2009 National DNA Day Online Chatroom Transcript

National Human Genome Research Institute

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


2009 National DNA Day Online Chatroom Transcript

The 2009 National DNA Day Moderated Chat was held on Friday, April 24th, 2009 from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Eastern. NHGRI Acting Director Alan Guttmacher, M.D. and genomics experts from across the institute and around the nation 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 National DNA Day Chatroom for 2009! We have experts here ready to answer your questions. So, send them in!


21
What are the problems that are currently preventing the effective use of gene therapy in humans?
     David Bodine, M.D., Ph.D.: I investigate the genetics of pluripotent hematopoietic stem cells (PHSCs) to improve the effectiveness of bone marrow transplantation and to find better ways to use these unique cells for gene replacement therapy. Very few. Although the news papers have not been reporting the successes like they do the problems, the last two years have shown very successful applications of gene therapy. in Cancer Gene therapy has completely irradicated several different kinds of tumors and I predict that there will be FDA approved cancer gene therapy in a year Kids who were blind have had their sight restored by gene therapy and the immune deficient kids (even those you might have heard about that got sick) are all well now. The two biggest problems we have are that sometimes when you make a new protein in a patient, their immune system recognizes it as foreign, and the other is to make sure that we don't cause an unexpected disease while we are curing one.
Saint Ignatius High School in IL (student)

Information - Moderator Here with us now is Dr. David Bodine. his lab works on basic science related to gene therapy.


23
What part of the genome is thought to be affected in children with ADD? Have any genes been associated with the disorder?
     Nisha Isaac, M.S., C.G.C.: Nisha Isaac is a board certified genetic counselor who is especially interested in cultural diversity and facilitating the availability and access of genetic services to all populations. Nisha has broad clinical and research experience that includes prenatal, pediatric, research and cancer genetics. Currently, Nisha is providing cancer genetic services at both St. Agnes Hospital and St. Josephs Cancer Institure in the Baltimore area. This condition is still being researched. Therefore, the exact cause of ADD and the part of the genome that is affected has not yet been identified. There are studies looking at "candidate genes" but nothing has been confirmed as yet.
Saint Ignatius High School in IL (student)

Information - Moderator We also now have Dr. Donna Krasnewich. She studies abnormal metabolism of carbohydrates.


25
What practical uses will the study of the Neanderthal genome have?
     David Bodine, M.D., Ph.D.: I investigate the genetics of pluripotent hematopoietic stem cells (PHSCs) to improve the effectiveness of bone marrow transplantation and to find better ways to use these unique cells for gene replacement therapy. Lots. I think that we can use this sequence to learn more about ourselves. Particularly, I think we can learn about the genes for language because we are much more developed in that area compared to neanderthals. Knowing which genes help us speak could help us treat people who have speech problems.
Saint Ignatius High School in IL (student)

Information - Moderator And please welcome Phyllis Frosst. She's a policy expert whose work involves issues like genetic discrimination and genetic testing.



Information - Moderator Joining the chat is Dale Lea, who is a genetic counselor who translates genetic and genomic information to the public.


28
What sort of information do researchers hope to gather by studying the DNA of ancient hominids?
     David Bodine, M.D., Ph.D.: I investigate the genetics of pluripotent hematopoietic stem cells (PHSCs) to improve the effectiveness of bone marrow transplantation and to find better ways to use these unique cells for gene replacement therapy. Lots. I think that we can use this sequence to learn more about ourselves. Particularly, I think we can learn about the genes for language because we are much more developed in that area compared to neanderthals. Knowing which genes help us speak could help us treat people who have speech problems.
Saint Ignatius High School in IL (student)
29
what inspired you to study dna?
     Phyllis Frosst, Ph.D.: I investigate genetic discrimination, direct-to-consumer marketing of genetic tests and pharmacogenomics. Good morning! I loved shows about biology and animals when I was younger, and really liked genetics once we studied it in High School. Something about how it was a bit like math (there were rules) but genetics had meaning that you could see and understand. Somehow, it's never stopped being interesting.
Wantagh High School in NY (10th grade student)
30
Have you ever collected results from your research that you needed to reconsider, refashion and present in such a way as not to be doubted?
     David Bodine, M.D., Ph.D.: I investigate the genetics of pluripotent hematopoietic stem cells (PHSCs) to improve the effectiveness of bone marrow transplantation and to find better ways to use these unique cells for gene replacement therapy. When you get results that do not make sense to you, it means that you either were testing the wrong hypothesis or you were using the wrong methods. So when we get confusing results we are trained to get over it and either refine our hypothesis or try a new method.
Saint Ignatius High School in IL (student)

Information - Moderator Please welcome Jean McEwen Program Director, and a lawyer who studies ethical, legal, and social implications.



Information - Moderator Now joining the chatroom is Dr. Tom Markello, who studies rare genetic disorders.


33
What are the factors of halting GMO production? And how is it affect on the environment?
     Phyllis Frosst, Ph.D.: I investigate genetic discrimination, direct-to-consumer marketing of genetic tests and pharmacogenomics. There are a some unanswered research questions about GMO foods that make folks hesitant to move them into wider production. All evidence so far tells us that they're safe and smart, but researchers never stop trying to find out more. It's our responsibility as citizens to learn as much as we can, and express our opinions supported by fact. As far as the environment goes, most GMO foods require fewer pesticides and have a minimal effect on insects that are part of the field ecosystem. So really, GMO foods are environmentally friendly.
Anthro-Therizino (7th grade student)

Information - Moderator Now joining the chat is Morgan Butrick, a graduate student who spends a lot of time seeing genetic counseling patients.


35
What exactly is involved in the study of pharmacogenomics?
     Toni Pollin, M.S., Ph.D.: I have a Master's degree and board certification in genetic counseling and a Ph.D. in human genetics. My research interests include identifying genetic factors in common complex diseases. Pharmacogenomics involves using information about the genome, genes and proteins encoded to develop drugs that will specifically interact with those genes and proteins to impact treatment. The related field of pharmacogenetics involves identifying variation in genotypes among individuals that can help predict both how effective and how harmful a specific drug will be in a specific individual.
Saint Ignatius High School in IL (student)
36
What is the gene makeup of jen and franny?
     Tom Markello, M.D., Ph.D.: I am a principle investigator in a protocol to treat pulmonary fibrosis in patients with Hermansky-Pudlak syndrome, and see other rare genetic disorders studied in NHGRI's Medical Genetics Branch. The medical clinical answer to the (entire) genetic makeup of anybody is actually unknown except for only three people and none are named Jen of Franny. There is a law called GINA and two others HIPPA and the Federal Privacy Act that helps prevent anyone from learning the genetic makeup of others unless it is needed for medical care.
Wantagh High School in NY (10th grade student)

Information - Moderator Now joining us is Nisha Issac, a genetic counselor who is interested in cultural diversity and access of genetic services for all.


38
What's the most recent genome that's been sequenced?
     David Bodine, M.D., Ph.D.: I investigate the genetics of pluripotent hematopoietic stem cells (PHSCs) to improve the effectiveness of bone marrow transplantation and to find better ways to use these unique cells for gene replacement therapy. Cows. The sequence comes out in the journal Science today (see below). The cow genome will allow us to discover the genes that help cows produce more milk or beef. That way we can breed better cows without the wasteful breeding schemes we use where a lot of animals are produced that are not what we want. After we get better cows, we will get more food from fewer animals - better for the animals and the environment. More information can be found at: http://www.genome.gov/27531571.
School of Life in MD ()
39
I've heard that the hydrogen bonds that join base pairs in the DNA molecule are relatively weak. If this is the case, where does the molecule get its stability?
     Phyllis Frosst, Ph.D.: I investigate genetic discrimination, direct-to-consumer marketing of genetic tests and pharmacogenomics. In the same way that a single fiber of velcro is weak, but a square foot of it is almost impossible to pull apart - DNA's strength and stability come from the additive power of billions of bases. That each base pair can be individually pulled apart makes it possible for cellular processes such as DNA replication and base pair repair to easily occur.
Barbara Melville (teacher)
40
is there currently any genetic research going on to cure autism?
     Nisha Isaac, M.S., C.G.C.: Nisha Isaac is a board certified genetic counselor who is especially interested in cultural diversity and facilitating the availability and access of genetic services to all populations. Nisha has broad clinical and research experience that includes prenatal, pediatric, research and cancer genetics. Currently, Nisha is providing cancer genetic services at both St. Agnes Hospital and St. Josephs Cancer Institure in the Baltimore area. Autism is a complex condition that has many different causes. Therefore, it would be difficult to try and come up with just one cure. The treatment of autism includes both medical management with medication and behavioral managment. There is research going on how best to treat autism. There is also research going on to try and better understand the causes of autism.
Wantagh High School in NY (10th grade student)

Information - Moderator We now have Judith Miller. She's a genetic counselor whose main focus is cancer genetics.



