hi Chelsea, I would recommend studying hard in your biology classes in high school. You can look for summer programs in genetic research to get an idea of the lab environment. If you pursue the subject in college, get a position in a lab early on, so you can really get a feel for research and maybe try out a few different projects. You will also want to do an independent research project in your junior/senior years. Ask questions and stay curious!
Rock Canyon High School in CO (12th grade student)
257
What is your favorite Starbucks drink? Does it perk you up after a long day of research?
     Phyllis Frosst, Ph.D.: Investigating genetic discrimination, direct to consumer marketing of genetic tests and pharmacogenomics. Well, it depends what I'm going to be doing. If I'm working in the lab and moving around, half-caf grande drip coffee is plenty. If I'm at my desk reading DNA research papers a grande soy latte is ideal and if I'm answering questions in a chatroom with engaged and interested students asking relevent questions about DNA, then I don't need Starbucks, I already have all the natural energy I need.
Kent Denver High School in CO (11th grade student)
258
Why did you decide to study DNA?
     Belen Hurle, Ph.D.: Generating data for use in developing and refining computational tools for comparing genomic sequence from multiple vertebrate species. I knew that I liked Biology in general since I was a small child, but it was only in high school that I found my passion for DNA, due to a very cool Biology teacher.
East Forest High School in PA (11th grade student)
259
Where you apart original human genome team?
     Kris Wetterstrand, M.S.: Working with the Sequences, Maps and Bacterial Artificial Chromosome (BAC) Libraries Program and the ENCODE (ENCyclopedia Of DNA Elements) project. Yes, I was. I came late to the project (in late summer of 1999). I worked with the team from 1999 until April 2003, when the human genome was finished. Although, I am still "on the team" we are just working on other genome projects!
Alpharetta High School in GA (9th grade student)
260
What is cancer?
     David Adams, M.D., Ph.D.: Studying rare inborn errors of metabolism and other rare genetic syndromes to understand the disease process and identify potential treatments. Cancer is a disease caused by cells that have lost control of their growth and/or their identity. The growth of cells is strongly controlled by factors within the cell and by the cell's environment. For instance, since you are constantly shedding skin cells (dry skin, dandruff), you need to make skin cells constantly. Other types of cells, such as those in the joint, grow much more slowly. If a cell gets damaged, it may lose the ability to control its growth. Such cells grow and grow even when more of them are not needed. Cells can lose other types of control as well, most cells are supposed to stay put and not move to other parts of the body. For instance, a bone cell does not need to move to the heart to do its job. Again, if a cell is damaged it may gain the ability to move to other parts of the body. If the cells start growing in a place they shouldn't be, they can cause illness. Examples of things that can cause cell damage include too much sun exposure to skin cells and radiation.
Kannapolis Middle School in NC (7th grade student)
261
What type of scientist are you?
     Colleen McBride, Ph.D.: Developing new interventions to promote changes in people's behavior in ways that will lower their risk of developing certain diseases. I am a behavioral epidemiologist. I study behavioral epidemics like cigarette smoking, obesity and physical activity. These are considered epidemics because a relatively large group of Americans smoke cigarettes, are overweight and do not get enough exercise. I test different methods for helping people make positive changes in these behaviors.
Flint Northern Academy in MI (12th grade student)
262
What types of careers involve biological science and engineeering?
     Carla Easter, Ph.D.: Creates and implements genetic education programs. Works with the branch to create science education products for high school students. The field of biomedical engineering is one such field. In addition, many laboratories are now using robots to do some of the work. Design of these robots can require an engineering background along with some knowledge of biological processes and assays.
Carri Wilson in MI ()
263
do you prefer family guy or south park?
     Phyllis Frosst, Ph.D.: Investigating genetic discrimination, direct to consumer marketing of genetic tests and pharmacogenomics. Difficult question. Clearly both families have some interesting genetic mutations, the kids from South Park are flat, for example, suggesting some sort of inflammatory disfunction. In the end, it depends on the episode and my mood.
Alpharetta High School in GA (9th grade student)
264
What is the y gene?
     Kris Wetterstrand, M.S.: Working with the Sequences, Maps and Bacterial Artificial Chromosome (BAC) Libraries Program and the ENCODE (ENCyclopedia Of DNA Elements) project. I think you mean the Y chromosome. It determines gender in humans. Men have Y chromosomes. The Y chromosome contains a number of genes.
Shikellamy High School in PA (9th grade student)
265
How close are scientists to finding an effective gene therapy for any hereditary disease?
     Dale Lea, R.N., M.P.H., C.G.C., F.A.A.N.: Developing genetics, health education and community involvement programs and resources, and translating genetic and genomic information for the public. Scientists have attempted to use gene therapy for some rare hereditary diseases, but results have been unsuccessful. Research is continuing to make this potential therapy be effective in the future.
Princeton High School in NJ (12th grade student)
266
What is your favorite part of what you do?
     Heidi Parker, Ph.D.: Comparing the dog genome to the human genome in an effort to answer questions about disease in both dogs and humans. When you decide on a career in science you want to enjoy all parts of the job because you will spend alot of time at work. As a molecular biologists I spend time at the bench performing experiments, at the computer analyzing data, writing papers and giving lectures. I think the time analyzing is my favorite because, for me, that is where I get the big 'Aha' moment and that is what keeps me going.
Athens High School in AL (12th grade student)
267
Do you have any books regarding Genetics?
     Carla Easter, Ph.D.: Creates and implements genetic education programs. Works with the branch to create science education products for high school students. There are more than 100,000 books published on genetics.
Therizino (6th grade student)
268
Did you always know that you wanted to work in the field of genetics?
     Colleen McBride, Ph.D.: Developing new interventions to promote changes in people's behavior in ways that will lower their risk of developing certain diseases. No, it was a field that I did not know much about until 5 years ago. I became interested in genetics because leaders in the field were predicting that genetic information might be used to encourage people to be healthier. I was testing different methods to help people live healthier lives and wanted to learn about how I might include genetic information to improve those methods.
Rock Canyon High School in CO (10th grade student)
269
Here's one for you: how does RNA exit the nucleus, but DNA cannot?
     Phyllis Frosst, Ph.D.: Investigating genetic discrimination, direct to consumer marketing of genetic tests and pharmacogenomics. The answer lies in the power of the Nuclear Pore Complex, a channel made of more than 100 proteins that sits in the nuclear envelope. RNA has a signal that allows it to be transported through the channel and out of the nucleus, like a metro passenger through a turnstile with a metro pass. As well, DNA is much much bigger than RNA, again making it a lot more likely to stay in the nucleus where it belongs.
Kittanning Senior High School in PA (9th grade student)
270
When you are researching, do you have to work with a partner? If so, how well do you work with him/her?
     Heidi Parker, Ph.D.: Comparing the dog genome to the human genome in an effort to answer questions about disease in both dogs and humans. Collaboration is a big part of science. When you work with others you can get more done. There are always some people that are easier to work with than others but if everyone takes a role that plays to their individual strength, in the end the whole study is improved by working together.
Kannapolis Middle School in NC (7th grade student)
271
What was your best experience working in genetics and biotechnology? (Chelsea)
     Kris Wetterstrand, M.S.: Working with the Sequences, Maps and Bacterial Artificial Chromosome (BAC) Libraries Program and the ENCODE (ENCyclopedia Of DNA Elements) project. My best experience was working with the Human Genome Project. It was a great collaboration among very dedicated and creative people. I am also extremely excited for the future of DNA sequencing. DNA sequencing technology is about the revolutionize the speed and cost of sequencing. It will be much faster and cheaper. In not too many years, sequencing your genome might be a part of your regular health care.
Rock Canyon High School in CO (12th grade student)
272
How long did it take you to finish the human genome project?
     Kris Wetterstrand, M.S.: Working with the Sequences, Maps and Bacterial Artificial Chromosome (BAC) Libraries Program and the ENCODE (ENCyclopedia Of DNA Elements) project. It officially started in 1990. It officially ended in 2003. So, 13 great years.
Shikellamy High School in PA (9th grade student)
273
Is strength is related to any gene?
     Colleen McBride, Ph.D.: Developing new interventions to promote changes in people's behavior in ways that will lower their risk of developing certain diseases. We do not yet know the answer to that question. However, scientists are finding groups of genes that affect how a person develops muscle mass, a key factor in strength.
Therizino (6th grade student)
274
Are the base pairs in human DNA the same pairs of that in plant DNA?
     Kris Wetterstrand, M.S.: Working with the Sequences, Maps and Bacterial Artificial Chromosome (BAC) Libraries Program and the ENCODE (ENCyclopedia Of DNA Elements) project. Yes. The units are the same A (adenine), G (guanine), C (cytosine) and T (thymine). The order of those units is different to make different genes and regulatory elements.
Kittanning Senior High School in PA (10th grade student)
275
What makes the DNA molecule turn into a spiral?
     Phyllis Frosst, Ph.D.: Investigating genetic discrimination, direct to consumer marketing of genetic tests and pharmacogenomics. Watson and Crick published a paper that answers this very question on this day more than 50 years ago. The chemical structure of the DNA molecule itself causes it to spiral, it has to do with the way sugar and phosphate molecules in the backbone fit together. What's really amazing about the spiral is that the structure and shape are essential for DNA to function.
Genesee School District in MI (10th grade teacher)
276
Is a frameshift always bad?
     Belen Hurle, Ph.D.: Generating data for use in developing and refining computational tools for comparing genomic sequence from multiple vertebrate species. In principle a frameshift spells a molecular disaster. From the point of the frameshift on, all the codons are read wrongly and this normally creates a premature stop codon almost immediately. What does this mean? It means a protein that is too short, possibly missing important domains. If the frameshift is towards the very end of the gene, it is possible that the protein may be almost complete and still work OK. I can only think of a single good scenario: If you have two CONSECUTIVE frameshifts in the same gene, the second one may rescue the problem created by the first one. In this case the protein may have a weird scrambled segment but be still functional.
St. Lawrence Seminary High School in WI (10th grade student)
277
Is it possible to manipulate myostatin in humans to increase perfomance potential?
     Heidi Parker, Ph.D.: Comparing the dog genome to the human genome in an effort to answer questions about disease in both dogs and humans. So far, the mutations in myostatin that have been found developed naturally in the individuals that carry them. One such mutation was found in a human child. There are studies looking at ways to use myostatin to treat degenerative muscle disorders. If these are successful it is possible that they could also be used for enhancement as well. We will all have to wait and see.
St. Ignatius College Prep in IL (12th grade student)
278
In "Brave New World" by Aldous Huxley he discusses the idea of humans being made by scientists alone. I realize this is an extreme of genetic engineering and probably never happen but do you think genetic engineering will become prominent between couples so that they could engineer their "ideal child"
     Larry Thompson, M.S., M.F.A.: Leads the Communications Branch at the Genome Institute. Certainly people have envisioned designing their children in many works of fiction. There was a more modern , and fairly dark view, of this idea in the the 1997 movie Gattaca, but reseachers widely considered it to be unlikely.
Rock Canyon High School in CO (11th grade student)
279
How rewarding is your job?
     Saskia Sanderson, Ph.D.: Investigating the psychological effects (emotional, cognitive and behavioral) of providing individuals with personalized genetic information about their risk of developing common, complex behavior-linked conditions such as lung cancer, heart disease and obesity. I love my job! It's very exciting working at the National Human Genome Research Institute, because we get to hear the best scientists in the world give talks, and because we get to feel like we're making a contribution to improving public health through our research. It's a very rewarding and stimulating environment to work in.
Rock Canyon High School in CO (10th grade student)
280
What do you know about rare diseases? Tell me!
     William Gahl, M.D.: Studying rare inborn errors of metabolism through the observation and treatment of patients in the clinic and through biochemical, molecular biological, and cell biological investigations in the laboratory. His lab focuses on a number of disorders, including cystinosis, Hermansky-Pudlak syndrome, alkaptonuria, and sialic acid diseases. Hi, There are over 6000 rare diseases, and these affect millions of Americans. I would guess that someone l close to you is affected by a rare disease. It often takes a long time to diagnose such disorders, on average about 5 years. This is a real problem, and what the country needs is more experts in this area. Often, the things we learn about rare diseases are applicable to common diseases that affect us all. We study rare diseases for many reasons, but two of the major reasons are that they teach us about the chemical pathways that operate normally, and because patients with these disorders are often quite alone, and have a difficult time obtaining medical assistance. For more information, you might Google the Office of Rare Diseases at the NIH. Keep learning!
Therizino (6th grade student)
281
Will it be possible for doctors to be able to tell how long your life span will be, what diseases you may get and other things like that, before you're born?
     Colleen McBride, Ph.D.: Developing new interventions to promote changes in people's behavior in ways that will lower their risk of developing certain diseases. No, not with any certainty. Things like general health and life span are highly affected by how one lives their life, their health habits and the risks they take. What scientists may be able to do is to tell an individual about the chance they have of getting different kinds of health conditions if they take certain risks.
Alpharetta High School in GA (9th grade student)
282
What causes spinabifida?
     Dale Lea, R.N., M.P.H., C.G.C., F.A.A.N.: Developing genetics, health education and community involvement programs and resources, and translating genetic and genomic information for the public. Spina bifida is a defect in the lower spinal cord. One of the most common causes of spina bifida is insufficient folic acid in the mother's diet, both before she became pregnant and during the first few weeks of pregnancy. Several other factors may contribute to the development of spina bifida as well, including poor nutrition, certain drugs, and exposure to chemicals or radiation. In a few families, there also appears to be a genetic predisposition.
Shikellamy High School in PA (10th grade student)

Information - Moderator Joining us now in the chatroom are Saskia Sanderson, Gary Temple, Pnina Laric, Clesson Turner, and Bill Gahl. Check out their bios on the chat site and send in questions for them to answer!