Information - Moderator Now joining us is Tom Pollin, a genetic counselor who focuses on common diseases.


43
We are viewing "Cracking the Code of Life" made in 2005. Have there been advances in the use of the technology since then? If so what would be the most significant advancement
     David Bodine, M.D., Ph.D.: I investigate the genetics of pluripotent hematopoietic stem cells (PHSCs) to improve the effectiveness of bone marrow transplantation and to find better ways to use these unique cells for gene replacement therapy. I think the biggest advance since 2005 has been the new technology to sequence DNA. Sequencing that took weeks can now be done in hours. If we had this back in 2000, we would have had the human genome much faster. Now we can sequence hundreds and thousands of genomes in the same amount of time. from this we are learning about variation in DNA sequence. Some of these variants will help us learn to predict diseases like diabetes and heart disease and ultimately treat these disorders.
Creative and Performing Arts High School in PA (10th grade teacher)
44
are you experiencing a reflection in funding due to the downturn of the global economy?
     Phyllis Frosst, Ph.D.: I investigate genetic discrimination, direct-to-consumer marketing of genetic tests and pharmacogenomics. The amount of money that is allocated to the National Institutes of Health is dependent on the budget of the federal government. As the economy slows down, there's a bit of a lag before the decreased amount of income tax that is paid (with most of us having less income) affects the budget bottom line. In fact, the amount of funding available for research has suffered in the past 5-10 years from government expenses such as wars and other areas that are federal priorities.
Wantagh High School in NY (10th grade student)
45
Do you personally see any value in studying genetics and psychology?
     Dale Lea, R.N., M.P.H., C.G.C., F.A.A.N.: I developing genetics, health education and community involvement programs and resources, and translate genetic and genomic information for the public. Yes, I do see great value in studying genetics and psychology. Studying the genetics of psychological conditions can help us to better understand the genes that are involved. These studies can also help to identify genes that are involved in metabolizing medications. Genetic tests can then be used to determine which medications work best for an individual and what specific dose. This will help with more individualized treatment, called personalized medicine.
St. Ignatius in IL (student)
46
Which one is better for RNA virus detection? ELISA or PCR amplification with specific primer?
     David Bodine, M.D., Ph.D.: I investigate the genetics of pluripotent hematopoietic stem cells (PHSCs) to improve the effectiveness of bone marrow transplantation and to find better ways to use these unique cells for gene replacement therapy. As you might guess, it depends. If you use ELISA, you would need to have raised an antibody against some virus protein. For well studies ones this is relatively cheap and easy. however, this does not discover new ones very well. PCR requires that you know something about the sequence. Since virus genomes are under a lot of selection pressure, there are a lot of sequences that are identical in all viruses of a type, so that is relatively easy. Then you can sequence the fragments and discover both the type of virus, but also see if there are any new sequences in there. This is a little bit more expensive, but can be more informative.
SMV Center for Biotechnology, Nagpur (teacher)
47
How does DNA constantly change without messing up just a little bit?
     Tom Markello, M.D., Ph.D.: I am a principle investigator in a protocol to treat pulmonary fibrosis in patients with Hermansky-Pudlak syndrome, and see other rare genetic disorders studied in NHGRI's Medical Genetics Branch. We have backup systems when DNA changes. One easy one to explain is that we have two copies of most genes. A lot of the time when we have one "good" copy, the fact that the other one changed a little won't cause a big problem. A second reason is that when DNA changes and does mess up, that changes how sucessfullyl we can pass that change on to offspring - this is actually the basis for the biological process we call evolution.
Shikellamy High School in PA (9th grade )
48
if people would develope a disease. Could there be a change in their DNA that could be able to cure that disease?
     Nisha Isaac, M.S., C.G.C.: Nisha Isaac is a board certified genetic counselor who is especially interested in cultural diversity and facilitating the availability and access of genetic services to all populations. Nisha has broad clinical and research experience that includes prenatal, pediatric, research and cancer genetics. Currently, Nisha is providing cancer genetic services at both St. Agnes Hospital and St. Josephs Cancer Institure in the Baltimore area. This depends on the cause of the disease. If the disease is caused by just one change in a person's DNA it is possible to cure the person with a targeted therapy. Many diseases, however, are more complex and are caused by a combination of genetic and enviromental factors. Therefore, they are not easily cured.
Shikellamy High School in PA (9th grade student)
49
hi hows it going
     Phyllis Frosst, Ph.D.: I investigate genetic discrimination, direct-to-consumer marketing of genetic tests and pharmacogenomics. Howdy! My job for this hour is to answer questions from people who are interested in DNA - one of my favorite subjects (well, that and what's happening on the show Lost) so things are going great. We have donuts, coffee, juice and a great group of people answering questions and making sure the chatroom runs like a well oiled machine. We're getting lots of questions so I've got to run!
Shikellamy High School in PA (9th grade student)
50
Are there ways to find out what someone will look like when they grow up?
     Morgan Butrick, B.A., Sc.M.: I am training to be a genetic counselor. My time is spent seeing genetic counseling patients in clinic, doing social and behavioral research, and attending classes related to genetics, ethics, policy, research, and public health. Interesting question. While genetics certainly plays a role in many of our physical characteristics (hair color, face shape, height, etc), we don't know very much about how genetics shapes the way our looks change with time. At this point, the best way to try to figure out what someone will look like when they grow up is to look at their relatives, and then wait to find out.
Shikellamy High School in PA (9th grade student)
51
My classes just finished a mtDNA lab. Some students had excellent results. BUT some had nothing, including the molecular weight marker. I am beginning to suspect that our 15 year old equipment may be wearing out. Is that a reasonable possibility?
     David Bodine, M.D., Ph.D.: I investigate the genetics of pluripotent hematopoietic stem cells (PHSCs) to improve the effectiveness of bone marrow transplantation and to find better ways to use these unique cells for gene replacement therapy. When some kids in our lab have something working and others not, sometimes it is equipment, but in your case, I suspect that the answer might be technical. If the molecular weight marker does not show up, it might be that they made the gel with water instead of running buffer. However, if the DNA stays in the wells, it could be that the gel box is broken. I guess what you should do is keep track of the apparatus and the results to see if one is constantly failing.
Francis Howell North High School in MO (teacher)
52
How are molecular techniques helpful in detection of antibiotic resistant genes?
     Tom Markello, M.D., Ph.D.: I am a principle investigator in a protocol to treat pulmonary fibrosis in patients with Hermansky-Pudlak syndrome, and see other rare genetic disorders studied in NHGRI's Medical Genetics Branch. There are not actually antibiotic resistant genes per se, there are antibiotic resistant organisms. If they can cause disease then they are antibiotic resistant pathogens. Antibiotic resistant genes in pathogens can be isolated from patients who did not respond to normal treatments, then the mechanism of resistance can be deduced from the DNA sequence by comparison to the known sequence and if different, then this information can bed used in a helpful way
SMV Center for Biotechnology, Nagpur (teacher)
53
is there a way to tell if someones baby is going to have a disease before it is developed
     Nisha Isaac, M.S., C.G.C.: Nisha Isaac is a board certified genetic counselor who is especially interested in cultural diversity and facilitating the availability and access of genetic services to all populations. Nisha has broad clinical and research experience that includes prenatal, pediatric, research and cancer genetics. Currently, Nisha is providing cancer genetic services at both St. Agnes Hospital and St. Josephs Cancer Institure in the Baltimore area. Yes, it is possible to do testing (prenatal testing) during pregnancy to determine if a baby is going to have certain diseases. Two of the common conditions that we offer prenatal testing for includes cystic fibrosis and sickle cell anemia.
Shikellamy High School in PA (9th grade student)

Information - Moderator Here we have Dr. Pam Schwartzberg. She studies the ability of the immune system to fight infections.


55
how do cells make proteins using the message in DNA?
     Phyllis Frosst, Ph.D.: I investigate genetic discrimination, direct-to-consumer marketing of genetic tests and pharmacogenomics. DNA is transcribed into an RNA message (another large nucleic acid chain) in the cell's nucleus. This message is then translated into protein by ribosomes, cellular machines that work in the cytoplasm of the cell. Fascinatingly, the molecular machines that make all of these processes happen are mostly made of protein!
Shikellamy High School in PA (9th grade student)
56
Because the use of viruses is known to cause harmful side effects, have scientists involved in gene therapy proposed any alternative methods for inserting genes into cells?
     David Bodine, M.D., Ph.D.: I investigate the genetics of pluripotent hematopoietic stem cells (PHSCs) to improve the effectiveness of bone marrow transplantation and to find better ways to use these unique cells for gene replacement therapy. One of the things that is being done is to remove the sequences that cause the problems. This can be done while preserving the parts of the virus that carry the gene where we want it to go. There has been a lot of progress in the last two years in this area and the version 2.0 viruses are much safer.
St. Ignatius in IL (student)
57
Is there ways to prevent a child from inheriting a gentic disorder that a parent has?
     Tom Markello, M.D., Ph.D.: I am a principle investigator in a protocol to treat pulmonary fibrosis in patients with Hermansky-Pudlak syndrome, and see other rare genetic disorders studied in NHGRI's Medical Genetics Branch. The Daily Show answer is: choose a different parent. The real answer is no. One of the basic principles of genetics is that genes are inherited randomly. That means we cannot choose either our parents nor can we choose which of the two copies of (most) genes that a parent will give to any one child.
Shikellamy High School in PA (9th grade student)
58
There are identical twins in my class. What can be the easiest way to tell them apart?
     Judith Miller, M.S.: I am currently retired after working for 12 years as a genetic counselor. I provided general genetic counseling for 8 years, and then established a cancer genetics program. Although the genes of identical twins are all the same, usually there will be small differences between the pair, such as a mole. In a few cases physical differences may be apparent due to a difference in the intrauterine environment.
Shikellamy High School in PA (9th grade student)
59
What are the ethical issues I have to consider in studying genetics in children?
     Dale Lea, R.N., M.P.H., C.G.C., F.A.A.N.: I developing genetics, health education and community involvement programs and resources, and translate genetic and genomic information for the public. The ethical issues you have to consider in studying genetics in children depend on the particular focus of your research. For example, if you are studying the genetics of metabolic diseases in children and treatment based on a child's genetic make-up, you would need to get parental permission to enroll the children in your study. You would also need to consider the safety of a research intervention.
SMV Center for Biotechnology, Nagpur (teacher)
60
What is human variome project? How is it related to Human Genome Project?
     Phyllis Frosst, Ph.D.: I investigate genetic discrimination, direct-to-consumer marketing of genetic tests and pharmacogenomics. The Human Variome Project is a global initiative to collect and curate all human genetic variation affecting human health. In a sense, the Human Genome Project showed the ways in which we're all the same, and the variome project is teaching us the ways in which we're each unique, and what that may mean for our health.
SMV Center for Biotechnology, Nagpur (student)
61
Do gene therapies have any applications in infectious diseases?
     Tom Markello, M.D., Ph.D.: I am a principle investigator in a protocol to treat pulmonary fibrosis in patients with Hermansky-Pudlak syndrome, and see other rare genetic disorders studied in NHGRI's Medical Genetics Branch. Theoretically yes. There have been over 9 case where gene therapy has lead to successful treatment of rare immunodeficiency conditions like Adenosine Deaminase deficiency, but that is not the infectious disease, it is a condition that places the person at risk for not being able to defend against an infectious disease. That is pretty close to your question.
SMV Center for Biotechnology, Nagpur (teacher)
62
What is your favorite type of donut?
     Phyllis Frosst, Ph.D.: I investigate genetic discrimination, direct-to-consumer marketing of genetic tests and pharmacogenomics. It's a tie between an unglazed crispy creme fresh from the store, and a Tim Hortons chocolate frosted classic donut.
Shikellamy High School in PA (10th grade student)
63
If a person develops cancer,is it from there DNA or is just a genetic thing??
     Nisha Isaac, M.S., C.G.C.: Nisha Isaac is a board certified genetic counselor who is especially interested in cultural diversity and facilitating the availability and access of genetic services to all populations. Nisha has broad clinical and research experience that includes prenatal, pediatric, research and cancer genetics. Currently, Nisha is providing cancer genetic services at both St. Agnes Hospital and St. Josephs Cancer Institure in the Baltimore area. Most cancers are caused by age related changes, environmental factors or a complex interaction between genetic and environmental factors. A small percentage (5-10%) of certain cancers (e.g. breast cancer, ovarian cancer and colon cancer) are caused by changes in DNA (also referred to as gene mutations). We have to look at a person's medical and family history to try and determine the likely causes of a particular cancer.
Shikellamy High School in PA (9th grade student)
64
I've just read that the cow genome has been completely mapped out. Was it a surprise to see that their total number of genes averaged only about 2,000 or so less than humans?
     David Bodine, M.D., Ph.D.: I investigate the genetics of pluripotent hematopoietic stem cells (PHSCs) to improve the effectiveness of bone marrow transplantation and to find better ways to use these unique cells for gene replacement therapy. That was no surprise. In fact, I think that as the cow genome is more worked out, we'll find a few more. When the first human sequence came out we were expecting a MUCH larger number of genes. Some of this was because there are a lot of proteins, but now we know that one gene can code for many proteins. The other reason was arrogance, if yeast and worms have 3-5000 genes, and flies have 14,000, the humans had to have many more. However, this is not correct. It is not haw many genes you have, it is how they work together that make a cow a cow and a human a human.
American History HS in NJ (teacher)
65
Do American geneticists consider the advantages/dangers of genetic databases developed in Iceland and various Eastern European nations? Would such a database be a good idea for the United States?
     Morgan Butrick, B.A., Sc.M.: I am training to be a genetic counselor. My time is spent seeing genetic counseling patients in clinic, doing social and behavioral research, and attending classes related to genetics, ethics, policy, research, and public health. The United States has lagged behind many other countries in establishing a large database that would make it possible for scientists to study how genes interact with the environment and contribute to disease. But scientists here have begun to talk about the possibility of doing this soon. The problem is that in order for such a database to be useful, it would have to include information from many hundreds of thousands of people, which means it would be very expensive to set up and to maintain over time. However, having such a database would make it much easier for scientists to figure out the cause of many common, complex diseases, which are hard to unravel in smaller studies.
St. Ignatius in IL (student)
66
Is it possible for a single organism to contain the DNA and RNA of many other animals?
     Pam Schwartzberg, M.D., Ph.D.: I 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 ways that an organism can carry DNA and RNA from another. Perhaps the best appreciated are the genomes of viruses that can be introduced into cells of another organism (and sometimes make us sick). However, a very exciting new area is the recognition that we harbor absolutely tons of bacteria in our guts and on our skin. These bacteria and other organisms (fungi, for example) influence many aspects of our biology, from how our immune systems work to how much we weigh. So we all carry many other genomes from these bacteria.
Shikellamy High School in PA (11th grade student)
67