284
Was the human genome project directed out of the Salk Institute?
     Kris Wetterstrand, M.S.: Working with the Sequences, Maps and Bacterial Artificial Chromosome (BAC) Libraries Program and the ENCODE (ENCyclopedia Of DNA Elements) project. No, it was not. It started with the US Department of Energy. Then later was led by the US National Institutes of Health and the Wellcome Trust in Britain.
Kittanning Senior High School in PA (9th grade )
285
Scientific American says there is evidence of foreign populations of maternal cells residing in us and, in the case of mothers, their children's cells integrated in their bodies. What new research is being done on this? What possible applications are there to understand autoimmune disorders?
     Donna Krasnewich, M.D., Ph.D.: Investigating diseases resulting from abnormal metabolism of carbohydrates. That is a great question. Fetal blood cells can be found in pregnant women's circulation (as an example). One particularly active area of research involves using fetal DNA present in the mother's blood to diagnose illnesses that may be present in the fetus. This technique is being explored as a means of detecting Down Syndrome and other conditions. Autoimmunity is a general term used to describe illnesses caused when a person's immune system starts to recognize and attack things that it should not--specifically parts of a person's own body. Your question probably refers to the fact that while fetal cells in a mothers blood (for example) contain DNA from the mother herself, they also contain DNA from the father. The father's DNA is "foreign" to the mother's body and might be the basis of an immune reaction. To be honest, the underpinnings of autoimmune disease are still a very active area of research and not completely understood. I will look forward, with you, to see if populations of "foreign cells" contribute to the development of autoimmune illnesses.
St. Ignatius College Prep in IL (12th grade teacher)
286
Is it human cloning is possible? If it is, is it legal?
     : No it is not possible currently. And, no it is not legal currently.
SD Citra Kasih (6th grade student)
287
What are some possible purposes for junk DNA?
     Belen Hurle, Ph.D.: Generating data for use in developing and refining computational tools for comparing genomic sequence from multiple vertebrate species. Junk DNA has not a purpose per se. The DNA with no obvious function still contributes to the plasticity of the genome. Sometimes it is shuffled around and becomes part of another gene. Sometimes triggers chromosomal rearrangements that cause disease. Some of what we consider junk may actually have a function, we just don't know it yet.
Rock Canyon High School in CO (11th grade student)
288
Scientific American says there is evidence of foreign populations of maternal cells residing in us and, in the case of mothers, their children's cells integrated in their bodies. What new research is being done on this? What possible applications are there to understand autoimmune disorders?
     William Gahl, M.D.: Studying rare inborn errors of metabolism through the observation and treatment of patients in the clinic and through biochemical, molecular biological, and cell biological investigations in the laboratory. His lab focuses on a number of disorders, including cystinosis, Hermansky-Pudlak syndrome, alkaptonuria, and sialic acid diseases. Hello, I do understand that some maternal cells pass through the placenta and become part of us, but there are probably very few. Experts in maternal-fetal health are studying this, as well as the age-old issue of why a fetus, which is foreign tissue, is not rejected. The solution to this difficult issue would, indeed, have implications for autoimmune disorders, in which that process of tolerance is abrogated.
St. Ignatius College Prep in IL (12th grade teacher)
289
Considering some recent studies show that epigenetic traits can be inherited, is there any interest in starting an epigenome project? It seems like an incredibly daunting task.
     Larry Thompson, M.S., M.F.A.: Leads the Communications Branch at the Genome Institute. Actually, you are exactly right that it's a good idea to study the epigenome. The NIH Roadmap for Medical Research, which is an initiative that coordinates research that no one of the 27 institutes and centers that make up NIH would be able to do alone, launched an epigenomics program just last year. You can read all about it at http://nihroadmap.nih.gov/epigenomics/.
Academy of the Sacred Heart Bloomfield Hills in MI (12th grade student)
291
What causes chimeras?
     Phyllis Frosst, Ph.D.: Investigating genetic discrimination, direct to consumer marketing of genetic tests and pharmacogenomics. Human chimeras are generally caused when the embryo develops from more than a single cell - both cells having different DNA. As the embryo develops, both cells divide as the embryo develops, so the DNA of the two different original cells are both distributed (frequently by cell type) throughout the person;s body. In many cases, chimeras are caused by the fusion of twin embryos at a very very early stage.
Francis Howell North in MO (11th grade student)
293
I want to get a job in R&D, but I was puzzled about whether I should specialize in one area of biology or study many areas to be comprehensive. Which approch would be more helpful for finding a R&D job
     Carla Easter, Ph.D.: Creates and implements genetic education programs. Works with the branch to create science education products for high school students. Overall, having a strong foundation in genetics, computer science, and biostatistics will certainly be useful. And if you can acquire specialized skills in hot areas, you will add to your marketability. With regard to a position in R&D, the decision of what to study is really dependent on the institution and position you are looking for. Some companies are very specialized and may be looking for someone who has very specific knowledge in a specific field. Other companies may be quite diversified and having a diverse background would facilitate one's ability to be involved in a variety projects.
East China University of Science and Technology ()
294
Is there a gene in DNA that causes obesity?
     Dale Lea, R.N., M.P.H., C.G.C., F.A.A.N.: Developing genetics, health education and community involvement programs and resources, and translating genetic and genomic information for the public. Researchers are discovering many genes that contribute to the the cause of common diseases and conditions such as obesity. Recently, researchers in the United Kingdom have discovered a commonly occuring gene variant that may explain why some people become overweight while others do not. However, they point out that it is unlikely to be the cause of the global obesity epidemic. The findings are published in Science, the journal of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. There could be additional genes that can cause a person to become obese, and additional research could discover them.
The Academy of the Sacred Heart in MI (12th grade student)
295
Cool question about RNA exiting the nucleus, so is the signal an enzyme? Is the signal coded for by a particular DNA sequence?
     Phyllis Frosst, Ph.D.: Investigating genetic discrimination, direct to consumer marketing of genetic tests and pharmacogenomics. There's a signal in the RNA sequence that is bound (as RNA is transcribed) by a particular transport protein. This protein binds other proteins and molecules and shepherd the RNA through the pore.
Alpharetta High School in GA (9th grade teacher)
296
Do you travel out of the country a lot for your line of work? (Katie)
     Carla Easter, Ph.D.: Creates and implements genetic education programs. Works with the branch to create science education products for high school students. Currently, the majority of my professional activities require national travel and not international travel. Every now and then, I do get to attend meetings that are held outside the country.
Rock Canyon High School in CO (10th grade student)
297
I know someone with multiple sclerosis. Is this disease passed down through family genes?
     William Gahl, M.D.: Studying rare inborn errors of metabolism through the observation and treatment of patients in the clinic and through biochemical, molecular biological, and cell biological investigations in the laboratory. His lab focuses on a number of disorders, including cystinosis, Hermansky-Pudlak syndrome, alkaptonuria, and sialic acid diseases. HI, Multiple sclerosis does have a genetic basis. In fact, a couple of different genes have been discovered to cause this disease. However, not all the people who inherit those genetic mutations get symptoms. Furthermore, the signs and symptoms are extremely variable. MS is a tough disease, and I admire your friend for his/her courage in dealing with this disorder. There is a great deal of hope, however, since clinical treatment trials for this malady are underway.
Shikellamy High School in PA (9th grade student)
298
How many genes still have unknown functions?
     Pnina Laric, M.S.: Coordinates the summer and post-baccalaureate internship and training programs at NHGRI. A lot of them! But we don't know exactly how many for sure. We currently think there are about 20,000 genes in the human genome, and we're discovering more every day through bioinformatics and experiments in the lab. While we know what a lot of genes do, there's still a lot of genes whose functions we don't yet know or fully understand. That's why we need you to become a scientist to help figure this out!
Winton Woods High School in OH (12th grade student)
299
Do muscular people have more RNA than normal people?
     David Adams, M.D., Ph.D.: Studying rare inborn errors of metabolism and other rare genetic syndromes to understand the disease process and identify potential treatments. Well that is an interesting question! Muscles are made of cells. Increase in muscle size occurs when there are more and/or larger muscle cells. So, since every cells contains RNA, more muscular people would be expected to have more RNA overall. There is likely also an increase in the RNA inside of each cell if a person works out. Working out damages muscle cells (not in a bad way, it is just part of the process). Cellular damage repair often requires special cellular processes that use RNA to carry information. Finally, making the muscle protein themselves uses mRNA. So, in short, yes!
Kittanning Senior High School in PA (9th grade student)
300
is there really a gene that can determine your personality?
     Saskia Sanderson, Ph.D.: Investigating the psychological effects (emotional, cognitive and behavioral) of providing individuals with personalized genetic information about their risk of developing common, complex behavior-linked conditions such as lung cancer, heart disease and obesity. No, there is no one single gene that determines your personality. However, there are lots of genes that probably each have a small influence on your personality. For example, some people may have a combination of genes that makes them a bit more likely to feel depressed sometimes. The important thing to be aware of is that there are many, many things that influence how your personality develops, and we don't know what all of those things are yet. Genetics, environments, life experiences, and lots of other things may all play a part.
Shikellamy High School in PA (9th grade student)
301
To Kris Wetterstrand: I don't know about you, but a frog is definitely simpler than I am?
     Kris Wetterstrand, M.S.: Working with the Sequences, Maps and Bacterial Artificial Chromosome (BAC) Libraries Program and the ENCODE (ENCyclopedia Of DNA Elements) project. I'll give it to you that frogs can't talk and do math like we can. But they are a very diverse set of animals that inhabit many different environments. They can do a lot of things that we can't.
Abbeville High School in SC (12th grade student)
302
What are your views on the ethics of human reproductive cloning?
     Colleen McBride, Ph.D.: Developing new interventions to promote changes in people's behavior in ways that will lower their risk of developing certain diseases. Human cloning is a very broad issue. If you are asking about cloning human cells for understanding the biology of disease, that I might regard as acceptable. If you are referring to cloning a full human being, then I can not see any benefits to society that would justify this ethically.
Rock Canyon High School in CO (11th grade student)
303
I've read about the Canine Genome Project and most recently the Papaya Genome Project. How and who decides what organism's genome will be decoded? What is the benefit to humans of such research on these two very different organisms?
     Heidi Parker, Ph.D.: Comparing the dog genome to the human genome in an effort to answer questions about disease in both dogs and humans. If a group wants to get their organism sequenced, they write a proposal called a white paper describing the benefits of having a full genome sequence done. A committee reads the papers and decides which ones should be done. Once they are approved for funding they are parsed out to the various genome sequencing centers. Because genome sequencing technologies are improving rapidly, the cost and time involved in sequencing a genome is dropping, too. Soon complete genome sequences will be available for any organism that a researcher can imagine. By sequencing many diverse genomes we get more information about what the roles of individual genes are and how they are controlled in different organisms.
Rosa L. Parks High School in NJ (teacher)
304
How many types of DNA are there?
     Phyllis Frosst, Ph.D.: Investigating genetic discrimination, direct to consumer marketing of genetic tests and pharmacogenomics. It all depends on what you mean by type. In the cells of our bodies we have nuclear DNA and mitochondrial DNA. We also have bacterial DNA in our digestive system ( from the essential bacteria who reside there). As well, the human body can contain viral DNA from viruses that are circulating or infecting our bodies.
Alpharetta High School in GA (9th grade student)
305
Phenylalanine is essential to human body, but why is it poisonous to human body?
     William Gahl, M.D.: Studying rare inborn errors of metabolism through the observation and treatment of patients in the clinic and through biochemical, molecular biological, and cell biological investigations in the laboratory. His lab focuses on a number of disorders, including cystinosis, Hermansky-Pudlak syndrome, alkaptonuria, and sialic acid diseases. Hello, Phenylalanine itself is not toxic, but if it can't be converted to its natural product, tyrosine, then it gets broken down to another product that IS toxic. That product is phenylpyruvic acid, which has harmful effects upon brain development. The disease is called phenylketonuria, and it is the first disorder that was screened for among newborns on a state-wide basis. Many affected children have been helped by this program. The treatment is to avoid phenylalanine, but not completely because, as you said, it is essential for the human body. Good question!
Therizino (6th grade student)
306
Can DNA be used to make better matches between organ donors and organ recipients?
     David Adams, M.D., Ph.D.: Studying rare inborn errors of metabolism and other rare genetic syndromes to understand the disease process and identify potential treatments. Yes, in fact there are specific DNA sequences that are checked for almost all transplantation. The HLA (Human Leukocyte Antigen) genes contribute to what the body's immune system sees as self and not self. The DNA sequence of those genes are checked to make a better guess at whether the transplanted organ will be accepted by its new body.
Athens High School in AL (12th grade student)
307
Is being a good singer linked to genetics?
     Colleen McBride, Ph.D.: Developing new interventions to promote changes in people's behavior in ways that will lower their risk of developing certain diseases. Yes, it is likely that singing ability is affected by genetics. Like any physical ability, musical capability, artistic interest, and other personality traits are partly affected by genetics. However, in order to be really good at anything, one has to do the proper training and put effort into it, in order to be really good.
Alpharetta High School in GA (9th grade student)
308
How intense was the race to complete the Human Genome Project?
     Kris Wetterstrand, M.S.: Working with the Sequences, Maps and Bacterial Artificial Chromosome (BAC) Libraries Program and the ENCODE (ENCyclopedia Of DNA Elements) project. It was pretty intense. There were two groups of dedicated and hard-working scientists working to accomplish a worthy goal. In addition, the public Human Genome Project was very committed to generating the sequence information and making it available to everyone.
Alpharetta High School in GA (9th grade student)
309
In the video game called Assasin's Creed, they use DNA memory from ancestors to travel to the past. Does DNA really hold memories?
     Pnina Laric, M.S.: Coordinates the summer and post-baccalaureate internship and training programs at NHGRI. Doesn't anyone play Frogger anymore? What, no working Ataris out there? No, unfortunately DNA doesn't hold memories. If anything, DNA might code for proteins that signal processes in the brain to remember experiences.
Holy Family Catholic High School in MN (9th grade student)
310
I've read about evidence supporting hyperevolution in "lower organisms" (bacteria). How readily do you think larger,more complex organisms will be able to do this?
     Gary Temple, Ph.D.: Building a public collection of gene transcripts (as cDNAs) for use in studying the structure and function of human, mouse, and rat genes. Bacteria and other "lower" organisms have fewer genes and apparently much simpler systems for controlling gene regulation. In addition, because these organisms are either unicellular or have a much lower level of tissue diversity, compared to vertebrates, for example, their systems for gene control presumably need to be less diversified. The combined simpler genetic and tissue organization of the lower organisms could allow more flexibility and opportunity for evolutionary changes, compared with more complex organisms, which are therefore constrained to evolve much more gradually over time.
Rosa L. Parks High School in NJ (teacher)
311
Kris, what university did you attend?
     Kris Wetterstrand, M.S.: Working with the Sequences, Maps and Bacterial Artificial Chromosome (BAC) Libraries Program and the ENCODE (ENCyclopedia Of DNA Elements) project. I attended University of Miami in Florida for my Bachelor's degree in biology. I went to Cornell University in New York for my Master's degree in genetics.
Alpharetta High School in GA (9th grade student)
312
Are genes related to nose bleeds?
     William Gahl, M.D.: Studying rare inborn errors of metabolism through the observation and treatment of patients in the clinic and through biochemical, molecular biological, and cell biological investigations in the laboratory. His lab focuses on a number of disorders, including cystinosis, Hermansky-Pudlak syndrome, alkaptonuria, and sialic acid diseases. Hi, In a way, yes. Some people have nosebleeds because their platelets are defective, and that can occur because of genetic defects. Platelets help us clot our blood, and low or defective platelets lead to nosebleeds, bruising, and prolonged bleeding when you get a cut. By the way, the medical term for nosebleed is epistaxis. For advanced credit, look up Hermansky-Pudlak syndrome! I guess if you have genes that cause aggression, this could get you into fights, which can be related to nosebleed!
Alpharetta High School in GA (9th grade student)
313
Why do you think jobs in the genetic field are a part of one of the fastest growing industries?(Katelyn)
     Carla Easter, Ph.D.: Creates and implements genetic education programs. Works with the branch to create science education products for high school students. In my opinion, genetics and genomics are becoming much more utilized in all aspects of biological research, especially with regard to medicine. More and more, even people in other fields besides the biological sciences are utilizing genetics and genomics. The more we discover about how genomes function, the more we can apply the information. The future is bright for people who want to think about using genetics in their career.
Rock Canyon High School in CO (11th grade student)
314
Can exposure to toxic waste alter your genetic coding?
     Belen Hurle, Ph.D.: Generating data for use in developing and refining computational tools for comparing genomic sequence from multiple vertebrate species. There are many toxic chemicals that could damage your DNA. The damage may or may not produce an obvious health problem on the person that was exposed. But the damaged DNA may be passed on to the offspring and cause a serious health problem to THEM. So please keep your gloves and mask on when handling any toxic waste.
Alpharetta High School in GA (9th grade student)
315
Is handling genetic power the greatest responsibility in the world?
     Colleen McBride, Ph.D.: Developing new interventions to promote changes in people's behavior in ways that will lower their risk of developing certain diseases. I would say no. "Genetic power" makes me think of genetic knowledge and the products that come out that knowledge. I think issues of war and handling nuclear weapons demands far more responsibility from us as a society.
Therizino (6th grade student)
316
Why are centrioles in animal cells, but not in plant cells?What do plants have instead ? Lilly
     Phyllis Frosst, Ph.D.: Investigating genetic discrimination, direct to consumer marketing of genetic tests and pharmacogenomics. Centrioles organize microtubules (long, structural molecule chains that can function as freeways inside the cell), since both types of cells have microtubules it is very interesting that plant cells lack centrioles. We know that in animal cells, microtubules assemble from the centrioles, while in plants, mictotubules assemble at several places (centrosomes without centrioles) in the cell.
Selandia in Slagelse, Denmark (11th grade student)
317
We always see the DNA model. What does DNA actually look like for real?
     Larry Thompson, M.S., M.F.A.: Leads the Communications Branch at the Genome Institute. Actually, the typical model shows one of the most common forms of DNA, called the B form. There are actually forms of the DNA that turn back on itself in the opposite direction called the Z form. But the question I bet you really asking is what does DNA look like when you purify it out of a pile of cells in a test tube. I remember the first time I isolated DNA; I stirred a class rode in the ethanol precipitate and I pulled out a tangle of white, mucous-like stuff that very much looked like snot.
Flint Northern Academy in MI (11th grade student)
318
What causes hermaphodites?
     David Adams, M.D., Ph.D.: Studying rare inborn errors of metabolism and other rare genetic syndromes to understand the disease process and identify potential treatments. The term hermaphrodite is used to describe persons or animals that have both male and female reproductive organs. There is a range of hermaphrodism in that a person can have mostly female genitals, mostly male genitals or anywhere in between. As an example, some hermaphrodism is caused by genetic (DNA related) changes in the regulation or production of testosterone. Testosterone is a natural hormone that is normally present in much larger amounts in males than females. For instance if a baby is genetically a female (she has two X sex chromosomes) but her body makes more testosterone than it should, she will be born with genitalia that have some male characteristics. This is a complicated area as there are many genes that regulate the development of the genitals and other male and female characteristics.
Francis Howell North in MO (11th grade student)
319
What causes polyembryony?
     Clesson Turner, M.D.: I see patients of all ages with genetic disorders/syndromes. I am also working on the ClinSeq project as my research. Our understanding of the exact causes of polyembryony, or identical twinning, are poor at best. It does seem that having twins runs in some families. According to the Encyclopedia Britannica "polyembryony occurs regularly in the nine-banded armadillo, which usually gives birth to four identical young."
St. Ignatius College Prep in IL (12th grade student)
320
What would you recommend to a teacher on how to stay current on the new developments and research in the field of genetics and biotechnology?
     Carla Easter, Ph.D.: Creates and implements genetic education programs. Works with the branch to create science education products for high school students. I would recommend visiting the websites of the National Human Genome Research Institute (several links to genetic/genomic education sites); becoming a member of the Community of Genetic Educators (www.nih.coge.gov); and attending the conferences or subscribing to the publications of the National Science Teachers Association and the National Association of Biology Teachers.
Rock Canyon High School in CO (Higher Education teacher)
321
If your mother had breast cancer and you are a girl, do you have a high chance of getting cancer also?
     Clesson Turner, M.D.: I see patients of all ages with genetic disorders/syndromes. I am also working on the ClinSeq project as my research. There are many factors that play a role in a woman's risk of developing breast cancer. One factor that increases a woman's risk is if her mother or other relatives also had breast cancer. Anyone with a family history of breast cancer should discuss this with their primary care physician.
Alpharetta High School in GA (9th grade student)
322
Do you have a favorite show that you enjoy because it involves genetics?
     Clesson Turner, M.D.: I see patients of all ages with genetic disorders/syndromes. I am also working on the ClinSeq project as my research. I cannot think of any TV shows, but the movie GATTACA has some interesting issues regarding genetics.
Alpharetta High School in GA (9th grade student)
323
I am very into animal rights and wonder if there is any way to research DNA and still consider the animals? What are your opinions on animal rights in the science field?
     Heidi Parker, Ph.D.: Comparing the dog genome to the human genome in an effort to answer questions about disease in both dogs and humans. There are many areas of biology and genetics that do not deal with animal subjects but when they do it is because there is no better way to get the answers that are needed. Scientists are also very concerned about animal welfare and never put an animal at risk if there is any other way to arrive at an answer. We have entire branches devoted to reviewing study designs and making sure that animals subjects are always treated humanely.
Kittanning Senior High School in PA (9th grade student)
324
Is there any kind of genetic research going on to try and create cures for cancer?
     Clesson Turner, M.D.: I see patients of all ages with genetic disorders/syndromes. I am also working on the ClinSeq project as my research. All cancers are genetic, and there is large amounts of research going on in this field all over the world. If you want to learn more go to www.nih.gov or www.cancer.gov.
Rock Canyon High School in CO (10th grade student)
325
Does DNA effect how well you hear and see?
     Clesson Turner, M.D.: I see patients of all ages with genetic disorders/syndromes. I am also working on the ClinSeq project as my research. Yes, there are many genetic disorders that cause blindness or hearing loss. An example of a disorder that leads to both problems is Usher Syndrome. More information about this syndrome and others can be found at http://ghr.nlm.nih.gov/.
Souderton Area High School in PA (10th grade student)
326
What has been the most difficult part of your studies?
     Heidi Parker, Ph.D.: Comparing the dog genome to the human genome in an effort to answer questions about disease in both dogs and humans. The most difficult part of science is time management. I always have lots of experiments going and everyone of them is exciting in its own right so choosing what to do first is the biggest problem I have.
Alpharetta High School in GA (9th grade student)
327
Does DNA affect social personality?
     Saskia Sanderson, Ph.D.: Investigating the psychological effects (emotional, cognitive and behavioral) of providing individuals with personalized genetic information about their risk of developing common, complex behavior-linked conditions such as lung cancer, heart disease and obesity. DNA probably has some influence on social personality. There are lots and lots of variations in DNA that in combination may influence aspects of social behavior and personality. For example, some people's genes may make them a bit more likely to feel depressed more easily than some other people. However, it is important to remember that there are lots and lots of factors that influence personality, including life experiences and all sorts of other things. DNA is just one of those.
Therizino (6th grade student)
328
Jumping genes alter genes randomly. Does this represent an infinite variability of the genome that we don't yet see?
     Belen Hurle, Ph.D.: Generating data for use in developing and refining computational tools for comparing genomic sequence from multiple vertebrate species. That is a smart question. Lately scientists are paying more and more attention to the STRUCTURAL variability of genomes. For instance, at the sequence level any two humans are 0.01% different: this only accounts for spelling differences. But when you take in consideration the structural differences the number goes up to at least 0.05%. These structural variations include among others segments of DNA or genes deleted or duplicated; and genes that have moved location.
St. Ignatius College Prep in IL (11th grade student)
330
What is methemoglobinemia? Are there really blue people?
     William Gahl, M.D.: Studying rare inborn errors of metabolism through the observation and treatment of patients in the clinic and through biochemical, molecular biological, and cell biological investigations in the laboratory. His lab focuses on a number of disorders, including cystinosis, Hermansky-Pudlak syndrome, alkaptonuria, and sialic acid diseases. Hemoglobin is the protein in our blood that carries oxygen to the tissues of our body. Methemoglobin is hemoglobin that has bound a different molecule, like a drug, rather than oxygen. This can occur due to a genetic defect in the metabolism of hemoglobin. Indeed, methemoglobin is blue colored, and humans with this genetic defect can appear slightly blue.
McDowell High School in PA (10th grade student)
331
Is there reason to believe the Y chromosome could "disappear"?
     Phyllis Frosst, Ph.D.: Investigating genetic discrimination, direct to consumer marketing of genetic tests and pharmacogenomics. It's possible that the Y chromosome could disappear, but the pace of evolution is very slow and the Y chromosome has a lot of important genes on it. Scientists estimate that it would take on the order of 10 million years for a big genomic change like that to occur.
St. Ignatius College Prep in IL (11th grade student)
332
What are some colleges that have great genetics programs? (Leah)
     Carla Easter, Ph.D.: Creates and implements genetic education programs. Works with the branch to create science education products for high school students. There are 100s of colleges that have genetics programs. In addition, universities with life science departments will include genetics in their curriculums. In order to get sense of what the programs are like, you can always look at the various research that the faculty are involved.
Rock Canyon High School in CO (12th grade student)
333
Do you think that we can ever know too much about DNA for our own good?
     Saskia Sanderson, Ph.D.: Investigating the psychological effects (emotional, cognitive and behavioral) of providing individuals with personalized genetic information about their risk of developing common, complex behavior-linked conditions such as lung cancer, heart disease and obesity. It is this kind of question that makes it so important that there are people researching and thinking about the ethical, social, legal, and psychological implications of genetics research. On a broad level, we need to ensure that there are people working on this kind of question at the same time as the scientists are working on the genetics research. On an individual level, it is up to each person to decide how much they do or do not wish to know about their own DNA.
Kittanning Senior High School in PA (9th grade student)
334
How do biologists know the sun's UV light casues cancer?