Human cloning is illegal, but is organ cloning legal?
     David Bodine, M.D., Ph.D.: I investigate the genetics of pluripotent hematopoietic stem cells (PHSCs) to improve the effectiveness of bone marrow transplantation and to find better ways to use these unique cells for gene replacement therapy. Organ cloning is being investigated, but it really is not ready for any testing. It is hard to reproduce the 3D environment in a body. Transplantation of organs is commonly used. These are not grown from scratch, but they work pretty well.
Anthro-Therizino (7th grade student)
68
i am a student in the high school with asburgers, the highest form of autism. will that DNA be passed on to my children?
     Nisha Isaac, M.S., C.G.C.: Nisha Isaac is a board certified genetic counselor who is especially interested in cultural diversity and facilitating the availability and access of genetic services to all populations. Nisha has broad clinical and research experience that includes prenatal, pediatric, research and cancer genetics. Currently, Nisha is providing cancer genetic services at both St. Agnes Hospital and St. Josephs Cancer Institure in the Baltimore area. We do not yet have a good understanding of Asperger disorder. We think that it is caused by a combination of genetic and enviromental factors. If this is the case, there is probably a small likelihood (3-5%) of having a child with the same condition.
Shikellamy High School in PA (11th grade student)
69
Our classroom houses the Human Genome Landmarks poster which contains a picture of each chromosome with selected genes, traits and disorders - there are a ton of them! We're wondering how many were not included?
     Donna Krasnewich, M.D., Ph.D.: I investigate diseases resulting from abnormal metabolism of carbohydrates. This is a great question. As you can tell from your poster there are 23 pairs of chromosomes that carry the DNA of the human genome, 46 chromosomes total. The current thought is that there are about 20,000 genes in the human genome. We know what some of them do, others we don't. There is a wonderful data base on line, called the Online Mendelian Inheritance in Man, or OMIM, that details what we know about the genes. Check out this website for facts about the genome and disease http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/Omim/mimstats.html. This database tells us that there are over 12,000 genes with known sequence. 373 genes with a phenotype, or known clinical feature or disease associated with it. There are probably hundreds more where there is not quite enough data to fit into this category. In OMIM there are then listed diseases expected to have a genetic basis but scientists have not figure out which gene. There is plenty of work to do!
American History HS in NJ (teacher)
70
Why don't schools give us donuts like you guys get?
     Phyllis Frosst, Ph.D.: I investigate genetic discrimination, direct-to-consumer marketing of genetic tests and pharmacogenomics. LAST DONUT QUESTION. Seriously. Donuts are bought for us by us - volunteers who bring them in. If you bring in donuts to your class - then you'll have some too.
Shikellamy High School in PA (9th grade student)
71
What is personalized medicine? How do genomic studies help in this?
     Tom Markello, M.D., Ph.D.: I am a principle investigator in a protocol to treat pulmonary fibrosis in patients with Hermansky-Pudlak syndrome, and see other rare genetic disorders studied in NHGRI's Medical Genetics Branch. You should look forward to Francis Collins upcomming book as much as I am. That is the subject of this book in progress. The idea of personalized medicine is the opposite of traditional epidemiology, that averages effects over a very large number of individuals. For example, smoking tobacco is very bad for the average person's lungs. If you can know a little bit about some individuals genome, for example if you have an allele with a change in alpha one antitrypsin, you can have a really really bad day if you choose to smoke. Knowing that might help you to make better lifestyle choices.
SMV Center for Biotechnology, Nagpur (teacher)
72
What is it like studying DNA?
     Pam Schwartzberg, M.D., Ph.D.: I 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. Exciting and alot of fun. Working as a scientist is wonderful--we are continually learning and exploring at the frontiers of knowledge. What can be better than that?
Shikellamy High School in PA (9th grade student)
73
Dr. Watson and Craig Veneer are two people that have their dna sequence, who was the third?
     Phyllis Frosst, Ph.D.: I investigate genetic discrimination, direct-to-consumer marketing of genetic tests and pharmacogenomics. Chinese scientist Yang Huanming became the first Asian last month to have his genome sequenced. Kim Seong-jin, a cancer specialist from Gachon University of Medicine and Science, just became the fourth.
Wantagh High School in NY (10th grade student)
74
What is a 'tailored' drug?
     Dale Lea, R.N., M.P.H., C.G.C., F.A.A.N.: I developing genetics, health education and community involvement programs and resources, and translate genetic and genomic information for the public. A "tailored drug" is a medication that is prescribed to a person based on their genetic make-up. Tailored drugs are increasingly being used for diseases such as cancer. It is now possible to test a person's cancer tumor to determine what medication will work best. It is also possible to do a genetic test to determine what dose will work best. This is called personalized medicine.
Samar (Higher Education )
75
What is epigenetics?
     Pam Schwartzberg, M.D., Ph.D.: I 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. Epigenetics is the study of things that affect gene expression by affecting how DNA is transcribed. One of the big areas in epigenetics is the study of chromatin--the proteins that help package DNA into chromosomes--and how modifications of these proteins affect global patterns of gene expression.
SMV Center for Biotechnology, Nagpur (student)
76
Is it common for twins to have a mole in the same place or similar fingerprints?
     Tom Markello, M.D., Ph.D.: I am a principle investigator in a protocol to treat pulmonary fibrosis in patients with Hermansky-Pudlak syndrome, and see other rare genetic disorders studied in NHGRI's Medical Genetics Branch. similar fingerprints yes. Moles not as much. Some parts of the human development are under tight control, but others are influenced by environment much more. After all, even identical twins are lying sideways to each other in a mothers uterous, so one can be sitting on the other's placenta and they won't be growing the same even before birth.
Shikellamy High School in PA (9th grade student)
77
Can DNA identify a person's sexuality? If so, how. If not, why not?
     Dale Lea, R.N., M.P.H., C.G.C., F.A.A.N.: I developing genetics, health education and community involvement programs and resources, and translate genetic and genomic information for the public. There are research questions being asked in this area but as of this time there is no conclusive link.
Bronx Academy of Health Careers in NY (9th grade student)
78
Among the Indian population, beta thalassamia is common in certain communities. Can you suggest certain measures to solve it?
     David Bodine, M.D., Ph.D.: I investigate the genetics of pluripotent hematopoietic stem cells (PHSCs) to improve the effectiveness of bone marrow transplantation and to find better ways to use these unique cells for gene replacement therapy. Beta thal can be very serious and what a community should do is give blood tests to everybody who wants one. This should be able to identify the people with beta thal. Once identified, it is important to see a physician, who can help the patient with the complications of the disease, which are mainly anemia and iron overload. Also genetic counseling can help them understand how they got beta thal, and what they can do to make sure that when the have kids, they know what the odds are and how to deal with the disease.
B.B.S.P.Nag SMVCBT, Nagpur, INDIA (teacher)
79
Can we dream of a day when every newborn child is free of genetic diseases?
     Dale Lea, R.N., M.P.H., C.G.C., F.A.A.N.: I developing genetics, health education and community involvement programs and resources, and translate genetic and genomic information for the public. The reason we at the genome institute do the work that we do is to improve health as best we can. The hope for the future is that there will be better means of prevention and treatment of infant, childhood and adult diseases.
B.B.S.P.Nag SMVCBT, Nagpur, INDIA (teacher)
80
What are the implications of the easing of restrictions on stem cell research propelled by the Obama administration on genetic research?
     Phyllis Frosst, Ph.D.: I investigate genetic discrimination, direct-to-consumer marketing of genetic tests and pharmacogenomics. I'd encourage you to look at the NIH stem cell information page for some thoughtful and detailed answers to your question. http://stemcells.nih.gov/ In my opinion, easing restrictions on stem cell research offers researchers more tools in our ongoing efforts to help ease the suffering of those of us who suffer from diseases such as Parkinson's, diabetes, Alzheimer's and a myriad of others.
St. Ignatius in IL (student)
81
We are know that rare genetic disorders comes rarely. But what are the kinds of those?
     Toni Pollin, M.S., Ph.D.: I have a Master's degree and board certification in genetic counseling and a Ph.D. in human genetics. My research interests include identifying genetic factors in common complex diseases. There are thousands of rare genetic disorders. Note that "rare" is a relative term. For example, cystic fibrosis occurs in about 1/2,500 individuals and is rare compared to diabetes (1/12 Americans) but common compared to numerous other genetic disorders such as pseudoxanthoma elasticum (PXE), occurring in about 1/70,000 to 1/100,000 individuals. See the National Organization for Rare Disorders (NORD) website at http://www.rarediseases.org/ for more information about rare diseases, including rare genetic disorders.
Anthro-Therizino (7th grade student)
82
Is there any genetic basis for thyroid problems?
     Tom Markello, M.D., Ph.D.: I am a principle investigator in a protocol to treat pulmonary fibrosis in patients with Hermansky-Pudlak syndrome, and see other rare genetic disorders studied in NHGRI's Medical Genetics Branch. yes. one in 3000 babies born have a birth defect where they do not make thyroid hormone and will be mentally damaged before someone notices. To prevent this condition (known as cretinism), all babies are tested at birth and those found to have this genetic problem are started on thryoid soon after birth, and now grow normally and will be paying my social security when I retire.
B.B.S.P.Nag SMVCBT, Nagpur, INDIA (teacher)
83
Wantagh High School in NY (10th grade student)
84
We know that HIV always mutates. Is it possible to map its genome, if its mutation rate is very high? (Up to 5 wrong nucleotides maybe integrated per genome copied.)
     David Bodine, M.D., Ph.D.: I investigate the genetics of pluripotent hematopoietic stem cells (PHSCs) to improve the effectiveness of bone marrow transplantation and to find better ways to use these unique cells for gene replacement therapy. Yes, the HIV genome is relatively easy to sequence. There are parts of the genome that can't be mutated, so you can start sequencing in those regions and go into the regions where there are mutations. HIV genomes are constantly being sequenced. It would be great to discover some mutations that attenuate or weaken the virus, so it could be the basis for a vaccine.
Anthro-Therizino (7th grade student)
85
New technology makes it posible to choose what your children will look like. How is this posible when there are so many changes in DNA?
     Morgan Butrick, B.A., Sc.M.: I am training to be a genetic counselor. My time is spent seeing genetic counseling patients in clinic, doing social and behavioral research, and attending classes related to genetics, ethics, policy, research, and public health. In fact, the technology does not actually exist to choose the physical characteristics of our children and your question hits upon one aspect of the reason why. As you stated, the human genome is very complex, and physical characteristics are controlled by multiple genes. This makes determining the looks of our kids a very complicated pursuit. Also, at this point, most of our resources are used to identify disease genes, rather than non-disease traits, like how we look.
Shikellamy High School in PA (9th grade student)
86
Do you think we will ever find a cure for cancer using genomic and genetic information?
     Tom Markello, M.D., Ph.D.: I am a principle investigator in a protocol to treat pulmonary fibrosis in patients with Hermansky-Pudlak syndrome, and see other rare genetic disorders studied in NHGRI's Medical Genetics Branch. yes. If the history of medicine is any indication, hard work and long hours have yeilded solutions to problems that affect the human condition. A famous pathologist Virchow was said to often remark that politics is the endeavor to improve the human condition and medicine is just politics on a larger scale.
Brownsville Area High School in PA (11th grade student)
87
How can we prevent familial diabetes?
     Donna Krasnewich, M.D., Ph.D.: I investigate diseases resulting from abnormal metabolism of carbohydrates. I wish there was a good answer for this. Familial diabetes is what is called a complex genetic disorder. This means that likely the effects of a group of genes that are not quite working correctly lead to familial diabetes, or problems with controlling the level of glucose/sugar in our blood. There are several studies ongoing exploring which group of genes are associated with diabetes. Right now there are also very strong clinical research projects looking for the best way to manage the medical issues of people with diabetes. Prevention at this point is difficult, understanding the genes involved and good management will pave the way for this ultimate goal of prevention.
B.B.S.P.Nag SMVCBT, Nagpur, INDIA (teacher)
88
Is there any genetic basis of the expression of virulence factor in our body?
     Pam Schwartzberg, M.D., Ph.D.: I 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. Do you mean a specific virulence factor? There are many different virulence factors and there are certainly many genes in the body that affect how we respond to infections. For example, for HIV, some individuals have alterations in the gene encoding one of the receptors for the virus, CCR5 and are resistant to the virus. That is a genetic change that affects the ability of the virus to infect us. But it turns out there are many host factors (ie proteins encoded by human genes) that can affect HIV viral infectivity (APOBEC3, TRIMS) and they can be considered things that affect virulence.
B.B.S.P.Nag SMVCBT, Nagpur, INDIA (teacher)
89
What happens if an oxygen molecule makes its way onto the deoxyribose sugar on DNA? Will the DNA be affected?
     David Bodine, M.D., Ph.D.: I investigate the genetics of pluripotent hematopoietic stem cells (PHSCs) to improve the effectiveness of bone marrow transplantation and to find better ways to use these unique cells for gene replacement therapy. If you have an oxygen on a base, it can't be incorporated into DNA by DNA polymerase. DNA polymerase is VERY specific and will absolutely NOT use ribonucleotides. If there was some modification of the base in the DNA molecule (and I have never heard of this) the DNA repair machinery in the cells would probably detect and correct it.
Bronx Academy of Health Careers in NY (9th grade student)
90
what is read during an amniocentesis?
     Toni Pollin, M.S., Ph.D.: I have a Master's degree and board certification in genetic counseling and a Ph.D. in human genetics. My research interests include identifying genetic factors in common complex diseases. An amiocentesis involves taking a small sample of the fluid surrounding the baby inside the mother's womb. In that fluid are skin cells which have sloughed off the baby's skin, much the way that skin cells are shed when you take a bath or shower. Those cells contain DNA that can then be tested for the presence of chromosomal conditions such as Down syndrome. The DNA also be tested for genetic variants involved in other specific genetic conditions that run in the family.
Shikellamy High School in PA (9th grade student)
91
As we have several genome projects, is there any specific human psychology based genome project?
     Phyllis Frosst, Ph.D.: I investigate genetic discrimination, direct-to-consumer marketing of genetic tests and pharmacogenomics. In fact, there was really a single Human Genome project, the one that was completed in 2003. Ongoing genomic research today look more at genomic variation - what's in our genomes that makes us each unique. Genome Wide Association studies look at groups of individuals with specific characteristics, for example those who have a particular disease, to try to understand what in their genome is the cause. Many of these studies are ongoing (or have been completed) for diseases of mental health - a catalogue of all that have been published can be found here: http://www.genome.gov/26525384
B.B.S.P.Nag SMVCBT, Nagpur, INDIA (teacher)
92
Is there a cure for people who have an autistic disability?