     David Adams, M.D., Ph.D.: Studying rare inborn errors of metabolism and other rare genetic syndromes to understand the disease process and identify potential treatments. Firstly, cancer is caused by damage to DNA. The DNA causes the cells to lose control of their growth and/or identity. That being the case, you would expect that things that damage DNA would cause cancer. One experiment that shows how UV radiation damages DNA is as follows. If you coat the DNA with fluorescent (glowing) molecules, you can actually see them under the microscope. If you shine strong enough UV light on the DNA you can watch it break in front of your eyes! More evidence is provided by the fact that skin cancers associated with UV skin damage occur most often in places not covered by the sun. Finally, there are some diseases caused by dysfunction of the cellular machinery that repairs DNA damage. Individuals with those conditions will often have dramatically increased rates of skin cancer in sun exposed areas of the body. Wear sunscreen!!
Shikellamy High School in PA (9th grade student)
335
Is Barry Bonds Geneticlly altered or is he just totally juiced?
     Gary Temple, Ph.D.: Building a public collection of gene transcripts (as cDNAs) for use in studying the structure and function of human, mouse, and rat genes. Barry Bonds is clearly a gifted athlete, and despite all the controversy around why he has done so well, it's safe to say his exceptional skills are mostly the result of "good genes" and tireless practice and years of experience. Even if we could identify which genes help to contribute to such unusual ability -- which we currently cannot do -- a large part of outstanding athletes' success certainly results from how hard and long they have worked at perfecting these skills and at what age they begin that effort.
Alpharetta High School in GA (9th grade student)
336
The human genome project was a huge endeavor that involved many contributors. Is there anything in the works for another project on this same scale?
     Kris Wetterstrand, M.S.: Working with the Sequences, Maps and Bacterial Artificial Chromosome (BAC) Libraries Program and the ENCODE (ENCyclopedia Of DNA Elements) project. The Haplotype Map (HapMap) was a large-scale project. Other projects of this size that are underway right now are: The Cancer Genome Atlas (TCGA), the Human Microbiome Project (HMP), the 1000 Genomes Project and the ENCODE Project.
Fairmont State University in WV (Higher Education teacher)
337
If you hadn't ended up in research, what would your "back-up" job have been? Are you happy with where you are? (Alexandra)
     Pnina Laric, M.S.: Coordinates the summer and post-baccalaureate internship and training programs at NHGRI. I would have been a rockstar, of course! Seriously, when I was first in college, I wanted to be a doctor. But after an internship in a lab one summer, I found that I really liked research and working in the lab. After spending a number of years working in the lab, I actually moved to a new job where I help people who are training to be scientists work on developing other aspects of their career besides just their lab skills. This is an interesting job I did not even know about when I was in college. It allows me to combine my love of working with people with my interest in helping people figure out how to be the best they can be at what they do.
Rock Canyon High School in CO (11th grade student)
338
Can you describe the gene mutation that causes Noonan Syndrome?
     Clesson Turner, M.D.: I see patients of all ages with genetic disorders/syndromes. I am also working on the ClinSeq project as my research. There are four genes associated with Noonan Syndrome. They are PTPN11, SOS1, KRAS and RAF1. Mutations, or changes in the DNA sequence, in each of these genes have been shown to cause Noonan Syndrome. More information about Noonan Syndrome can be found at the following web site: http://ghr.nlm.nih.gov/
Alpharetta High School in GA (9th grade student)
339
Is it true that sickle cell anemia prevents malaria?
     William Gahl, M.D.: Studying rare inborn errors of metabolism through the observation and treatment of patients in the clinic and through biochemical, molecular biological, and cell biological investigations in the laboratory. His lab focuses on a number of disorders, including cystinosis, Hermansky-Pudlak syndrome, alkaptonuria, and sialic acid diseases. It's close to true. Sickle cell anemia itself is a bad disease that can be fatal, but you need two abnormal genes to have actual sickle cell disease. However, if you have one of those mutated genes, you are a carrier (or heterozygote, in genetic terms). Sickle cell disease occurs in areas of the world where malaria is prevalent, and researchers believe that this may be because CARRIERS for sickle cell disease were able to resist malaria better than other people. This "advantage" with respect to malaria (an often fatal infectious disease) would keep the sickle cell gene in the population, allowing carriers to marry and have children with sickle cell disease. Make sense?
Holy Family Catholic High School in MN (9th grade student)
340
Is it illegal to analyze a person's DNA without his or her consent?
     Vence Bonham, J.D.: The ethical, legal, social and policy implications of genomic discoveries, particularly health professionals' and lay persons' understanding of race, ethnicity and genetics. It depends, this is an important policy question that states across this country are addressing regarding whether individuals who have been arrested and charged with a crime are required to give their DNA to law enforcement. Individuals who have been convicted of a felony are required to provide their DNA. It is illegal without a court order to analyze a person's DNA in many situations.
St. Ignatius College Prep in IL (12th grade student)
341
Im a soccer player. If I marry a soccer player, will our kids be amazing soccer players?
     Clesson Turner, M.D.: I see patients of all ages with genetic disorders/syndromes. I am also working on the ClinSeq project as my research. Probably only if they practice really hard.
Our Lady of Lourdes Academy in FL (11th grade student)
342
Would you say DNA or environmental triggers are the leading cause of cancer? [mason]
     Heidi Parker, Ph.D.: Comparing the dog genome to the human genome in an effort to answer questions about disease in both dogs and humans. DNA is definitely the leading cause of cancer, when something goes wrong in the DNA it can cause the cells to grow out of control and a tumor is formed. Some of these problems are inherited while others happen spontaneously during cell division. There are environmental factors that can increase the possibility of getting one of these spontaneous mutations by interfering in the DNA strand.
Rock Canyon High School in CO (10th grade student)
343
Is there a chance that our DNA can be mutated so that we turn into zombies like in the movie "I am Legend"?
     Phyllis Frosst, Ph.D.: Investigating genetic discrimination, direct to consumer marketing of genetic tests and pharmacogenomics. Of course, anything is possible. The scientific literature, however, contains no evidence of human to zombie transitions. Not even in animal models (zombie mice, ew). Zombieism would involve a lot of complex physical and mental changes, and a process as complex as this is unlikely to happen to you, but it's still best to keep your distance if you see one.
Meridian High School in WA (10th grade student)
344
Is there something that could distort the shape of DNA? What would happen to the person if their DNA wasn't the right shape? (Kelsie)
     Pnina Laric, M.S.: Coordinates the summer and post-baccalaureate internship and training programs at NHGRI. Sure! Mutations can distort the shape of DNA and keep the base pairs from matching up the way they normally would (A's with T's, and G's with C's). This can alter the shape of DNA and then it often won't work the way it should.
Rock Canyon High School in CO (11th grade student)
345
Who was head of the human genome project?
     Kris Wetterstrand, M.S.: Working with the Sequences, Maps and Bacterial Artificial Chromosome (BAC) Libraries Program and the ENCODE (ENCyclopedia Of DNA Elements) project. Francis Collins of NHGRI is the most prominent leader of the project. The US Department of Energy started the project. The National Human Genome Research Institute (NHGRI) and the Wellcome Trust in Britain led it to completion. Many other scientific leaders were involved.
Palms Middle School in CA (7th grade student)
346
Is Lou Gherig's disease a genetic mutation?
     William Gahl, M.D.: Studying rare inborn errors of metabolism through the observation and treatment of patients in the clinic and through biochemical, molecular biological, and cell biological investigations in the laboratory. His lab focuses on a number of disorders, including cystinosis, Hermansky-Pudlak syndrome, alkaptonuria, and sialic acid diseases. Yes, the Iron Horse had amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, which is indeed a genetic disease. There is even a gene known to be associated with ALS now. Unfortunately, there is still no treatment, but there are many scientists and physicians working on finding a treatment for this devastating disease. Lou had his share of luck, good and bad.
Holy Family Catholic High School in MN (9th grade student)
347
Why are strawberries used for the DNA seperation experiment?
     Kris Wetterstrand, M.S.: Working with the Sequences, Maps and Bacterial Artificial Chromosome (BAC) Libraries Program and the ENCODE (ENCyclopedia Of DNA Elements) project. A single strawberry will produce a lot of DNA that can be seen in a test tube.
Palms Middle School in CA (7th grade student)
348
Do you like DNA day?
     Phyllis Frosst, Ph.D.: Investigating genetic discrimination, direct to consumer marketing of genetic tests and pharmacogenomics. I do. It's a special day (like a birthday) to celebrate our DNA, the focus of my work. The nice people who organize the chatroom make it fun for all of us (and provide coffee!). Answering questions about DNA is different from what I do on most days, and when I talk to high school students about DNA, it's always been a great experience.
Mound Westonka High School in MN (9th grade student)
349
How accurately can a doctor predict how tall a child will become? (I know it is also related to diet.)
     David Adams, M.D., Ph.D.: Studying rare inborn errors of metabolism and other rare genetic syndromes to understand the disease process and identify potential treatments. Assuming that there are absolutely no medical conditions, dietary restrictions, etc, probably within about +/- 2 inches 95% of the time. As you suggest, there are other factors, including diet, that make a difference. If such factors are present, the height prediction gets much worse. The best methods are not all that scientific and rely on things like parental height. Even with 95%, remember, there is still a 1 in 20 chance to be way off the mark!
Westchester Country Day School in NC (9th grade student)
350
What happens when something goes wrong with chromosome 21
     Clesson Turner, M.D.: I see patients of all ages with genetic disorders/syndromes. I am also working on the ClinSeq project as my research. Many problems can occur if something goes wrong with chromosome 21. A common problem occurs when someone is born with three copies of chromosome 21 instead of the normal two. This is called Down Syndrome or Trisomy 21.
Flint Northern Academy in MI (11th grade student)
351
Can you do the same strawberry DNA extraction process on other items? If so, please list them?
     Kris Wetterstrand, M.S.: Working with the Sequences, Maps and Bacterial Artificial Chromosome (BAC) Libraries Program and the ENCODE (ENCyclopedia Of DNA Elements) project. Onions are also good for a DNA extraction demonstration (the conditions and materials are easy to come by). DNA can be extracted from many things. Sometimes conditions and materials are a more difficulty. When I was a graduate student, I extracted DNA from single fruit flies in a few minutes.
Palms Middle School in CA (7th grade student)
352
What causes Lesch-Nyhan Syndrome?
     William Gahl, M.D.: Studying rare inborn errors of metabolism through the observation and treatment of patients in the clinic and through biochemical, molecular biological, and cell biological investigations in the laboratory. His lab focuses on a number of disorders, including cystinosis, Hermansky-Pudlak syndrome, alkaptonuria, and sialic acid diseases. Lesch-Nyhan syndrome results from deficiency of a certain enzyme, hypoxanthine-guanine phosphoribosyltransferase. As a result, uric acid accumulates and causes poor mental development, joint problems, and other issues. The classic behavioral characteristic is self-mutilation; children and adults with L-N syndrome bite their fingers and lips. There is no treatment for this devastating disorder. Lesch-Nyhan syndrome was named after Bill Nyhan (an MD at the time) and Lesch, a medical student at the time. Bill is still practicing metabolic diseases in California.
Therizino (6th grade student)
353
How well can American students compete for biotechnology jobs compared to students from other countries? Why do we seem to be behind?
     Carla Easter, Ph.D.: Creates and implements genetic education programs. Works with the branch to create science education products for high school students. Your questions are good ones and there are at least two major science curriculum reform efforts that are addressing this, nationally. The overarching goals of these programs are to ensure that students have a solid background in math, science, and technology. Having strong backgrounds in these areas will help students compete for jobs in the science, technology, engineering, and math fields.
Winton Woods High School in OH (12th grade teacher)
354
William Mynhier in CA (7th grade student)
355
If your mother had Huntington's disease would you want to get tested to see if you have it also?
     David Adams, M.D., Ph.D.: Studying rare inborn errors of metabolism and other rare genetic syndromes to understand the disease process and identify potential treatments. Wow, what a question! I would like to say first that this is a question that needs to be answered by each individual for themselves. Everyone has their own set of values and their own understanding of the world. For me, I think I would. However, I have also worked with families who changed their minds when such a question became real instead of hypothetical. Therefore, it is hard to know unless you are there yourself.
Flint Northern Academy in MI (10th grade student)
356
Do you need the DNA in your mitochondria?
     Phyllis Frosst, Ph.D.: Investigating genetic discrimination, direct to consumer marketing of genetic tests and pharmacogenomics. We absolutely do, there are many human diseases that result from even small mutations in mitochondrial DNA.
Palms Middle School in CA (7th grade student)
357
Why is the actual life span of a fruit fly, from a zygote to death?
     Kris Wetterstrand, M.S.: Working with the Sequences, Maps and Bacterial Artificial Chromosome (BAC) Libraries Program and the ENCODE (ENCyclopedia Of DNA Elements) project. Drosophila melanogaster stays eight days in the egg and larval stages, and six days in the pupal stage. The life span of a fruit fly may be several weeks.
Palms Middle School in CA (7th grade student)
358
How does the genetic material differ in humans and cats?
     Heidi Parker, Ph.D.: Comparing the dog genome to the human genome in an effort to answer questions about disease in both dogs and humans. All mammals share a majority of their DNA sequence. The complete genome sequence of the cat has not been done yet but from what we have seen, about 65%, they are no exception. They appear to share about 90% of their genes with humans.
Taylor Road Middle School in GA (6th grade student)
359
What is Karyotyping
     Phyllis Frosst, Ph.D.: Investigating genetic discrimination, direct to consumer marketing of genetic tests and pharmacogenomics. Karyotyping is a test to examine chromosomes in a sample of cells, which can help identify genetic problems as the cause of a disorder or disease.
Therizino (6th grade student)
360
What is molecular geneology ?
     Carla Easter, Ph.D.: Creates and implements genetic education programs. Works with the branch to create science education products for high school students. Utilizing molecular biology techniques to trace and assess an individuals ancestry. It sssists with identifying populations and their migration patterns as well as more specific information about family history.
Dept. of Biotech SMVCBT, NAGPUR, INDIA (student)
361
Do you consider Dolly the clone to be a success? I know she died early; is this a result of her being a clone?
     Heidi Parker, Ph.D.: Comparing the dog genome to the human genome in an effort to answer questions about disease in both dogs and humans. Yes, I think we have to consider her a success because she was the first large mammal cloned and information learned from even her short life has improved cloning efforts in other organisms.
St. Ignatius College Prep in IL (12th grade student)
363
How long did it take you to become a true experts in your field?
     William Gahl, M.D.: Studying rare inborn errors of metabolism through the observation and treatment of patients in the clinic and through biochemical, molecular biological, and cell biological investigations in the laboratory. His lab focuses on a number of disorders, including cystinosis, Hermansky-Pudlak syndrome, alkaptonuria, and sialic acid diseases. I was an expert in one disease by my late thirties, and an expert in several diseases by my late forties. In order to become such an expert, I had to see many patients with each of these disorders. The National Institutes of Health allowed me to do that. I am eternally grateful to the NIH and to my patients!
Shikellamy High School in PA (9th grade student)
364
Do your genes vary as you get older?
     Clesson Turner, M.D.: I see patients of all ages with genetic disorders/syndromes. I am also working on the ClinSeq project as my research. Yes, our genes can get mutations as we age. Indeed some changes in genes that occur as we age are the cause of cancer.
Sharon High School in PA (12th grade student)
365
Can drugs affect your genes?
     David Adams, M.D., Ph.D.: Studying rare inborn errors of metabolism and other rare genetic syndromes to understand the disease process and identify potential treatments. Yes, without question, some can. Many chemotherapy drugs (drugs used to treat cancer) are useful specifically because they affect the DNA your genes are made of. Some people who are successfully treated for cancer with such drugs are at increased risk for other types of cancer later on in life. Now, you may be asking about illegal drugs such as marijuana, heroin, etc. Although we don't know for absolute sure, they probably don't have a large effect on your genes. I'd like to emphasize that drug use, including nicotine, can damage a growing fetus if they are used by a pregnant woman.
Northern High School in MI (10th grade student)
366
Did you guys ever have any major problems while trying to map the human genome?
     Kris Wetterstrand, M.S.: Working with the Sequences, Maps and Bacterial Artificial Chromosome (BAC) Libraries Program and the ENCODE (ENCyclopedia Of DNA Elements) project. There were barriers to overcome in order to figure out what to do. Researchers had to decide between multiple approaches to handling the genome - piece by piece or the whole genome at once. Information storage (i.e. computers) had to be sorted out. Analytical methods had to be developed. And many, many people had to be coordinated.
Palms Middle School in CA (7th grade student)
367
They say that the purpose of introns is not known. I wonder if it could be that the genetic information of that organism would not be in its phenotype, but be passed down to their children?
     Pnina Laric, M.S.: Coordinates the summer and post-baccalaureate internship and training programs at NHGRI. Interestingly enough, scientists are now discovering that a lot of the DNA they thought was "junk DNA", ie the DNA that does not codes for genes, is actually really important, and not junk at all! But I think that what you're referring to, the genetic information each of us inherits from our parents, but that may not present itself physically (ie we don't have the phenotype for a gene that we may carry)- those genes may be recessive, or just not "turned on", or may not even have been carried down to us at all!
Athens High School in AL (12th grade student)
368
What is the difference between the amount of genes in a human and a small dog?
     Heidi Parker, Ph.D.: Comparing the dog genome to the human genome in an effort to answer questions about disease in both dogs and humans. First I have to tell you that big dogs and little dogs all have the same genes. They may have a couple of mutations that alter their size potential but other than that they are very much alike. At this time approximately 20,000 genes have been identified in the dog and 24,000 in humans. There are groups actively looking for the 4000 missing genes in dogs to see if they are really missing or just mis-placed.
Holy Family Catholic High School in MN (9th grade student)
369
Is it true that scientist have proven that professional scientist are not as smart as the average high school student?
     Phyllis Frosst, Ph.D.: Investigating genetic discrimination, direct to consumer marketing of genetic tests and pharmacogenomics. That's a common urban legend. As it turns out, the average high school student is nowhere near as smart as the average professional scientist, in large part based on data collected from the types of questions they ask. An interesting area of research if you have what it takes to become a professional scientist someday.
Dixie High School in SC (12th grade student)
370
Does Lupis have anything to do with DNA?
     Clesson Turner, M.D.: I see patients of all ages with genetic disorders/syndromes. I am also working on the ClinSeq project as my research. Some cases of Lupus are caused by changes in our genes. However, the cause of most cases of Lupus are poorly understood.
Kittanning Senior High School in PA (9th grade student)
371
Could there be a mutation in cells that would make a man mix with a woman?
     William Gahl, M.D.: Studying rare inborn errors of metabolism through the observation and treatment of patients in the clinic and through biochemical, molecular biological, and cell biological investigations in the laboratory. His lab focuses on a number of disorders, including cystinosis, Hermansky-Pudlak syndrome, alkaptonuria, and sialic acid diseases. Hello, It's not really a mutation that makes a man mix with a woman; it's nature itself! Some are better than others at this. You might be referring to a man who has characteristics of a woman. There are some genetic disorders in which a male (XY) can appear like a woman (XX) even though the person's cells are still XY. That can be due to a single genetic mutation.
Holy Family Catholic High School in MN (9th grade student)
372
is there any institute in other country belongs to NHGRI?
     Kris Wetterstrand, M.S.: Working with the Sequences, Maps and Bacterial Artificial Chromosome (BAC) Libraries Program and the ENCODE (ENCyclopedia Of DNA Elements) project. On occasion, NHGRI will funds research institutes outside of the US. Espececially when they provide something unique or special to the science.
Samar (Higher Education student)
373
Will there be any bias when it comes to providing insurance and treament to certain groups of people now that the Human Genome has been sequenced?
     Vence Bonham, J.D.: The ethical, legal, social and policy implications of genomic discoveries, particularly health professionals' and lay persons' understanding of race, ethnicity and genetics. Yesterday April 24, 2008 the U.S. Senate passed GINA a bill to prohibit the use of genetic information in the provision of health insurance. It is expected that the House will pass the bill and President Bush will sign it into law, when that happens it will reduce the chance of misuse of genetic information to discriminate against an individual.
Medgar Evers College in NY (Higher Education student)
374
How many genes are there in a human genome?
     Pnina Laric, M.S.: Coordinates the summer and post-baccalaureate internship and training programs at NHGRI. Currently, we think there are about 20,000 genes in the human genome. Interestingly enough, that number continues to go down as we do more and more research. Not too long ago, we thought that number was closer to 100,000!
IASE OFF CAMPUS CENTRE (Higher Education student)
375
Is creativity genetic?
     Saskia Sanderson, Ph.D.: Investigating the psychological effects (emotional, cognitive and behavioral) of providing individuals with personalized genetic information about their risk of developing common, complex behavior-linked conditions such as lung cancer, heart disease and obesity. Genetics almost certainly influence aspects of how people think, feel and behave - some of which will influence how creative somebody is. However, creativity, personality, artistic ability, logical thinking and almost all aspects of human thought and behavior are all very, very complicated. We are only just starting to understand how genetics into the whole picture.
St. Ignatius College Prep in IL (12th grade student)
376
How does the environment turn on and off a gene? (Maria)
     Heidi Parker, Ph.D.: Comparing the dog genome to the human genome in an effort to answer questions about disease in both dogs and humans. Some genes can be controlled by temperature. There is a gene that controls coat color in some cats and rabbits that is turned on at low temperature and off at higher temperature. That is where the Siamese "points" come from. We do not know the exact mechanism for turning these genes on and off but it is thought to be caused by protein folding changes.
Rock Canyon High School in CO (11th grade student)
377
Will you guys do this again next year? Like answering all these questions?
     Vence Bonham, J.D.: The ethical, legal, social and policy implications of genomic discoveries, particularly health professionals' and lay persons' understanding of race, ethnicity and genetics. Yes! We look forward to answering questions from students across the country.
Kittanning Senior High School in PA (9th grade student)
378
Why does non-disjunction occur in meiosis? What type of bond keeps the tetrad together? How common are diseases linked to this?
     Kris Wetterstrand, M.S.: Working with the Sequences, Maps and Bacterial Artificial Chromosome (BAC) Libraries Program and the ENCODE (ENCyclopedia Of DNA Elements) project. Non-disjunction occurs when the chromosomes fail to segregate during meiosis. This can cause a decrease or increase of genetic material in the resulting cells. There are a number of genetic disease that result from this.
Clarkstown High School North in NY (9th grade teacher)
379
Hey, you all are really smart. How old are you?
     Pnina Laric, M.S.: Coordinates the summer and post-baccalaureate internship and training programs at NHGRI. Thanks! We're all different ages. Some of us are in our 20s and 30s, and some of us are in our 40s, 50s, 60s. And we all have a really good time working together. Science is fun!
Caston High School in CT (9th grade student)
380
Why do people get mutations?
     David Adams, M.D., Ph.D.: Studying rare inborn errors of metabolism and other rare genetic syndromes to understand the disease process and identify potential treatments. So, what is a mutation? A scientist who studies genetics thinks of mutations as changes in DNA that have some effect on the health of the organism (person, animal, plant, whatever). The change in health, however, may only happen under certain circumstances or may be very slight. Alright, now to your question. DNA can be changed (mutated) by lots of things including drugs, sunlight, and even rare errors that happen when cells divide. Most of those changes are actually repaired by the cell before they can cause problems. Occasionally, however, they can cause disease.
Palms Middle School in CA (7th grade student)
381
What foods have been or are going to be enhanced by DNA alterations?
     Carla Easter, Ph.D.: Creates and implements genetic education programs. Works with the branch to create science education products for high school students. Currently, there are many vegetable and animal crops ( for example, rice, beef, soybeans, tomatoes, and corn) that have been found to be safe food sources. As more and more genetically modified crops are deemed safe and economical, more will be modified and developed for consumption.
Athens High School in AL (11th grade student)
382
Do you like being an scientist?
     Heidi Parker, Ph.D.: Comparing the dog genome to the human genome in an effort to answer questions about disease in both dogs and humans. Yes, there are not many jobs where you learn something new everyday.
Flint Northern Academy in MI (11th grade student)
383
Do you have to know human genetics to become a crime scene investigater?
     Pnina Laric, M.S.: Coordinates the summer and post-baccalaureate internship and training programs at NHGRI. It certainly helps!
Palms Middle School in CA (7th grade student)
385
Why do people get mutations?
     William Gahl, M.D.: Studying rare inborn errors of metabolism through the observation and treatment of patients in the clinic and through biochemical, molecular biological, and cell biological investigations in the laboratory. His lab focuses on a number of disorders, including cystinosis, Hermansky-Pudlak syndrome, alkaptonuria, and sialic acid diseases. When our DNA makes new DNA, it sometimes makes mistakes. The process is not perfect!. Any mistake can be a mutation. If there is no effect of a mistake in making the new DNA, it is not called a mutation. It would be a "polymorphism." We all carry about 6 or 7 mutations, but they usually don't show up to cause us problems!
Palms Middle School in CA (7th grade student)
386
Why do some people have different colored eyes?
     Clesson Turner, M.D.: I see patients of all ages with genetic disorders/syndromes. I am also working on the ClinSeq project as my research. We have genes that are affect our eye color. Brown is dominant over green, and both are dominant over blue.
Clarkstown High School North in NY (9th grade teacher)
387
What is Philadelphia Chromosome? (BCR/abl)
     Dale Lea, R.N., M.P.H., C.G.C., F.A.A.N.: Developing genetics, health education and community involvement programs and resources, and translating genetic and genomic information for the public. The Philadelphia chromosome is a rearrangement (translocation) of genetic material between chromosomes 9 and 22 is associated with several types of blood cancer known as leukemias. This chromosomal abnormality is found only in cancer cells. It fuses part of a specific gene from chromosome 22 (the BCR gene) with part of another gene from chromosome 9 (the ABL gene). The protein produced from this fused gene abnormally signals tumor cells to continue dividing and prevents them from adequately repairing DNA damage. The Philadelphia chromosome has been identified in most cases of a slowly progressing form of blood cancer called chronic myeloid leukemia (CML). It also has been found in some cases of more rapidly progressing blood cancers known as acute leukemias. The presence of the Philadelphia chromosome can help predict how a cancer will progress and provides a target for molecular therapies.
SD Citra Kasih (6th grade student)
388
Why did you decide to study DNA?
     Clesson Turner, M.D.: I see patients of all ages with genetic disorders/syndromes. I am also working on the ClinSeq project as my research. Because as a physician I wanted to help people affected by genetic syndromes.
Our Lady of Lourdes Academy in FL (11th grade student)
389
Holy Family Catholic High School in MN (9th grade student)
390
Will the neanderthal genome provide new clues on evolution?
     Belen Hurle, Ph.D.: Generating data for use in developing and refining computational tools for comparing genomic sequence from multiple vertebrate species. The scientific community is very excited about the Neanderthal genome project. Neanderthals are the closest relative to humans that we will ever have an opportunity to study. We know based on the fossil record that Neanderthals had significant anatomical differences with us. We may be able to trace the roots of some of those by studying their DNA. We could also focus on genes that are known to have an important function in brain development in humans and study their Neanderthal counterparts to assess how their brain capabilities compared to ours.
St. Ignatius College Prep in IL (11th grade student)
391
Will there ever be an answer to the west nile virus?
     Gary Temple, Ph.D.: Building a public collection of gene transcripts (as cDNAs) for use in studying the structure and function of human, mouse, and rat genes. West Nile Virus causes apparent disease in less than 1% of the people who show evidence of infection. Immunity to the virus appears to be a protective factor affecting whether an initial exposure to WNV will cause symptoms and apparent disease, as well as whether that person will develop a second later infection, if exposed again to the virus at a later time. Since immunity can play a significant role in severity and prevention of WNV infections, it is possible that scientists in the future will find ways to exploit the human immune reaction to develop effective vaccines, even though none currently is available.
Shikellamy High School in PA (9th grade student)