     Tom Markello, M.D., Ph.D.: I am a principle investigator in a protocol to treat pulmonary fibrosis in patients with Hermansky-Pudlak syndrome, and see other rare genetic disorders studied in NHGRI's Medical Genetics Branch. not yet. there are a small number of genetic metabolic disorders that can have autistic like behaviors and are improved when therapy is given. There are so many different genetic changes that seem to result in individuals with autistic diagnoses that it will take many cures to address this kind of disability. I recommend Temple Grandin's book on this subject.
Shikellamy High School in PA (9th grade student)
93
Is it possible to genetically alter a dna sequence in such a way to alter the appearance of an organism?
     Pam Schwartzberg, M.D., Ph.D.: I 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. Certainly, there are genes that affect appearance of organism (hair color, size, many other features). We can do this in model organisms (bacteria, yeast, flies and even mice) by introduction of pieces of DNA and selecting for DNA recombination. In humans, the area of gene therapy hopes to use viral vectors and other tools to introduce new genes that can fix genetic disorders.
Shikellamy High School in PA (11th grade student)
94
I think I have AIDs. What should I do?
     Donna Krasnewich, M.D., Ph.D.: I investigate diseases resulting from abnormal metabolism of carbohydrates. Thank you for having the courage to ask this question. The next step that you must take is to tell someone who can help you find medical care. Perhaps you can tell your parents, your pediatrician, your school counsellor or an adult relative or friend. There have been many advances in the medical care of people who have contracted HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, the sooner you get medical help the better you will feel. Take care of yourself that is very, very important.
Uniontown High School in PA (11th grade student)
95
Do epigenetic changes occur on a relatively regular basis?
     David Bodine, M.D., Ph.D.: I investigate the genetics of pluripotent hematopoietic stem cells (PHSCs) to improve the effectiveness of bone marrow transplantation and to find better ways to use these unique cells for gene replacement therapy. Great question! They sure do. In fact I think that epigenetic changes are as important as the DNA sequence for determining when and in what cells a gene will make RNA. We already know that differentiation (maturation) of cells is the result of changes in the RNAs made and the epigenetic modifications of DNA.
St. Ignatius in IL (student)
96
Do all cells have the same DNA?
     Phyllis Frosst, Ph.D.: I investigate genetic discrimination, direct-to-consumer marketing of genetic tests and pharmacogenomics. In terms of sequence, effectively every cell in your body has the same DNA. Scientists are beginning to learn about very subtle modifications of DNA that create subtle differences in the structure of DNA molecules in cells. This field is called epigenomics.
Bronx Academy of Health Careers in NY (9th grade student)
97
Is the ability to sing and act genetic?
     Dale Lea, R.N., M.P.H., C.G.C., F.A.A.N.: I developing genetics, health education and community involvement programs and resources, and translate genetic and genomic information for the public. You can look at Hollywood and see families like Martin and Charlie Sheen, Jon Voight and Angelina Jolie, or the Jackson family and see that singing and acting talents run in families. We do no currently know what the genetic component of these talents are, but they fun to watch. Let me ask you, if this were something you could test for would you want it?
Creative and Performing Arts High School in PA (9th grade student)
98
Do you think it's easier to identify Tay Sacs diease now that it is easier to read the Genetic code? SKU
     Tom Markello, M.D., Ph.D.: I am a principle investigator in a protocol to treat pulmonary fibrosis in patients with Hermansky-Pudlak syndrome, and see other rare genetic disorders studied in NHGRI's Medical Genetics Branch. A little easier. But it is not completely possible to tell just from the genetic code whether a gene is not functioning or is OK. Basic medical testing of the gene product is still needed for 100% certainty.
Creative and Performing Arts High School in PA (9th grade student)
99
How can scientists manipulate embryonic DNA? Won't taking the DNA out of even one cell's nucleus affect the embryo since there are only a small number of cells at that point?
     Nisha Isaac, M.S., C.G.C.: Nisha Isaac is a board certified genetic counselor who is especially interested in cultural diversity and facilitating the availability and access of genetic services to all populations. Nisha has broad clinical and research experience that includes prenatal, pediatric, research and cancer genetics. Currently, Nisha is providing cancer genetic services at both St. Agnes Hospital and St. Josephs Cancer Institure in the Baltimore area. At a really early embryonic stage, DNA can be removed without any damage to the embryo. The cell is replaced with a new cell through the cellular developmental process. This is analogous to adults donating blood. We replace the red blood cells that are removed.
Bronx Academy of Health Careers in NY (9th grade teacher)
100
Can genetics help us cure cancer?
     Judith Miller, M.S.: I am currently retired after working for 12 years as a genetic counselor. I provided general genetic counseling for 8 years, and then established a cancer genetics program. It depends upon what you mean by "cure." The short answer is that genetics does and will continue to play a big role in treating cancer. Understanding the genetic changes in a tumor or cancer can lead to specific treatment for that cancer. In addition, knowing the genetic differences in a cancer has led to methods to prevent cancer. One example is that a drug called tamoxifen reduces the risk for breast cancer in women at high risk for the disease.
Bronx Academy of Health Careers in NY (9th grade student)
101
Do human chromosomes (all 46) carry different genetic material or the same genetic material?
     David Bodine, M.D., Ph.D.: I investigate the genetics of pluripotent hematopoietic stem cells (PHSCs) to improve the effectiveness of bone marrow transplantation and to find better ways to use these unique cells for gene replacement therapy. They all have their own set of genes. You need all 46 chromosomes, any fewer and a person cannot live.
Bronx Academy of Health Careers in NY (9th grade student)
102
Can you add more or extra chromosomes to an organism?
     Pam Schwartzberg, M.D., Ph.D.: I 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. Extra copies of chromosomes get added all the time in nature during meiosis, usually with deleterious consequences such as in human trisomy conditions. People have successfully incorporated a trisomy in mice to model Down's syndrome, but this was quite difficult.
Bronx Academy of Health Careers in NY (9th grade student)
103
I've read some resources that say depression is probably genetic, and others that say it is likely to be caused by environmental factors. What're your views?
     Dale Lea, R.N., M.P.H., C.G.C., F.A.A.N.: I developing genetics, health education and community involvement programs and resources, and translate genetic and genomic information for the public. My view, based on current research, is that depression and other psychological disorders have a genetic component, but they are also influenced by environmental factors.
Barbara Melville (teacher)
104
When you are studying genetic traits, is there ever a clear indication of differences expected in those traits determined by nature in contrast to those by nurture?
     Morgan Butrick, B.A., Sc.M.: I am training to be a genetic counselor. My time is spent seeing genetic counseling patients in clinic, doing social and behavioral research, and attending classes related to genetics, ethics, policy, research, and public health. Although there are a few exceptions (e.g., blood type, eye color) that are determined exclusively by genes, almost all human traits are influenced by a combination of genetic and environmental factors. The same is true of most human diseases; there are a few (e.g., cystic fibrosis, Huntington disease) that are Mendelian disorders caused by a single gene, but most common diseases like heart disease, diabetes, and cancer are influenced by a combination of genes and environment. Behavioral traits like features of people's personalities and intelligence are always influenced by both genes and environment.
St. Ignatius in IL (student)
105
What is a regular day like working with DNA?
     Pam Schwartzberg, M.D., Ph.D.: I 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. Exciting. In general, we love to do science and to ask new questions using DNA. We work hard but we love it.
Becca Capa High School in PA (10th grade student)
106
Creative and Performing Arts High School in PA (9th grade student)
107
Creative and Performing Arts High School in PA (10th grade student)

Information - Moderator Now joining the chatroom is Dr. Max Muenke, a pediatrician and medical geneticist who studies birth defects.


109
What is personalized medicine? How do genomic studies help with this?
     Phyllis Frosst, Ph.D.: I investigate genetic discrimination, direct-to-consumer marketing of genetic tests and pharmacogenomics. Personalized medicine refers to the practice of medicine that is tailored to to he individual, for example to their unique genome sequence. Most kinds of medicine are based on the average response to the average diagnosis.
SMV Center for Biotechnology, Nagpur (teacher)
110
Why the Beta thal compensation naturally by replacing the missing Beta-Globin with Delta-Globins and Gamma-Globins to form Hemoglobin F and Hemoglobin A2, isn't enough and needs monthly blood transfusion?
     David Bodine, M.D., Ph.D.: I investigate the genetics of pluripotent hematopoietic stem cells (PHSCs) to improve the effectiveness of bone marrow transplantation and to find better ways to use these unique cells for gene replacement therapy. We'd love to know. Some researchers are looking for drugs that would turn on those genes, which are perfectly good globin genes, but are silent in adult blood cells. The delta gene has been down regulated during evolution, and we really do not know why, but we suspect the answer is in the sequence. The gamma genes are silenced at birth, and most people think that this is a combination of epigenetic changes that turns them off.
Anthro-Therizino (7th grade student)
111
Can DNA tell you how many children you are going to have and what gender?
     Dale Lea, R.N., M.P.H., C.G.C., F.A.A.N.: I developing genetics, health education and community involvement programs and resources, and translate genetic and genomic information for the public. DNA cannot tell you how many children you are going to have. Genetic testing during pregnancy can tell you whether you are having a boy or a girl. The testing involves looking at the baby's chromosomes to see if they are an X and Y (boy) or two X chromosomes (girl).
Creative and Performing Arts High School in PA (9th grade student)
112
Today's scientists are creating mechanical body parts. How can the body accept these while it has trouble accepting matching blood types?
     Donna Krasnewich, M.D., Ph.D.: I investigate diseases resulting from abnormal metabolism of carbohydrates. The reason that our body has trouble accepting blood types is that we have a natural defense, our immune system, against biologic compounds which are on the surface the red blood cells. This is why people have reactions when given the wrong blood type. We do not naturally react to the metals and plastics used in mechanical body parts so few people have reactions to these things. However, some people do react to plastics, like latex, they have to be careful when in contact with balloons and even bananas which have the same antigen as latex.
Shikellamy High School in PA (9th grade student)
113
What is the human genone?
     Pam Schwartzberg, M.D., Ph.D.: I 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. The human genome is all the DNA in our chromosomes--that is, it is the genetic material that includes all the genes that determines what we are.
Dawson Bryant in OH (10th grade student)
114
Why is DNA sequence put online?
     David Bodine, M.D., Ph.D.: I investigate the genetics of pluripotent hematopoietic stem cells (PHSCs) to improve the effectiveness of bone marrow transplantation and to find better ways to use these unique cells for gene replacement therapy. So everybody can use it. The sequence was paid for with the tax payers money, and it belongs to all scientists and all citizens.
Creative and Performing Arts High School in PA (10th grade student)
115
Is there anyway to prevent someone from having downsyndrome?
     Toni Pollin, M.S., Ph.D.: I have a Master's degree and board certification in genetic counseling and a Ph.D. in human genetics. My research interests include identifying genetic factors in common complex diseases. Once a baby with Down syndrome is conceived, it is not possible to prevent the baby from having Down syndrome. We do know that while a mother of any age can have a baby with Down syndrome, the chance of having a baby with Down syndrome increases as a mother gets older. Finally, many individuals with Down syndrome benefit from early special education, heart surgery, and other interventions that can help them to lead longer, fuller, healthier lives although these do not cure Down syndrome or prevent all of the challenges associated with it.
Shikellamy High School in PA (9th grade student)
116
What do the letters T A G C represent
     Phyllis Frosst, Ph.D.: I investigate genetic discrimination, direct-to-consumer marketing of genetic tests and pharmacogenomics. Thymine, Adenine, Guanine and Cytosine. The Answer is on Google, Child.
Creative and Performing Arts High School in PA (9th grade student)
117
How are you able to determine a disease ahead of time so when a baby is born safe procedures can be made?
     Nisha Isaac, M.S., C.G.C.: Nisha Isaac is a board certified genetic counselor who is especially interested in cultural diversity and facilitating the availability and access of genetic services to all populations. Nisha has broad clinical and research experience that includes prenatal, pediatric, research and cancer genetics. Currently, Nisha is providing cancer genetic services at both St. Agnes Hospital and St. Josephs Cancer Institure in the Baltimore area. There is testing that can be done during pregnancy to determine if a child will have certain conditions or diseases. This is based on a person's ethnic background, family and medical history. If a fetus is found to have a condition (by the testing in the pregnancy) such as sickle cell disease then precautions can be taken at the time of delivery.
Becca Capa High School in PA (10th grade student)
118
when DNA is tested, do specialist pick random people to test?
     Judith Miller, M.S.: I am currently retired after working for 12 years as a genetic counselor. I provided general genetic counseling for 8 years, and then established a cancer genetics program. When the human genome was sequenced, the DNA samples were chosen from random people. Testing DNA typically has the goal of looking for a specific change in the DNA that may be the cause of a specific disorder. To determine the specific change in the DNA that causes the disease, the researchers need to study DNA samples from people with the disease.
Creative and Performing Arts High School in PA (10th grade student)