Information - Moderator Joining us shortly will be Sharon Terry, head of the Genetic Alliance, an advocacy organization for people with genetic conditions.


393
What other eukaryotic genomes have been completely sequenced?
     Kris Wetterstrand, M.S.: Working with the Sequences, Maps and Bacterial Artificial Chromosome (BAC) Libraries Program and the ENCODE (ENCyclopedia Of DNA Elements) project. The NHGRI alone has supported the completion of over 75 eukaryotic genomes and has many more in process, see http://genome.gov/10002154. This does not include many other genomes supported by other funding agencies (like the US Department of Energy) and other countries.
Fairmont State University in WV (Higher Education student)
394
What's the deal with the traits for eyes? Why are my eyes a mix of brown and blue, and why do they have specks of different colors, like green and dark brown?
     Pnina Laric, M.S.: Coordinates the summer and post-baccalaureate internship and training programs at NHGRI. While brown eyes are the dominant eye color, sometimes we have different color eyes, like green or blue, and sometimes we even have a mix of different colors within the same eye, like brown eyes speckled with green. Often genetics involve a mix of multiple things taking place behind the scenes to generate the phenotype we actually see.
Atholton High School in MD (11th grade student)

Information - Moderator And stay tuned to learn who won the American Society of Human Genetics' essay contest. The winners will be announced at approximately noon!


396
Do you like answering all of these scientific questions?
     Pnina Laric, M.S.: Coordinates the summer and post-baccalaureate internship and training programs at NHGRI. Yes. I wait for DNA Day all year long! I'll see you next year too, right?
Athens High School in AL (12th grade student)
397
If my mothers aunt has Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, is there a chance that i could develop the disease
     Clesson Turner, M.D.: I see patients of all ages with genetic disorders/syndromes. I am also working on the ClinSeq project as my research. Approximately 10% of people with ALS have another affected family member. These are referred to as familial or inherited ALS. In this situation a gene mutation can potentially be passed on to other family members. However, most cases of ALS are not inherited.
Sharon High School in PA (12th grade student)
398
How was the human genome project accomplished?
     Kris Wetterstrand, M.S.: Working with the Sequences, Maps and Bacterial Artificial Chromosome (BAC) Libraries Program and the ENCODE (ENCyclopedia Of DNA Elements) project. The HGP was accomplished through the work of 20 research institutions in six countries, over the course of 13 years.
Palms Middle School in CA (7th grade student)
400
Do you love doing your job?
     Sharon Terry, M.A.: Runs the Genetic Alliance, a coalition of over 600 disease specific advocacy organizations working to increase capacity in advocacy organizations and to leverage the voices of the millions of individuals and families affected by genetic conditions. Yes, I love doing my job. I work on genetic diseases very broadly. For example, I was involved in educating the public and the congress about Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act - a bill that passed in the Senate yesterday after a great deal of work!

I also help genetic disease support groups figure out ways to work together and help to get research going on their diseases.

And, I work with many experts in policy, law, sociology and psychology on what we need to understand about genetics in society.

Shikellamy High School in PA (10th grade student)
401
What are the pros and cons of getting genetic tests?
     Dale Lea, R.N., M.P.H., C.G.C., F.A.A.N.: Developing genetics, health education and community involvement programs and resources, and translating genetic and genomic information for the public. Deciding to have genetic testing is a personal decision. Genetic testing is offered for many reasons. Genetic testing can be used to diagnose a disorder such as Down syndrome. Genetic testing can help you learn if you are a carrier of a recessive gene mutation, such as cystic fibrosis. Genetic testing is offered during pregnancy to screen for disorders such as spina bifida and Down syndrome. Genetic testing is increasingly being used to find out if a certain medication and dose of medication is right for a patient. The pros of genetic testing include having information to make health and reproductive decisions. The cons of genetic testing include concerns about privacy of genetic information, and the potential for discrimination. Genetic professionals such as genetic counselors are available to talk with individuals and families in detail about the pros and cons of genetic testing so that they can decide if they want to pursue it.
Therizino (6th grade student)
402
Can you double major and hold a career as a molecular biologist and chemist?
     Pnina Laric, M.S.: Coordinates the summer and post-baccalaureate internship and training programs at NHGRI. Certainly! Molecular biology and chemistry often go hand in hand. In fact, you can even double major in something that is not science-related, like art history and biochemistry or Spanish and genetics, and still go on to be a very successful scientist. I actually recommend studying something outside of the sciences in addition to science. It doesn't have to be a double major, but at least take a course or two in some other interesting subjects so you know things about our world other than just science.
Charlie in RI (Higher Education student)
404
Is all DNA hereditary?
     Carla Easter, Ph.D.: Creates and implements genetic education programs. Works with the branch to create science education products for high school students. Changes that happen in somatic cells are not inherited. Only the changes to the DNA in the germ cells and in the mitochondrial DNA found in the oocyte the precursor to the egg (inherited from the mother) are heritable.
Flint Northern Academy in MI (12th grade student)
405
How does bioethics affect how you perform your job?
     Kris Wetterstrand, M.S.: Working with the Sequences, Maps and Bacterial Artificial Chromosome (BAC) Libraries Program and the ENCODE (ENCyclopedia Of DNA Elements) project. My office, which deals with the funding of research projects at many institutions, has a specific program to fund research in ethics, law and sociology. So, it is very important. In addition, bioethics plays a significant role in all the other research that we fund. We take bioethics into account when setting research policies about data release and the use of humans in research.
Rosa L. Parks High School in NJ (10th grade student)
406
If one was to take steriods, does it alter the person's genes? How do steriods function?
     David Adams, M.D., Ph.D.: Studying rare inborn errors of metabolism and other rare genetic syndromes to understand the disease process and identify potential treatments. In answer to your first question, probably not. Steroid abuse can cause lots of other health problems, some of them life threatening. Steroids function by exerting powerful effects on how and when DNA is read in some cells. Cells that respond to steroids may work harder or work less when steroids are present. Anabolic steroids, the type abused in an attempt to build muscle bulk, affect many body systems including the muscles. The can cause changes in the nervous system (the brain), the cardiovascular system (blood pressure and heart function, skin (acne) and other organs besides muscles.
Alpharetta High School in GA (9th grade student)
407
Is it true that we are genetically more like our grandparents than our parents? I think I learned about recombination in my 8th grade bio class. Have I remembered correctly?
     Clesson Turner, M.D.: I see patients of all ages with genetic disorders/syndromes. I am also working on the ClinSeq project as my research. On average, we inherit 50% of our genes from our parents and 25% from our grandparents.
Philly ()
408
Does bacteria have a little or a lot of DNA?
     Shawn Burgess, Ph.D.: Studying developmental processes and their relation to human genetic disease. The answer is actually both! Some bacteria have relatively small genomes (around 1 million bases) Some have hundreds of millions of bases of DNA. It depends on the needs and complexities of each individual species.
Palms Middle School in CA (7th grade student)
409
How is Parkinson's disease inherited?
     Barbara Biesecker, M.S.: Researching ways to make genetic counseling as effective as possible. Parkinson's disease is considered a common complex condition that is caused by genetics and environment. This means that there are many causes. There are several different genes that contribute to the risk for PD, but we do not think about it as inherited as a Mendelian disorder (such as dominant or recessive). In families where multiple people are affected with PD and there is an earlier age of onset, there are likely higher genetic risks to relatives. If someone in your family is affected and you are concerned about the risk, a genetic counselor can help to answer your questions.
Sharon High School in PA (12th grade student)
410
Where did you graduate from?
     Gary Temple, Ph.D.: Building a public collection of gene transcripts (as cDNAs) for use in studying the structure and function of human, mouse, and rat genes. I graduated with a BA in Chemistry from Willamette University, attended medical school and graduated from the Oregon Health Sciences University in Portland,OR; I then did an internship in internal medicine at Boston University Hospital and a post-doctoral fellowship in molecular biology at MIT, in Boston, MA.
Alpharetta High School in GA (9th grade student)
411
Would majoring in something like biomedical science be helpful when pursuing a career in biotech? [kortney]
     Shawn Burgess, Ph.D.: Studying developmental processes and their relation to human genetic disease. Yes biomedical science degrees would be helpful. Other areas that could be equally or even more valuable (because fewer individuals come with these skills) are chemistry or computer training.
Rock Canyon High School in CO (10th grade student)
412
Would we clone ourselves sometime in the near future? We can already clone sheep and other small animals. Would we be able to clone to animals together, i.e a bear and a sheep?
     Sharon Terry, M.A.: Runs the Genetic Alliance, a coalition of over 600 disease specific advocacy organizations working to increase capacity in advocacy organizations and to leverage the voices of the millions of individuals and families affected by genetic conditions. It may be scientifically possible, but there are many things society would have to consider before we every even really considered cloning a human.

In general, cloning two different species together would not work any more than cross-breeding them by natural methods. But various genes could be shared across species since there are common genes that are shared among all species.
Reagon Elementary School in AR (5th grade student)
413
Should everyone get genetic counseling?
     Dale Lea, R.N., M.P.H., C.G.C., F.A.A.N.: Developing genetics, health education and community involvement programs and resources, and translating genetic and genomic information for the public. Genetic counseling is appropriate for people who have a family history of a genetic condition; who have an infant or child who may have a genetic disorder, and for couples considering pregnancy who have concerns about their family histories. To find out more about genetic counseling you can go to the National Society of Genetic Counselors website at www.nsgc.org
Northern High School in MI (10th grade student)
414
Question for Larry Thompson, M.S, M.F.A. : is you job hard ? do u enjoy doing what you do ?
     Larry Thompson, M.S., M.F.A.: Leads the Communications Branch at the Genome Institute. This is awesome. This is the first time anyone ever sent a question directly to me. Cool. Anyway, yes, I love my job because it is so crazy and changing all the time. I work in that space between the researchers who are trying to create the future of medicine and the rest of us who are trying to understand what that future will look like -- so it's always different. I also get to work with a tremendous team of professionals with a wide range of skills, from writing and editing to producing websites to creating video documentaries. It's really lots and lots of fun, and just one of the kinds of jobs you could consider if you were interested in getting into the genomics field. Not everyone has to be a scientists; some of us have to describe what is going on.
East Forest High School in PA (8th grade student)
415
Why do some experimental vaccines work in mice, but not in humans?
     Shawn Burgess, Ph.D.: Studying developmental processes and their relation to human genetic disease. Mice are a really good model for biomedical research, but they are not perfect. There are things that make a mouse a mouse and a human a human. Models organisms, while really important, are always only an approximation of what is happening in humans.
Francis Howell North in MO (11th grade student)
416
What is your job, Sharon?
     Sharon Terry, M.A.: Runs the Genetic Alliance, a coalition of over 600 disease specific advocacy organizations working to increase capacity in advocacy organizations and to leverage the voices of the millions of individuals and families affected by genetic conditions. My job is not typical! I am the leader of two organizations. One organization, PXE International, is a disease support group for a disease my children have called pseudoxanthoma elasticum. The other organization is called Genetic Alliance, and it is a network of many many organization and companies. Our work is to transform health through genetics, specifically by helping maintain a focus on what really matters, mainly the health of individuals, families and communities.
Holy Family Catholic High School in MN (9th grade student)

Information - Moderator Here are the winners for the ASHG DNA Day essay contest:

Middle School (7th and 8th graders)

Why is it important for us to discover the patterns of genotypic and phenotypic similarity and difference in living things and why should we understand the theories that describe the importance of genetic diversity for species and ecosystems?

1st Preethi Padmanaban, Chaboya Middle School, San Jose, CA

2nd Felix Wangmang, Robinson Middle School, Plano, TX

3rd Elizabeth Cole, Home School, Virginia



418
How did you all come up with having a DNA day? Why is it scheduled only on the 25th of April?
     Carla Easter, Ph.D.: Creates and implements genetic education programs. Works with the branch to create science education products for high school students. DNA Day celebrates the initial completion of the Human Genome Project which was announced on April 25, 2003 and the fifty year anniversary of the publication of the Watson and Crick paper on the characterizing DNA which also occurred in April (1953)----50 years apart.
Abbeville High School in SC (12th grade student)
419
What is the diffence between the DNA in a plant and the DNA of an animal?
     Kris Wetterstrand, M.S.: Working with the Sequences, Maps and Bacterial Artificial Chromosome (BAC) Libraries Program and the ENCODE (ENCyclopedia Of DNA Elements) project. The main difference is in the amount and order of DNA. The basic units are the same (adenine, guanine, cytosine and thymine). The differences are in the genes that are encoded and how they are regulated.
Kannapolis Middle School in NC (7th grade student)

Information - Moderator Why is it important for us to learn about our family health history? What can our family health/medical history tell us? What doesn?t it tell us?

1st Jason Derby, Cuba City Elementary School, Cuba City, WI

2nd Sarah Henderson, Kepley Middle School, Ulysses, KS

3rd Keenan Baker, Owsley County High School, Booneville, KY



421
Why is it that when you have a baby, you and your husband or boyfriend's DNA doesn't get passed on to your child's body but their grandparents do?
     Barbara Biesecker, M.S.: Researching ways to make genetic counseling as effective as possible. Both parents, the biological mother and father, contribute DNA to a baby. The mother contributes half and the father contributes half. A baby shares one quarter of his or her DNA in common with each grandparent. If you are asking whether a baby looks like both parents, sometimes the baby resembles one parent more than the other because of the arbitrary way that the genetic information is passed on. All my children resemble their father much more than they resemble me but they share half their DNA in common with me and half with him.
Kannapolis Middle School in NC (7th grade student)

Information - Moderator High School (9th- 12th graders)

Discuss the practical implications that genetics research is playing in our lives today. Discuss where it might lead us in the next 10 years.

1st Kristin Young, Athol High School, Athol, MA

2nd Elaine Chung, Montgomery Blair High School, Silver Spring, MD

3rd Christian Fagel, Archmere Academy, Claymont, DE



423
How many gametes can be in a punnet square at one time?
     Shawn Burgess, Ph.D.: Studying developmental processes and their relation to human genetic disease. In theory, there is no limit to the number of gametes that can be put in the square. Very quickly however, the chart becomes too cumbersome to be of particular use. A 10X10 grid has 100 entries, a 20X20, 400!
Cody Hoover in PA (9th grade student)

Information - Moderator If you could be a human genetics researcher, what would you study and why?

1st Laura Irei, Arcadia High School, Phoenix, AZ

2nd Briana Skalski, Archmere Academy, Claymont, DE

3rd Razan Dababo, Marcy High School, Burlingame, CA



425
Q: What conclusions can you draw for me if I have the gene that says I have zero ability to flush alcohol. From what I've read, I shouldn't be having my occasional glass of wine. Am I overreacting? As of right now, I simply haven't had any alcohol since learning of this from my genetic code.
     Don Hadley, M.S., C.G.C.: Researching the components of a genetic counseling session, including how people are informed of genetic disorders and how they make decisions regarding genetic testing. This is a very interesting and complex question. We may not have enough information at this point in time to completely answer your question. The ability to "flush" alcohol may involve other genetic factors, as well as environmental influences. The information you received may be accurate, however, there are likely other factors that influence alcohol metabolism. The option to completely avoid alcohol is the safest approach, but it may not be absolutely necessary since the information we know about alcohol metabolism is still in it's earliest form. Thanks for writing.
Murph ()

Information - Moderator Congratulations to the winners! For more information, visit http://genednet.org/pages/k12_dnadayabout08.shtml


427
What is your favorite genetics joke?
     Belen Hurle, Ph.D.: Generating data for use in developing and refining computational tools for comparing genomic sequence from multiple vertebrate species. Here is one: What do you get when you cross a potato with a sponge? I don't know, but it sure holds a lot of gravy.
Fairmont State University in WV (Higher Education student)

Information - Moderator Now joining us in the chatroom is Dr. Francis Collins, Director of the NHGRI. Keep sending your questions!


430
What is Biotechnology?
     Gary Temple, Ph.D.: Building a public collection of gene transcripts (as cDNAs) for use in studying the structure and function of human, mouse, and rat genes. Biotechnology refers to research and practical applications of biological research, such as ways to improve crops and food production, to improve human and animal health (through new diagnostics tests and medical therapies), and other uses of biological materials. Biotechnology companies typically pursue research in these areas to generate products they hope to sell for a profit.
Kannapolis Middle School in NC (7th grade student)
431
Are there any special clothing that you have to wear when you work with the DNA- like masks, gloves, etc.
     Shawn Burgess, Ph.D.: Studying developmental processes and their relation to human genetic disease. For day to day work, I show up in jeans and a T-shirt. I do handle hazardous chemicals where I have to wear gloves and a lab coat. We visualize DNA using a UV lightbox that requires a face shield to prevent "sunburn", and some of the viral work I do needs to be done in a contained room. There are all kinds of special clothing, most of it for protection.
Therizino (6th grade student)
432
proque ustedes son lentas con conestando mis preguntas!!?? AHhhhh
     Belen Hurle, Ph.D.: Generating data for use in developing and refining computational tools for comparing genomic sequence from multiple vertebrate species. Hey Ya hemos recibido casi 2000 preguntas! es dificil responderlas todas. A veces las preguntas son repetitivas y solo las contestamos una vez. Ademas yo soy la unica de momento que contesta en espanol. Un poquito de paciencia, gracias.
Creek View Elementary School in GA (5th grade student)
433
Can we speed up our own evolution?
     Kris Wetterstrand, M.S.: Working with the Sequences, Maps and Bacterial Artificial Chromosome (BAC) Libraries Program and the ENCODE (ENCyclopedia Of DNA Elements) project. I'll answer with questions to think about. Could the genetic information we pass on to our children change? What if our environment changes so that we pass on different genes? Are we changing our environment? What if we directly manipulated our genes though genetic engineering and passed them on to our children? what if we selected the genes of our children?
St. Ignatius College Prep in IL (12th grade student)
434
How much information is on a strand of DNA??
     Carla Easter, Ph.D.: Creates and implements genetic education programs. Works with the branch to create science education products for high school students. The amount of information is dependent on the region of the DNA you are looking at. Less than than 3% of the genome appears to encode proteins, but researchers are discovering that significant parts of the remainder of the DNA sequences are actively expressed and may be playing a role in regulation or possibly some unknown role.
Abbeville High School in SC (12th grade student)
435
What is Biotechnology?
     Pnina Laric, M.S.: Coordinates the summer and post-baccalaureate internship and training programs at NHGRI. Biotechnology is a relatively new field that covers a lot of areas. Think of it as Technology based on Biology. So for example, DNA sequencing and microarray technology are technologies that have been developed to help us solve questions in biology.
Kannapolis Middle School in NC (7th grade student)
436
Cuantos anos fue a la escuela para saca tu trabajo, Clesson?
     Belen Hurle, Ph.D.: Generating data for use in developing and refining computational tools for comparing genomic sequence from multiple vertebrate species. Hola Yo estudie en Espana. Alli son 5 anos de universidad (college) y 5 anos de programa de doctorado (graduate program).
Charlie in RI (Higher Education student)
437
When someone has a disorder is it possible for it to be found on more than one chromosome
     Don Hadley, M.S., C.G.C.: Researching the components of a genetic counseling session, including how people are informed of genetic disorders and how they make decisions regarding genetic testing. Some disorders can be caused by mutations in different genes located on different chromosomes. One example is a disorder called Hereditary Nonpolypsis Colorectal Cancer (HNPCC) THere are 5 genes that have been associated with this cancer syndrome. So a person who has HNPCC may have a mutation in any one of genes and can cause this disease.
Abbeville High School in SC (12th grade student)
438
Zachary High School in LA (10th grade student)
439
Sharon, are there headquarters for your organization in Rhode Island?
     Sharon Terry, M.A.: Runs the Genetic Alliance, a coalition of over 600 disease specific advocacy organizations working to increase capacity in advocacy organizations and to leverage the voices of the millions of individuals and families affected by genetic conditions. Hi! Genetic Alliance is international and has virtual nodes in the network all over the world, since it is a network of networks. So yes, organizations in Rhode Island are part of Genetic Alliance.

PXE International has an office in Providence, RI!
Charlie in RI (Higher Education student)
440
What makes up our DNA?
     Carla Easter, Ph.D.: Creates and implements genetic education programs. Works with the branch to create science education products for high school students. Our DNA is composed of nitrogenous bases (adenine, guanine, cytosine, thymine, and adenine) and sugar.
Shikellamy High School in PA (9th grade student)
441
does the smallest animal, like an ant, have as long a DNA as humans do?
     Pnina Laric, M.S.: Coordinates the summer and post-baccalaureate internship and training programs at NHGRI. Actually, there are animals smaller than ants! But yes, ant DNA has fewer base pairs, or As, Cs, Gs, and Ts, than humans do. So yes, their DNA would not be as long as human DNA.
Palms Middle School in CA (7th grade student)
442
Is Acute Myelogenous Leukemia hereditary? Are there any studies indicating that it is?
     Barbara Biesecker, M.S.: Researching ways to make genetic counseling as effective as possible. AML is not strictly hereditary. It does not commonly recur in families. Gene mutations may contribute to the cause but most often cancer results from the contribution of many factors, including environmental triggers. Chromosome changes can be seen in cancer cells but they are limited to affected cells and are not seen throughout the body (they are somatic rather than inherited). If you have someone with AML in your family and have concerns about it affecting you or your relatives, you can talk with a genetic counselor about your concerns.
Clara Montes de Oca in FL ()
443
Would you have liked doing something else besides what you do?
     Shawn Burgess, Ph.D.: Studying developmental processes and their relation to human genetic disease. I really like what I do and have been interested in science since a very young age. I think there are a few other careers that I might enjoy, but being a scientist is a pretty special job and allows for a level of creativity and discovery not available in too many other careers.
John C. Fremont High School in CA (10th grade student)
444
What is protein synthesis?
     Pnina Laric, M.S.: Coordinates the summer and post-baccalaureate internship and training programs at NHGRI. Protein synthesis is the process of how proteins are made.
Holy Family Catholic High School in MN (9th grade student)
445
Though the general consensus is that the ?Out of Africa? models in the correct interpretation of the evolution of modern man, what evidence does supporters of the Multiregional model cite to support their highly contested theory?
     Francis Collins, M.D., Ph.D.: Identifying and understanding genes involved in human disease, including type II diabetes. Some would argue that there is fossil evidence that supports separate human origins in Asia (maybe including the very small "hobbit" skeletons recently found in New Guinea). But the DNA evidence is very strongly against this.
St. Ignatius College Prep in IL (12th grade student)
446
How many amino acids do i have in my body?
     Belen Hurle, Ph.D.: Generating data for use in developing and refining computational tools for comparing genomic sequence from multiple vertebrate species. We have only 20 amino acids that are shuffled in many, many combinations according to the specifications of the genes to create all the proteins. An average protein would have about 300 amino acids. The lower limit to perform a particular biochemical function is 40-50 amino acids.
Lugoff-Elgin High School in SC (10th grade student)
447
Does anyone remember the first image taken of the double helix that actually proved the reality of Watson & Crick's Structure?
     Carla Easter, Ph.D.: Creates and implements genetic education programs. Works with the branch to create science education products for high school students. It is believed that Rosalind Franklin was the first to take an x-ray diffraction image of DNA that provided evidence that DNA was in the form of a double helix.
Jonathan C. Allen, Bose Corp. Engineer in MA (Higher Education student)
448
Is Tourettes Syndrome a genetic disease?
     Dale Lea, R.N., M.P.H., C.G.C., F.A.A.N.: Developing genetics, health education and community involvement programs and resources, and translating genetic and genomic information for the public. Tourette syndrome is named for Georges Gilles de la Tourette, who first described this disorder in 1885. There is strong evidence that Tourette syndrome is passed down through families, although the gene has not yet been found. The syndrome may be linked to problems in certain areas of the brain, and the chemical substances (dopamine, serotonin, and norepinephrine) that help nerve cells talk to one another. Tourette syndrome can be either severe or mild. About 10% of Americans have a mild form. Many people with very mild tics may not be aware of them and never seek medical help. Tourette syndrome is four times as likely to occur in boys as in girls.
Liberty Jr.Sr. High School in PA (10th grade student)
449
What is the best part of being a geneticist?
     Shawn Burgess, Ph.D.: Studying developmental processes and their relation to human genetic disease. Genetics is my favorite approach in biology because it is an approach where you let the organism inform you what is important, often in very surprising ways. You have to be ready for anything, because once you identify the gene causing a certain phenotype, you could suddenly be studying cell biology, chromatin, transcription, or a hundred other different options. You really have to be a Jack-of-all-trades.
St. Ignatius College Prep in IL (12th grade student)
450
Are we messing with God's will by changing our DNA?
     Francis Collins, M.D., Ph.D.: Identifying and understanding genes involved in human disease, including type II diabetes. So far, we haven't really changed human DNA to any significant extent -- in fact, any experiments that would alter the part of DNA that gets passed from generation to generation would be considered unethical. Some would argue that we should aim for that in the future, especially if it means the elimination of terrible diseases. But we should only undertake that with the greatest caution and public scrutiny -- since the risks might be unknown, and many would justifiable wonder if we have crossed a line that humans should not undertake.
Meridian High School in WA (10th grade student)
451
como las enfermedades que son hereditarias son pueden detecta a tiempo
     Belen Hurle, Ph.D.: Generating data for use in developing and refining computational tools for comparing genomic sequence from multiple vertebrate species. En los Estados Unidos y muchos otros paises, todos los recien nacidos reciben un test de sangre el primer dia de vida para detectar hasta 26 tipos diferentes de enfermedades hereditarias. En algunos casos, un simple cambio de dieta puede evitar que la enfermedad genetica produzca problemas tan graves como retraso mental.
Camden High School in NJ (10th grade student)
452
How did they find out what DNA looks like?
     Carla Easter, Ph.D.: Creates and implements genetic education programs. Works with the branch to create science education products for high school students. It is believed that Rosalind Franklin was the first to take an x-ray diffraction image of DNA that provided evidence that DNA was in the shape of a double helix.
Flint Northern Academy in MI (11th grade student)
453
If one of your parents has Huntington disease, what is the chance that you will get it?
     Francis Collins, M.D., Ph.D.: Identifying and understanding genes involved in human disease, including type II diabetes. Huntington disease is a dominant condition. That means that each child of an affected person has a 50% chance of inheriting the condition.
Northern High School in MI (10th grade student)
454
Is there a smart gene and why don't I have one?
     Sharon Terry, M.A.: Runs the Genetic Alliance, a coalition of over 600 disease specific advocacy organizations working to increase capacity in advocacy organizations and to leverage the voices of the millions of individuals and families affected by genetic conditions. Ah, great question. There is no one gene associated with intelligence, but your genetic make-up certainly influences your intelligence. However, many other things influence it too - like your environment and what you do to stimulate your mind. So, you do have 'smart' genes! After all, you were smart enough to answer this great question.
Liberty Jr.Sr. High School in PA (12th grade student)
455
Is it beneficial to know your gene history?
     Barbara Biesecker, M.S.: Researching ways to make genetic counseling as effective as possible. It is hard to know your gene history unless family members have had specific genetic testing. However, you may mean to ask about your FAMILY history. This is how genetic counselors and physicians discern genetic risks in families. If you know your family history, you can take that information to your health care provider who can estimate any inherited risks you may face and what can be done about them. Yes, it can be very useful and important to know your family history. To find a tool to map your family history go to www.familyhistory.hhs.gov. You can print it out and take it to your doctor.
Scarlet Oaks in OH (12th grade student)
456
Are there certain places in the world where progeria is more common?
     Francis Collins, M.D., Ph.D.: Identifying and understanding genes involved in human disease, including type II diabetes. As far as we know (and progeria is so rare that it's hard to be 100% sure) this disease occurs at the same rate everywhere.
Therizino (6th grade student)
457
What's a good DNA joke?
     Pnina Laric, M.S.: Coordinates the summer and post-baccalaureate internship and training programs at NHGRI. 1. Do these genes make me look fat? 2. What did one helix say to the other: You're so twisted! 3. All that she wants is another base pair... (reference to Ace of Base song from the mid-nineties- ask your teacher)
Waterville High School in WA (11th grade student)
458
What are chromosomes?
     Shawn Burgess, Ph.D.: Studying developmental processes and their relation to human genetic disease. Chromosomes are the largest pieces of DNA in the organism. Depending on the organism, there can be 1 or >50. They can be linear or circular. Within those large pieces is where all the genes resides. We humans have 24 different chromosomes (1-22, X,Y).
Kannapolis Middle School in NC (8th grade student)
459
Can a man made clone (i.e. Dolly the Sheep), have their own children? Can they reproduce normally?
     Gary Temple, Ph.D.: Building a public collection of gene transcripts (as cDNAs) for use in studying the structure and function of human, mouse, and rat genes. Cloned animals, like Dolly the sheep, can reproduce normally. In fact, they are used primarily for sexual reproduction, to generate progeny/children that have desirable characteristics. Some of the cloned animals themselves have had unexpected problems that presumably result from being cloned, but their sexually produced progeny are generally healthy. Cloned animals are being used more commonly now in animal husbandry.
Rosa L. Parks High School in NJ (10th grade student)
460
What is the difference between RNA and DNA??
     Pnina Laric, M.S.: Coordinates the summer and post-baccalaureate internship and training programs at NHGRI. RNA is transcribed from DNA by enzymes called RNA polymerases and is generally further processed by other enzymes.
Waterville High School in WA (11th grade student)
462
How do you become director of Human Genome Institute?
     Francis Collins, M.D., Ph.D.: Identifying and understanding genes involved in human disease, including type II diabetes. I certainly never planned to get that job offer! I was doing research on human genetic diseases like cystic fibrosis, and dreaming of the day when we would have the whole human genome sequence in hand, when I was asked to apply. I wasn't sure I wanted to do this -- it meant leaving my job at the University of Michigan and moving to Bethesda, Maryland. I'm glad I did, it's been a wonderful adventure. If you'd like to be the next Director, you'll need an MD, PhD, or both, and lots of experience in genomics. But it's a great job!
Winton Woods High School in OH (12th grade student)
463
Where is DNA in the human body?
     Shawn Burgess, Ph.D.: Studying developmental processes and their relation to human genetic disease. Every cell in your body has (or had) an entire copy of your genome (the DNA). If you look closely at the cell, there is a small round structure called the nucleus that holds all that DNA).
Maple Shade High School in NJ (11th grade student)
464
Can a person with Werner syndrome not show any of the symptoms or get older?
     David Adams, M.D., Ph.D.: Studying rare inborn errors of metabolism and other rare genetic syndromes to understand the disease process and identify potential treatments. Werner syndrome is an inherited condition in which affected individuals have symptoms that appear similar to normal aging but that appear earlier in life. There is also a predisposition to some cancers. Persons with Werner syndrome typically develop normally during the first decade of life, so during that time they may not show any symptoms as you suggest. For more information about Werner syndrome, I recommend the Genetics Home Reference. This link worked for me: http://ghr.nlm.nih.gov/condition=wernersyndrome. I have not seen any reports in the literature of a person who has the genetic changes associated with Werner syndrome, but does not have any of the symptoms. That being said, symptoms may appear at variable ages. I recommend that you find a geneticist in your area if you have additional questions.
Flint Northern Academy in MI (10th grade student)
465
Are we trying to find a cure for Diabetes?
     Francis Collins, M.D., Ph.D.: Identifying and understanding genes involved in human disease, including type II diabetes. Absolutely! And the recent discoveries of genetic risk factors for both type 1 and type 2 diabetes provides some of the best clues we've had in a long time for new treatment ideas. Those won't happen overnight, but there is better hope now for a cure than ever before.
Waterville High School in WA (11th grade student)
466
How hard is your job?
     Della Brown White, Ph.D.: Examining social and cultural factors that may influence participation in genetics research among minority populations. The greatest difficulty of my job is trying to interpret the science of genetics and communicate it in a meaningful way to people for whom science is not something they know a great deal about.
Shikellamy High School in PA (9th grade student)
467
why are some people born hearing and become deaf over time with no major cause?
     Belen Hurle, Ph.D.: Generating data for use in developing and refining computational tools for comparing genomic sequence from multiple vertebrate species. Deafness is a very complex disorder. Age-related hearing loss, or presbycusis, is the gradual loss of hearing that occurs as people age. This a quite common process although some people may have more genetic susceptibility than others. On the other hand, several hundred genes are known to cause hereditary hearing loss and deafness. Some people have a genetic disorder that is prelingual (before language develops), for some is postlingual (after language develops).
Maple Shade High School in NJ (9th grade student)
468
Could you suggest a genetics/evolution related novel fit for a good summer read?
     Francis Collins, M.D., Ph.D.: Identifying and understanding genes involved in human disease, including type II diabetes. Try "Spelling Love with an X", a powerful story by a mother of a boy with the fragile X syndrome.
Alpharetta High School in GA (teacher)
469
Is resurrecting extinct animals impossible?
     Belen Hurle, Ph.D.: Generating data for use in developing and refining computational tools for comparing genomic sequence from multiple vertebrate species. I would say with the current technology, yes it is impossible. We can still learn a lot about their biology by studying DNA extracted from their fossils.
Lugoff-Elgin High School in SC (10th grade student)
470
what does dna stand for?
     Shawn Burgess, Ph.D.: Studying developmental processes and their relation to human genetic disease. DNA stands for Deoxyribonucleic acid. RNA stands for Ribonucleic acid.
John C. Fremont High School in CA (10th grade student)
471
Hi Folks! I miss not being there today, but I am doing damage control in Huntsville, Alabama from Francis singing here last night. In all seriousness, lots of excitement down here in Alabama about DNA Day. Have a great and productive chat room! Eric Green
     Francis Collins, M.D., Ph.D.: Identifying and understanding genes involved in human disease, including type II diabetes. We miss you too, Eric! And thanks for your warm comments about my singing talents!
Francis Collins School of Music in AL (Higher Education student)
472
en otro paises ellos tambiem pueden detecta enfermedades a temprana edad?
     Belen Hurle, Ph.D.: Generating data for use in developing and refining computational tools for comparing genomic sequence from multiple vertebrate species. Realmente depende del sistema de salud del pais. La technologia para detectar muchas enfermedades existe, pero en un pais pobre o con dificultades para servir a toda la poblacion, puede ocurrir que los ninos recien nacidos no se beneficien de los tests que son rutinarios para los ninos de paises con mas medios.
Maple Shade High School in NJ (10th grade student)
473
There are many people working across the globe in the fields of Genomics. But, many of them are deprived of quality work just because of financial and social support. Can genomes.gov lend a helping hand to such people so that they can contribute to the genomic biology.
     Francis Collins, M.D., Ph.D.: Identifying and understanding genes involved in human disease, including type II diabetes. Genomics is indeed a science that can be done by people all over the world. In fact, I am about to meet with a high ranking official from the Indian government, to talk about how India can join the effort to apply genomic science to cancer.
Sindhu Mahavidyalaya Centre For Biotechnology NAGPUR, INDIA (teacher)
474
What does Tay-sachs disease do to a human? Can it effect animals? Is there a cure?
     Barbara Biesecker, M.S.: Researching ways to make genetic counseling as effective as possible. Tay-sachs disease is a devastating disorder caused by an enzymatic disorder that leads to neurodegereration. Children lose their skills early in life and end up deaf, cognitively impaired and completely physically dependent. They live until approximately ten years of age but there is variation. The symptoms result from a build-up of gangliosides. Unfortunately there is no cure. Tay-sachs is inherited as a recessive condition meaning that both parents are carriers. It occurs more often in families of Ashkenazi Jewish ancestry and so adults can be screened before having children to learn their carrier status. Animals do not seem to be affected but there is a laboratory mouse model used to study more about the condition.
Kannapolis Middle School in NC (8th grade student)
475
is it necessary to learn about D.N.A.
     Carla Easter, Ph.D.: Creates and implements genetic education programs. Works with the branch to create science education products for high school students. This is the first time in history that we are able to apply our knowledge of DNA for the benefit of human health and provide clues about our ancestry. In addition, understanding one's genetics is becoming more and more important in making decisions about your personal health as well as making ethical and legal decisions regarding how society uses this information.
Maple Shade High School in NJ (10th grade student)
476
what species of ape are you?
     Francis Collins, M.D., Ph.D.: Identifying and understanding genes involved in human disease, including type II diabetes. Homo sapiens sapiens -- at least on a good day
Alpharetta High School in GA (9th grade student)
477
How many years of college did you go through and why did you want this job?
     Shawn Burgess, Ph.D.: Studying developmental processes and their relation to human genetic disease. For a biologist, my amount of time in school is pretty typical: 4 years of undergraduate, 5 1/2 years in graduate school, and 5 years in what is called a "postdoc" before I obtained my current position. I like being a scientist because of the creative freedom, the chance to discover something that no one else knows, and individuality that the profession provides. I also hate wearing ties.
Palms Middle School in CA (7th grade student)
478
What is the best part of being a geneticist?
     Carla Easter, Ph.D.: Creates and implements genetic education programs. Works with the branch to create science education products for high school students. I love giving presentations and providing people with the information about genetics.
John C. Fremont High School in CA (10th grade student)
479
Do children get mutations before they are born?
     Dale Lea, R.N., M.P.H., C.G.C., F.A.A.N.: Developing genetics, health education and community involvement programs and resources, and translating genetic and genomic information for the public. Yes, children do get mutations before they are born. When a gene mutation in either the egg or sperm - or a gene mutation in both the egg and sperm - that come together to form a baby, the baby will have the gene mutation (or mutations) at the time of conception.
Palms Middle School in CA (7th grade student)
480
Is there works in DNA to possibly alter what language we speak or possibly allo us to speak snother language?
     Francis Collins, M.D., Ph.D.: Identifying and understanding genes involved in human disease, including type II diabetes. The human genome provides an amazing instruction set that results in a complex brain with the ability to learn and speak languages -- but not any specific language. That part is up to us.
Alpharetta High School in GA (9th grade student)
481
How old does a child have to be to get DNA tested??
     Sharon Terry, M.A.: Runs the Genetic Alliance, a coalition of over 600 disease specific advocacy organizations working to increase capacity in advocacy organizations and to leverage the voices of the millions of individuals and families affected by genetic conditions. Wow, you have asked a very hard question. There are several answers.

1) All newborns in the US are tested at birth for a number of diseases, and some of those involve having DNA tested. Our society, including researchers, clinicians, lay people and policy makers, decided that newborns need testing for some diseases when they are born, so they can be treated, or the parents can plan better.

2) If the family is considering testing a child for a disease that they might get when they are older, then many things must be considered. The family's culture, their need to plan, and their ability to manage the information they learn are important. Also, the child's autonomy must be considered: Will they wish they did not know? Will they be able to handle the information? Do they want to know?

Of course, as a child gets older they should have more say in the decision.
Waterville High School in WA (8th grade student)
482
I know that there are short sequences of specific code that make us different from any other person, but do some people have more nucleotides than others? [mason]
     Francis Collins, M.D., Ph.D.: Identifying and understanding genes involved in human disease, including type II diabetes. Yes! You're asking a question that is very "hot" right now. A paper that is being published next week (!) shows that different individuals do in fact have slight differences (as much as 0.5%) in their total amount of DNA -- because of large regions of the genome that can be duplicated or deleted.
Rock Canyon High School in CO (10th grade student)
483
Peter Scalise in CA (7th grade )
484
What is DNA built of?
     Shawn Burgess, Ph.D.: Studying developmental processes and their relation to human genetic disease. DNA is a very, very, very long molecule made up of repeating units called nucleotides. The backbone of the nucleotides is the same, but the "bases" attached to the backbone can change. There are 4 different bases, (A,C,G,T) and that is where all the genetic information for making an organism resides.
Eternity High School (9th grade student)
485
What Is Pseudoxanthoma Elasticum? [For Sharon]
     Sharon Terry, M.A.: Runs the Genetic Alliance, a coalition of over 600 disease specific advocacy organizations working to increase capacity in advocacy organizations and to leverage the voices of the millions of individuals and families affected by genetic conditions. Pseudoxanthoma elasticum, PXE, is an inherited disorder that causes select elastic tissue in the body to become mineralized, that is, calcium and other minerals are deposited in the tissue. This can result in changes in the skin, eyes, cardiovascular system and gastrointestinal system. PXE was recognized over a hundred years ago. A number of significant advances have been made in the past few years.

In plain English, that means that people with PXE get wrinkly skin, lose their vision and might have cramping in their legs when they walk.

You can go to http://www.pxe.org for more information.
Kittanning Senior High School in PA (10th grade student)
486
Should I be concerned if my grandmother had breast cancer and died from it? Should I be worried about myself?
     Barbara Biesecker, M.S.: Researching ways to make genetic counseling as effective as possible. Breast cancer is a common condition meaning that it is caused by genes and environment. It results from multiple causes. It is more likely to be inherited in families where multiple members are affected. If your grandmother developed breast cancer later in her life (not an uncommon occurrence), it does not increase your risk substantially. Your chances would be higher if you had multiple affected family members and/or if they got cancer early (before 50 years of age). If you are at all concerned, contact a genetic counselor about your risks. You can find one on the NSGC website: www.NSGC.org.
Waterville High School in WA (12th grade student)

Information - Moderator The Essay question winners were announced at noon. Please check your chatroom transcript to see the winners!


488
There are conflicting studies that either support or refute a genetic factor which predisposes someone to being overweight. Knowing that there are environmental factors (and willpower) that influence one's weight, how do you feel about the manipulation or misrepresentation of this data? (It often seems that these are being used as excuses!)
     Della Brown White, Ph.D.: Examining social and cultural factors that may influence participation in genetics research among minority populations. For many health conditions there are genetic, environmental, behavioral and even social factors that can influence whether an individual is affected by a condition. As we continue to understand the genetic basis of disease it will be important for us to develop appropriate messages to the lay public so that the data is useful for people in making decisions that affect their health.
Rosa L. Parks High School in NJ (teacher)
489
cuanto tiempo se lleva para detecta una enfermedad mysteriosa?
     Belen Hurle, Ph.D.: Generating data for use in developing and refining computational tools for comparing genomic sequence from multiple vertebrate species. I will give you an example: Progeria is an extremely rare condition in which physical aspects of aging are greatly accelerated, and few affected children live past age 13. About 1 in 8 million babies are born with this condition. It is a genetic condition, but occurs sporadically and is usually not inherited in families. Well, the disease was clinically described in 1886 and the gene responsible for it was cloned in 2003. So it took 117 to discover the gene! Fortunately not always it takes so long. Te voy a dar un ejemplo: la progeria es una enfermedad muy, muy rara (1 caso entre 8 millones) en la que los ninos envejecen aceleradamente. Muy pocos ninos viven mas de 13 anos. La enfermedad se describio geneticamente en 1886 , pero el gen responsable no se clono hasta 2003. Asi que llevo 117 anos descubrir el gen! Menos mal que los genes defectuosos en muchas otras enfermedades se descubren mucho mas rapido.
Maple Shade High School in NJ (10th grade student)
490
How many cells are in the body?
     Shawn Burgess, Ph.D.: Studying developmental processes and their relation to human genetic disease. Right now, there is no real answer to that question (can you imagine counting them all?). There are a variety of estimates that range from 10 trillion to 100 trillion. I can safely say there are an amazingly large number of cells in our body.
Palms Middle School in CA (7th grade student)
491
Will it ever be possible for someone to live forever?
     Sharon Terry, M.A.: Runs the Genetic Alliance, a coalition of over 600 disease specific advocacy organizations working to increase capacity in advocacy organizations and to leverage the voices of the millions of individuals and families affected by genetic conditions. Hum, I suppose anything is possible, but although there are improvements that extend life, such as better diet, better hygiene, and even treatments for disease that let people live longer, probably no one will live forever.

Longevity most certainly has a genetic component, and there are research studies considering how to extend lifespan.

Eternity High School (9th grade student)
492
What is Huntington disease? What does it do to your body?
     Dale Lea, R.N., M.P.H., C.G.C., F.A.A.N.: Developing genetics, health education and community involvement programs and resources, and translating genetic and genomic information for the public. Huntington disease is a progressive brain disorder that causes uncontrolled movements, mental and emotional problems, and loss of thinking ability (cognition). Adult-onset Huntington disease, the most common form of this disorder, usually appears in a person's thirties or forties. Early signs and symptoms can include irritability, depression, small involuntary movements, poor coordination, and trouble learning new information or making decisions. As the disease progresses, involuntary jerking movements (chorea) become more pronounced. Affected individuals may have trouble walking, speaking, and swallowing. People with this disorder typically also experience changes in personality and a decline in thinking and reasoning abilities. Individuals with the adult-onset form of Huntington disease generally survive about 15 to 25 years after signs and symptoms begin. For more information about Huntington disease you can go tohttp://ghr.nlm.nih.gov/condition=huntingtondisease
Souderton Area High School in PA (10th grade student)
493
Question for Larry Thompson, M.S, M.F.A. : I got to witness how excited you got when you got a direct question so I have a legitimate question for you. What about biology interests you so much/
     Larry Thompson, M.S., M.F.A.: Leads the Communications Branch at the Genome Institute. So, OK, maybe I got carried away being so excited. I'll try to tone it down. :-) But as for what's cool about biology -- and DNA -- is that it's all about life, and in some ways, the meaning of life. We can see the history of all life on the planet -- and how it has evolved -- written in the DNA, and while that is cool, it is life itself, the plants and animals in all their beauty and complexity, that is ultimately the study of biology, and that, in so many ways, is profound.
Kittanning Senior High School in PA (10th grade student)
494
What do you think of the theory that homosexuality is genetically similar to an addiction, where if exposed to certain environmental factors, they will become homosexual?
     Les Biesecker, M.D.: Researching the clinical and molecular delineation of human malformation syndromes. Human behaviors are some of the most complex traits a geneticist could try to tackle. All traits are a complex mix of genes and environment and behavior is no exception. Sexual preference, addiction, depression, risk taking, etc. will all take a while to work out. I think it is highly likely that both genes and environment have an important role.
Rock Canyon High School in CO (12th grade student)
495
Due to the significant discoveries being made at the current time, when do you believe your research topics may be hindered from growing moral concerns?
     Sharon Terry, M.A.: Runs the Genetic Alliance, a coalition of over 600 disease specific advocacy organizations working to increase capacity in advocacy organizations and to leverage the voices of the millions of individuals and families affected by genetic conditions. I think it is possible for research to be hindered by more concerns. It does happen and sometimes should happen.

In some instances, a whole society has moral concerns, and the society decides to stop research. A good example is cloning humans.

In other instances, there might be moral concerns which are only important to a subset of the society, and instead a discussion should occur to determine whether or not to hinder research. Some examples might be genetic testing in children, testing in certain populations, gene therapy and stem cell research. These are not all cut and dry.

Lugoff-Elgin High School in SC (10th grade student)
496
Why is the human genome so important?
     Shawn Burgess, Ph.D.: Studying developmental processes and their relation to human genetic disease. The human genome project has resulted in a remarkable number of discoveries, both anticipated and unexpected. The completion of the project has given us insights into human genetic disease, evolutionary biology, gene regulation, retroviral infection, and on and on and on. It is truly a monumental human achievement on par with landing on the moon.
Palms Middle School in CA (7th grade student)
497
Why do people get mutations?
     Faith Pangilinan, Ph.D.: Looking for genetic risk factors for human birth defects (mainly spina bifida). Genetic changes can be caused by exposure to chemicals or radiation, or even by mistakes being made when DNA copies are made (replication). Keep in mind that while some mutations contribute to disease, most genetic changes have no effect.
Palms Middle School in CA (7th grade student)
498
What was the coolest research you ever got to be a part of? Why did you like it so much?
     Les Biesecker, M.D.: Researching the clinical and molecular delineation of human malformation syndromes. I don't know about "cool", but "exciting and rewarding" I can answer. Because of my role in the genome project, I was invited to work on the project to help identify the victims of the 9/11 World Trade Center attack using DNA technology. This is a great example of the wonderful work that scientists can do to help their fellow humankind. For more information see: http://www.sciencemag.org/cgi/content/full/310/5751/1122
Rock Canyon High School in CO (11th grade student)
499
Is there a reasonable limit for research into genetics?
     Della Brown White, Ph.D.: Examining social and cultural factors that may influence participation in genetics research among minority populations. Yes, as with all research there are limits. In the case of genetics there are many scientists who specifically study the ethical, legal and social implications surrounding genetics research to make sure that genetic findings can be used to improve the health of all people.
Lugoff-Elgin High School in SC (10th grade student)
500
If my dad and grandfather both have diabetes, what are my chances of also having this disease?
     Barbara Biesecker, M.S.: Researching ways to make genetic counseling as effective as possible. Diabetes is a common disease of adulthood (this assumes that they got it later in life and not as children). It is caused by multiple factors, some genetic. Your risk can be estimated by looking at how many people in your family are affected and their age when they were diagnosed. If you are concerned about your risks, you can complete a family history tool and take it to your physician to get your questions answered about your risks. You can find one at www.familyhistory.hhs.gov that you can complete, print out and take to your doctor.
Genesee School District in MI (10th grade student)
501
What is the worst thing that can happen to you to alter your DNA that you can prevent from happening?
     Dale Lea, R.N., M.P.H., C.G.C., F.A.A.N.: Developing genetics, health education and community involvement programs and resources, and translating genetic and genomic information for the public. We know that lung cancer is serious and often fatal disease. Researchers are sure that cigarette smoking can alter your DNA, so not smoking or quitting smoking is a means of prevention. We also know that skin can be caused by too much sun exposure. Excessive sun exposure can also cause gene changes, so avoiding too much sun or protecting your skin with sun block can help to prevent gene changes from happening.
Lugoff-Elgin High School in SC (10th grade student)
502
Do you like Lost?
     Shawn Burgess, Ph.D.: Studying developmental processes and their relation to human genetic disease. It is one of my favorite TV shows. I am currently actively trying to crack the code (4 8 15 16 23 42). I am also trying to get our institute name changed from NHGRI to DHARMA...
Kittanning Senior High School in PA (10th grade student)
503
Larry, it is okay excessive excitement gets the best of us. :=)
     Larry Thompson, M.S., M.F.A.: Leads the Communications Branch at the Genome Institute. You are right. It is OK to be excited about this stuff and I appreciate your support.
Kittanning Senior High School in PA (10th grade student)
504
How many times could the DNA from all your cells wrap around the world?
     Carla Easter, Ph.D.: Creates and implements genetic education programs. Works with the branch to create science education products for high school students. I estimate that the DNA in our cells would wrap around the world about 350 times.
Genesee School District in MI (10th grade teacher)
505
What are your feelings on genetic alteration?
     Sharon Terry, M.A.: Runs the Genetic Alliance, a coalition of over 600 disease specific advocacy organizations working to increase capacity in advocacy organizations and to leverage the voices of the millions of individuals and families affected by genetic conditions. I think it is important to think about both feelings and thoughts when answering a question like this.

It depends on what you mean by genetic alteration. If you mean to alleviate a disease, then I think it is good - and I look forward to genetics and genomics integrated into medicine for better health.

If you mean genetic altering non-disease things, such as athletic prowess, intelligence, and behavior, then I think we have to do more than consider our feelings and look deeply as a society into the ramifications of the alteration.

Sharon High School in PA (12th grade student)
506
What is Acute Myelogenous Leukemia?
     Jennifer Sloan, M.S., Ph.D., C.G.C.: Involved in Genetic Counseling, as well as studying the very rare metabolic condition Methylmalonic Acidemia, and the more common condition Neurofibromatosis Type I. Thanks for your question. Acute Myelogenous Leukemia is a common type of leukemia or cancer of the blood. You can find out more information at the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society webpage http://www.leukemia-lymphoma.org/.
Miyuki in NC (11th grade student)
507
Why arent babies born with pigmentation?
     Barbara Biesecker, M.S.: Researching ways to make genetic counseling as effective as possible. All babies are born with pigmentation in their skin. There is tremendous variation in skin color caused by multiple genes. Babies inherit the genes that determine skin color from their parents. Babies with less pigmentation have a condition called albinism.
Maple Shade High School in NJ (10th grade student)
508
Does the smoke monster from the Lost TV show have DNA?
     Shawn Burgess, Ph.D.: Studying developmental processes and their relation to human genetic disease. It would be very exciting if it was the first lifeform ever discovered that did not use DNA or RNA. This is a mystery that we need to commit more resources to studying.
Kittanning Senior High School in PA (10th grade student)
509
Where does the word deoxyribonucleic acid moce from?
     Carla Easter, Ph.D.: Creates and implements genetic education programs. Works with the branch to create science education products for high school students. It is derived from the names of the chemicals involved in the molecules make up.
Holy Family Catholic High School in MN (9th grade student)
510
What are some examples in genetics of things that are done, but shouldn't be done?
     Sharon Terry, M.A.: Runs the Genetic Alliance, a coalition of over 600 disease specific advocacy organizations working to increase capacity in advocacy organizations and to leverage the voices of the millions of individuals and families affected by genetic conditions. I don't think I know of anything that is done that shouldn't be done - but that, of course, is a personal opinion. But certainly, some people think that stem cell research, animal cloning and gene therapy is wrong.
Lugoff-Elgin High School in SC (10th grade student)
511
What do you like about your job?
     Dale Lea, R.N., M.P.H., C.G.C., F.A.A.N.: Developing genetics, health education and community involvement programs and resources, and translating genetic and genomic information for the public. I am a nurse by training and I have a degree in public health. I work at the National Human Genome Research Institute as a Health Educator. My job is to oversee projects and create educational materials that help to translate genetic and genomic discoveries and what they mean for individual, family and public health. There are so many wonderful genetic and genomic discoveries that are leading to better ways to screen for, diagnose and treat common and rare diseases. I really like being on the cutting edge of bringing this information to people.
John C. Fremont High School in CA (10th grade )
512
Does every part of your body have cells?
     Shawn Burgess, Ph.D.: Studying developmental processes and their relation to human genetic disease. All the "living" parts of your body does consist of cells, but there are parts of the body that are not composed of cells. The most obvious example is that much of your bone mass consists of extracellular mineral deposits (this is the part that sticks around long after you are dead).
Zachary High School in CA (10th grade )
513
What was your favorite subject in school?
     Della Brown White, Ph.D.: Examining social and cultural factors that may influence participation in genetics research among minority populations. My favorite subject in school was chemistry. It allowed me to learn more about science and to sharpen my mathematical skills at the same time.
Rock Canyon High School in CO (10th grade student)
514
Is it possible that, for people who have had limbs removed as a result of accidents, that genes could be turned on to grow new limbs?
     Faith Pangilinan, Ph.D.: Looking for genetic risk factors for human birth defects (mainly spina bifida). Unlike people, some species (like salamanders or newts) are able to regenerate limbs. Research into how they do this may help us figure out whether it's possible to encourage this process in people.
Lugoff-Elgin High School in SC (10th grade student)
515
Are there any drugs or medications that can alter your DNA structure?
     Barbara Biesecker, M.S.: Researching ways to make genetic counseling as effective as possible. Very few drugs or medications actually alter DNA. Agents that are capable of doing so are called mutagens. The most well known mutagens are chemotherapeutic agents. They target cancer cells and in their action to destroy them, they alter DNA. Ultraviolet light exposure can alter DNA as well.
Maple Shade High School in NJ (10th grade student)
516
is there anything else that you guys are trying to accomplish in the HGP other than what you have accomplished
     Larry Thompson, M.S., M.F.A.: Leads the Communications Branch at the Genome Institute. Absolutely. Completing the Human Genome Project was just the beginning. Since the project was declared completed in April 2003, genome researchers around the world are racing to apply the sequence information to may different problems, especially understanding the genetic differences between individuals and how that may contribute to health or the risk of getting sick. We are also learning fascinating things about how humans have evolved and how we have moved across the face of the planet. The really cool stuff is just getting started, so come on and join the fun.
Palms Middle School in CA (7th grade student)
517
What is dna day?
     Carla Easter, Ph.D.: Creates and implements genetic education programs. Works with the branch to create science education products for high school students. DNA Day is the day we celebrate the initial completion of the Human Genome Project and the anniversary of the publishing of the Watson and Crick paper characterizing DNA.
Kannapolis Middle School in NC (8th grade student)
518
How much does DNA have to do with eugenics?
     Sharon Terry, M.A.: Runs the Genetic Alliance, a coalition of over 600 disease specific advocacy organizations working to increase capacity in advocacy organizations and to leverage the voices of the millions of individuals and families affected by genetic conditions. DNA and genetics could be used in eugenics - someone could decide that society needs to eradicate a certain disease, population, type of person, or all people who send questions into the DNA Day Chat Room. :-)
Holy Family Catholic High School in MN (9th grade student)
519
Which chromosomes contain the most important genes to our development as a fetus?
     Jennifer Sloan, M.S., Ph.D., C.G.C.: Involved in Genetic Counseling, as well as studying the very rare metabolic condition Methylmalonic Acidemia, and the more common condition Neurofibromatosis Type I. Great question! All of our chromosomes contain genes that are important in fetal development. Humans have 46 chromosomes total. Children born with parts of chromosomes missing often have birth defects.
Rock Canyon High School in CO (10th grade student)
520
Therizino (6th grade student)
521
What is it like to do research on DNA?
     Carla Easter, Ph.D.: Creates and implements genetic education programs. Works with the branch to create science education products for high school students. It is very exciting to be involved in research on genetics. Everyday there are new discoveries.
West Seneca East Senior High School in NY (10th grade student)
522
I realize how touchy this question could be, but do any of you believe that this whole genetic structure is actually random? Or is there something and/or someone that made it this way?
     Les Biesecker, M.D.: Researching the clinical and molecular delineation of human malformation syndromes. No one thinks the structure of DNA is random - it is highly organized on many levels. The question is whether the process whereby it acquired its organization was random or directed. I am completely comfortable with the notion that the evolution of life occurred by selective pressure exerted on random genome (and pregenome) changes. I think the preponderance of the evidence strongly favors this explanation.
Kittanning Senior High School in PA (9th grade student)
523
Is the original DNA structure created by Watson and Crick still around?
     Larry Thompson, M.S., M.F.A.: Leads the Communications Branch at the Genome Institute. Unfortunately, I do not believe that it is. Watson and Crick made the original model out of parts normally found in the lab, like poles and holders for flasks, and brackets and braces. The metal shop at Cambridge made accurate representations of the bases so Watson and Crick could build a model that exactly matched the x-ray images created by Rosalind Franklin and her colleagues at Kings College. I believe the model is no logner intact because a few years ago, I met a Smithsonian curator and he had a couple of pieces of metal plates made by the Cambridge machine shop for the Watson Crick model in his desk drawer.
Oak Hill Elementary in KS (5th grade student)
524
can a gene that can cause harm, be eliminated or "shut off"
     Les Biesecker, M.D.: Researching the clinical and molecular delineation of human malformation syndromes. Scientists are hard at work at this - there is hope for some diseases where the mutant gene product (protein) can be reduced in level or shut off by siRNA, short interfering RNA molecules.
Alpharetta High School in GA (9th grade student)
525
Do you enjoy your Job?
     Sharon Terry, M.A.: Runs the Genetic Alliance, a coalition of over 600 disease specific advocacy organizations working to increase capacity in advocacy organizations and to leverage the voices of the millions of individuals and families affected by genetic conditions. I love my job! I am fortunate enough to work with many exciting and brilliant people. I get to work for people with genetic diseases. I am thrilled by thinking about how to change and better the systems that contribute to health. I think that in this age of the dawn of personalized medicine, we are going to see exciting breakthroughs!!
John C. Fremont High School in CA (9th grade student)
526
how old were you when you decided you were intrested in the human genome?
     Carla Easter, Ph.D.: Creates and implements genetic education programs. Works with the branch to create science education products for high school students. I was about 25 when I decided that I wanted to do genetic research. At that time, the Human Genome Project was just beginning. When I was about 35, I became very interested in the human genome and began working for a sequencing center.
John C. Fremont High School in CA (10th grade student)
527
What is a gene?
     Shawn Burgess, Ph.D.: Studying developmental processes and their relation to human genetic disease. Surprisingly, this is not such an easy answer. Traditionally it is defined as a the basic unit of heredity or a segment of DNA needed to contribute to a function. We normally view that to mean pieces of DNA that code for proteins, but more and more discoveries have shown that there are many other kinds of "genes" in the genome and there will probably be more discovered in the future.
Kannapolis Middle School in NC (8th grade student)
528
Scientists think that stopping the shortening of telomeres would end aging in humans. Is this too simplistic to become reality?
     Faith Pangilinan, Ph.D.: Looking for genetic risk factors for human birth defects (mainly spina bifida). Although it's been seen that the shortening of telomeres are associated with aging, it hasn't been shown that it causes aging. So even if we could figure out the considerable challenge of how to stop telomere shortening, there's no guarantee it would stop aging.
Bronx HS of Science in NY (12th grade student)
529
could you clone extinct animals?
     Larry Thompson, M.S., M.F.A.: Leads the Communications Branch at the Genome Institute. Certainly, the National Human Genome Research Institute is not working on cloning extinct animals; we primarily focus on medical research. Moreover, I am unaware of any research teams actively trying to clone an extinct animal. Some researchers have speculated about the possiblity of doing cloning an extinct animals, but I don't know anyone actually trying to do it.
Kannapolis Middle School in NC (8th grade student)
530
what is penotype?
     Carla Easter, Ph.D.: Creates and implements genetic education programs. Works with the branch to create science education products for high school students. The observable traits or characteristics of an organism, for example hair color, weight, or the presence or absence of a disease. Phenotypic traits are not necessarily genetic.
Palms Middle School in CA (7th grade student)
531
Why are diseases most of the time hereditary?
     Les Biesecker, M.D.: Researching the clinical and molecular delineation of human malformation syndromes. Because genes encode proteins and proteins are the main machinery of the cell that allows it to carry out its functions. The cell's inability to carry out its functions (which is what a disease is) is often the result of a malfunctioning protein, which is encoded by a gene with a mutation. Since we inherit our genes, then diseases are inherited too!
John C. Fremont High School in CA (10th grade student)
532
Yesterday the senate passed a bill prohibiting Insurence and businesses from discriminating against people with genetic diseases so how do you think this will benefit society? (Andrew)
     Sharon Terry, M.A.: Runs the Genetic Alliance, a coalition of over 600 disease specific advocacy organizations working to increase capacity in advocacy organizations and to leverage the voices of the millions of individuals and families affected by genetic conditions. I worked on getting that bill passed for the last 13 years! I worked hard on it, along with thousands of other people, because I believe that the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act (GINA) paves the way for the responsible use of genetic information while protecting against discrimination with respect to health insurance and employment.

People will feel less afraid to be tests, and to participate in clinical trials, and so personal health and our understanding of health and disease will be advanced. I am so thrilled by this and look forward to the bill becoming law!
Rock Canyon High School in CO (12th grade student)
534
Why isn't my project working?!?!?!?!?!
     Shawn Burgess, Ph.D.: Studying developmental processes and their relation to human genetic disease. In scientific research, failure is more common than success. The key is not to give up. Try to figure out all the possible places where the failure occurs, then systematically try to fix them. There is a Thomas Edison quote: "I have not failed. I've just found 10,000 ways that won't work."
UCD in CA (Higher Education student)
536
Why are some diseases hereditary?
     Dale Lea, R.N., M.P.H., C.G.C., F.A.A.N.: Developing genetics, health education and community involvement programs and resources, and translating genetic and genomic information for the public. We know that genes are handed down or inherited from generation to generation. Some genes that are handed down cause genetic disorders such as Huntington Disease or hereditary cancers. Other genes that are handed down contribute to a person's height or eye color. Most genes that are handed down in families create a healthy human being.
Kannapolis Middle School in NC (8th grade student)
537
Are illnesses such as schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, and ADHD genetically inherited through DNA?
     Barbara Biesecker, M.S.: Researching ways to make genetic counseling as effective as possible. Psychiatric conditions do have a genetic component but are caused by a combination of factors, environmental and genetic. Rarely they may be inherited in families where many people are affected. Genes that contribute to the risk of these conditions are being uncovered regularly but each of them contribute to only a small degree. The best ways to predict risks of psychiatric conditions in families today is to obtain a careful family history. The number of affected individuals and the age of onset of the conditions predict the risk in a family.
Scarlet Oaks in OH (12th grade student)
538
How many cells do we have in our body
     Carla Easter, Ph.D.: Creates and implements genetic education programs. Works with the branch to create science education products for high school students. Estimates put the number anywhere from 10 trillion to 100 trillion. In other words, a whole bunch.
Kannapolis Middle School in NC (8th grade student)
539
What made you decide to enter this field of study?
     Faith Pangilinan, Ph.D.: Looking for genetic risk factors for human birth defects (mainly spina bifida). The first time I asked a teacher a question that she couldn't answer, it was about genetics. I thought it was pretty cool to stump my high school biology teacher! Genetics has continued to challenge and fascinate me ever since.
St. Bernard Catholic High School in CA (10th grade student)
540
Do you think we will ever find a cure for cancer?
     Dale Lea, R.N., M.P.H., C.G.C., F.A.A.N.: Developing genetics, health education and community involvement programs and resources, and translating genetic and genomic information for the public. Researchers are working very hard to find cures for cancer. As a result of human genome discoveries, there are now more treatments that are specific to a person's type of cancer and the mutations that are present. To learn more about cancer research that is leading to cures for cancer go to www.cancer.gov.
Maple Shade High School in NJ (10th grade student)
541
If you smoke how, long can it take to get lung cancer?
     Les Biesecker, M.D.: Researching the clinical and molecular delineation of human malformation syndromes. The time from onset of smoking to the onset of cancer is years to decades. But smoking causes many other shorter term problems. First is the addiction - some feel it is more addictive than narcotics. Then there is the heart disease and lung disease. There are few diseases more awful than end stage lung disease - worse in some ways than is cancer. Then there are the dental and gum effects - nasty. Finally, as the old ad campaign said "Kissing a smoker is like licking out a used ashtray" Yuck.
Souderton Area High School in PA (10th grade student)
542
Could cloning food be the answer to ending world hunger?
     Sharon Terry, M.A.: Runs the Genetic Alliance, a coalition of over 600 disease specific advocacy organizations working to increase capacity in advocacy organizations and to leverage the voices of the millions of individuals and families affected by genetic conditions. Interesting question - yes, I suppose it could help in some ways. Since cloning technically includes swapping genes in and out of organisms, research that inserted pest-resistant genes in grain is a kind of genetic cloning.

If you mean cloning animals, then I think that would be more costly overall, at least where the science of cloning organisms stands at this time.
Alpharetta High School in GA (9th grade student)
543
What are some cool facts about DNA?
     Shawn Burgess, Ph.D.: Studying developmental processes and their relation to human genetic disease. Here is a link that has 100 facts about DNA: http://www.eyeondna.com/2007/08/20/100-facts-about-dna/
Souderton Area High School in PA (10th grade student)
544
We are learning about traits like dry/wet ear wax. Where exactly are those genes located and how are they important?
     Jennifer Sloan, M.S., Ph.D., C.G.C.: Involved in Genetic Counseling, as well as studying the very rare metabolic condition Methylmalonic Acidemia, and the more common condition Neurofibromatosis Type I. In 2006, scientists in Japan discovered that differences in the ATP-binding cassette C11 (ABCC11) gene were responsible for dry/wet ear wax. This gene is located on chromosome 16q12.1 and is not only important for ear wax. The gene encodes a transporter important for other physiological processes involving bile acids, steroids, and nucleotides.
West Perry High School in PA (12th grade student)
545
how much money did it take for you to finish the human genome project?
     Larry Thompson, M.S., M.F.A.: Leads the Communications Branch at the Genome Institute. The Human Genome Project officially began in October 1990 and it was projected to take 15 years and cost about $3 billion. The project did something few government programs accomplish: it was completed ahead of time and under budget. The project's goals were accomplished by April 2003, the 50th anniversary of the discovery of the double helix by Watson and Crick, and the total cost of the program was $2.7 million. The actual sequencing of human DNA that went into the reference genome sequence is estimated to have cost about $450 million. The rest of the money was spent creating genetic maps; building libraries of DNA for use in the project; investing in the technology development that produced the high-speed sequencing machines now revolutionizing the field; sequencing model organisms and investing 5% of the budget in studies of the ethical, legal and social implications of genomic research, what's called the ELSI program.
Palms Middle School in CA (7th grade student)
546
How long did you go to school for? Also, what school?
     Shawn Burgess, Ph.D.: Studying developmental processes and their relation to human genetic disease. I went to Wesleyan University (Connecticut) for 4 years of undergraduate research, 6 years of graduate school at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, and 5 years of postdoctoral studies at MIT.
Bednarcik Junior High School in IL (8th grade student)


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Posted: April 25, 2008