Information - Moderator Joining us now is Dr. Eric Green. He is the Scientific Director of our labs here in Bethesda.


120
Is there any relation between our genes and the normal microflora/bacteria in our body?
     Donna Krasnewich, M.D., Ph.D.: I investigate diseases resulting from abnormal metabolism of carbohydrates. This is a really forward thinking question. Scientists are currently studying what is called the "microbiome" of our skin and gut, the DNA of all of the organisms in these highly populated areas. The hypothesis is that the "microbiome" of someone with a disease of the skin may be different than the "microbiome" of the skin of someone without the disease. this may help us to understand either some better medication to use or a better strategy for management.
SMV Center for Biotechnology, Nagpur (teacher)
121
How long does it take for the entire human genome to replicate?
     Pam Schwartzberg, M.D., Ph.D.: I 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. You can look at this by looking at how fast DNA replicates in cells (otherwise known as S-phase). In general, a few hours is all it takes, although it generally takes longer for a cell to divide.
Bronx Academy of Health Careers in NY (9th grade student)
122
Does twins have the same dna?
     Toni Pollin, M.S., Ph.D.: I have a Master's degree and board certification in genetic counseling and a Ph.D. in human genetics. My research interests include identifying genetic factors in common complex diseases. Monozygotic twins, also known as identical twins, arise from the splitting of a single fertilized egg and therefore have identical DNA. Dizygotic twins, also known as fraternal twins, have about half of their DNA in common, just like any full biological siblings.
Creative and Performing Arts High School in PA (9th grade student)
123
Do you think you will ever be able to map DNA any faster than it is right now?
     David Bodine, M.D., Ph.D.: I investigate the genetics of pluripotent hematopoietic stem cells (PHSCs) to improve the effectiveness of bone marrow transplantation and to find better ways to use these unique cells for gene replacement therapy. We are just bringing on line new machines and new technologies that allow us to map and sequence 10 times faster than we did just a year or so ago. With these new tools we will be able to 10 times as many experiments and our knowledge will really explode. This is a great time to study genetics and genomics.
Creative and Performing Arts High School in PA (10th grade student)
124
How long do you have to study to start a career in this field?
     Dale Lea, R.N., M.P.H., C.G.C., F.A.A.N.: I developing genetics, health education and community involvement programs and resources, and translate genetic and genomic information for the public. A career as a genetic counselor involves getting a Master's Degree. A Master's Degree in genetic counseling is usually a two year program.
Creative and Performing Arts High School in PA (10th grade student)
125
When the foreign DNA of a donor is introduced into the recepient through blood transfusion or transplants, what is tha fate of this foreign DNA? Does it hinder the genetic testing of recepient?
     Donna Krasnewich, M.D., Ph.D.: I investigate diseases resulting from abnormal metabolism of carbohydrates. The foreign DNA in a blood transfusion gets broken down as the cells from the blood transfusion eventually gets broken down after days in the body doing their job. They likely have no effect. The DNA in a liver transplant however is maintained by the liver cells and unless rejected, do their job, are replicated and function, hopefully, better than the liver with the disease that was replaced.
SMV Center for Biotechnology, Nagpur (teacher)
126
Creative and Performing Arts High School in PA (9th grade student)
127
If millions of years ago, ancestral cells don't have mitochondria, how those cells can get ATP without ATP produced by mitochondria?
     David Bodine, M.D., Ph.D.: I investigate the genetics of pluripotent hematopoietic stem cells (PHSCs) to improve the effectiveness of bone marrow transplantation and to find better ways to use these unique cells for gene replacement therapy. One theory is that single cells entered in something like a symbiotic relationship with bacteria. The bacteria stay in the cells are fed and protected and in return they make ATP very efficiently. Millions of years later, both the cells and the other organism blended into one.
Anthro-Therizino (7th grade student)
128
Since we all came from a small group of humans, if they inbred is that what caused diseases to form?
     Phyllis Frosst, Ph.D.: I investigate genetic discrimination, direct-to-consumer marketing of genetic tests and pharmacogenomics. The way that all DNA based life forms evolved is by a process of mutation - this is built into our DNA replication processes. These mutations that allow us to evolve and adapt to new environments also results in some mutations that can cause disease.
Fabio Bonaventura in PA (10th grade student)
129
Do you think that in the future, technology will be advanced enough to take some DNA and pick your children's traits?
     Dale Lea, R.N., M.P.H., C.G.C., F.A.A.N.: I developing genetics, health education and community involvement programs and resources, and translate genetic and genomic information for the public. Certainly in theory it could be possible, but the next question is whether we should do something like that if it does become possible.
Creative and Performing Arts High School in PA (9th grade student)
130
some days i wake up and my dna hurts.. do i have aids?
     Pam Schwartzberg, M.D., Ph.D.: I 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. Well, we are not certain that you would ever feel your DNA since it is inside of your cells, although there is a really new field recognizing that cell damage (which can release DNA) can trigger an inflammatory response (which would elicit pain). But this would not be specific to AIDS. Having said that, you should know that HIV does incorporate its genome into the host DNA as part of its lifecycle.
Clarksburg High School in MD (10th grade student)
131
Can scientist stop a disease if found in the DNA before the person shows signs of it?
     Max Muenke, M.D.: I am a pediatrician and medical geneticist who is interested in the genetics of birth defects, specifically those that affect the face and the brain. More recently, I have become interested in a better understanding of the genetics of the most common behavioral disorder of childhood, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). In addition to running a research laboratory and working with patients in the NIH Clinical Center, I enjoy teaching and I direct Medical Genetics training at NIH. Yes, scientists and clinicians can do that now. There are many examples in adults and in newborn babies. Here is one example of a birth defect that can be found out before birth through what is call prenatal diagnosis. The name of this disease is called phenylketonuria or PKU for short. If it is not treated at birth, children will not develop properly and will have mental problem. If the disease is found out before birth, because another brother or sister had the disease and prenatal testing was done, the newborn baby can be treated by being fed a different baby formula and the child will develop normally.
Creative and Performing Arts High School in PA (9th grade student)
132
What is science
     David Bodine, M.D., Ph.D.: I investigate the genetics of pluripotent hematopoietic stem cells (PHSCs) to improve the effectiveness of bone marrow transplantation and to find better ways to use these unique cells for gene replacement therapy. Science dates back to ancient times, more that 3000 years BC. It is an organized system of investigation that compares the results of trials that differ in only one variable.
Shikellamy High School in PA (9th grade student)
133
Does the blending of crop species pose threats to their natural variations by removing unique DNA differences?
     Morgan Butrick, B.A., Sc.M.: I am training to be a genetic counselor. My time is spent seeing genetic counseling patients in clinic, doing social and behavioral research, and attending classes related to genetics, ethics, policy, research, and public health. Great question! You clearly understand the evolutionary importance of genetic diversity. For example, if there is a plant virus, but the plant population lacks the genetic diversity to beat the virus, the entire plant population could go extinct. That's the risk in artificially decreasing natural genetic variation. However, traditional plant breeding (breeding the tall plant with the prolific plant) has been practiced since the origins of agriculture, and in generally not a threat to genetic diversity. Artificial genetic modification (happens in a lab) is more controversial.
Scranton Preparatory School in PA (10th grade student)
134
how do you know that the DNA tested is correct?
     Nisha Isaac, M.S., C.G.C.: Nisha Isaac is a board certified genetic counselor who is especially interested in cultural diversity and facilitating the availability and access of genetic services to all populations. Nisha has broad clinical and research experience that includes prenatal, pediatric, research and cancer genetics. Currently, Nisha is providing cancer genetic services at both St. Agnes Hospital and St. Josephs Cancer Institure in the Baltimore area. Each lab has an error rate. If there is any question about an error (in the testing), the test can be repeated. If you're asking if the correct DNA test was done then this depends on what information you are trying to get from the testing. It also depends on the type of test that was ordered and the qualifications of the lab doing the testing.
Creative and Performing Arts High School in PA (9th grade student)
135
What is nanotechnology and how it is related to DNA?
     Eric Green, M.D., Ph.D.: My research areas include: mapping, sequencing, and comparing eukaryotic genomes; using genome sequencing to study the genetic basis of human diseases. Nanotechnology typically refers to tools for performing experiments on a 'incredibly small' scale (i.e., nano scale). More precisely, it is the study of matter on an atomic and molecular scale. How does this relate to DNA? Well, DNA analysis involves studying the DNA molecule, which is 'incredibly small'; actually reading a single DNA molecule requires nanotechnology. The most cutting-edge new methods for sequencing DNA are now being developed, and these are types of nanotechnologies.
B.B.S.P.Nag SMVCBT, Nagpur, INDIA (teacher)
136
How did someone come up with DNA? Courtney Krause
     Pam Schwartzberg, M.D., Ph.D.: I 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. No one came up with DNA. DNA is one of the building blocks of cells and our key genetic material. It has been evolving with nature on our planet for billions of years.
Creative and Performing Arts High School in PA (10th grade student)
137
Is a metagenomic approach to the molecular diagnostics of tuberculosis advisable?
     Donna Krasnewich, M.D., Ph.D.: I investigate diseases resulting from abnormal metabolism of carbohydrates. I thin that the tricky part of metagenomics, or study of microbiomes in this case, is analyzing the data. There is alot of work going on in this field. To look at the sputum/spit from someone with tuberculosis may help us to understand the very complicated bacteria. There is a bit of work to do on the microbiome front but progress is being made.
SMV Center for Biotechnology, Nagpur (teacher)
138
How can you tell if someone has an illness or disease from a strand of DNA?
     Toni Pollin, M.S., Ph.D.: I have a Master's degree and board certification in genetic counseling and a Ph.D. in human genetics. My research interests include identifying genetic factors in common complex diseases. For some diseases, scientists have figured out which changes in the DNA sequence of which gene(s) lead to the disease. These changes (which are like misspellings in a recipe that lead to using the incorrect ingredient) cause the body to make a protein incorrectly or not at all or not enough or in some cases too much. Once we know from research which gene changes cause which disease, we can then test a person for the presence of that gene change to diagnose the disease. However, this is only true in some cases, as many variations in genes only partially predict disease and need to be considered in the context of other genetic and nongenetic factors.
Creative and Performing Arts High School in PA (9th grade student)
139
How accurate is the movie GATTACA?
     Phyllis Frosst, Ph.D.: I investigate genetic discrimination, direct-to-consumer marketing of genetic tests and pharmacogenomics. Well, it certainly does not reflect reality as we know it now. Firstly, our understanding of our own genome is nowhere near complete enough to be able to predict what any individual will be like, particularly because our experience and our environment combine with our DNA to make us who we are. Second, the rules that govern society in GATTACA would have to be created by congress, approved by the president and importantly agreed upon by we the people. I'd like to think that as a society, we would strongly object to laws that were as poorly founded in science as those in the movie.
Creative and Performing Arts High School in PA (9th grade student)
140
Is it possible to have a whole strand of DNA be corrupt?
     Pam Schwartzberg, M.D., Ph.D.: I 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 not certain what you mean by corrupt, but there are cases where humans have an extra chromosome, with deleterious responses. There are also people with diseases that cause increased DNA mutations. People with these DNA repair disorders tend to accumulate many mutations, often leading to predispositions to cancer or premature aging. However, these are very rare diseases.
Shikellamy High School in PA (9th grade student)
141
Will a grandson have diabetes if his dad's dad has diabetes?
     Dale Lea, R.N., M.P.H., C.G.C., F.A.A.N.: I developing genetics, health education and community involvement programs and resources, and translate genetic and genomic information for the public. It is possible. It is important to collect and analyze the grandson's family history on both his mother's and father's side to better determine his risk for developing diabetes.
Shikellamy High School in PA (9th grade student)
142
Does cancer start by failing or malformed growth control hormone?
     Donna Krasnewich, M.D., Ph.D.: I investigate diseases resulting from abnormal metabolism of carbohydrates. A basic problem with cancer cells is that they replicate out of control. Typically when a cell contacts another cell it stops reproducing, this is called contact inhibition. There are many different genes in the cell that control growth, if these are changed they may not control cell growth and cancer may occur. Not all of these genes code for hormones which are biologic compounds with specific actions on specific organs.
Anthro-Therizino (7th grade student)
143
Did we find any cures yet by studying dna
     Judith Miller, M.S.: I am currently retired after working for 12 years as a genetic counselor. I provided general genetic counseling for 8 years, and then established a cancer genetics program. Yes. To discover a disease cure often researchers try and determine the change in a person's DNA that causes the disease. Then by studying the DNA they can figure out the process in the body that doesn't function right and then learn how to stop the process. One example is treatment for a type of leukemia called CML that was developed to specifically target the molecule that doesn't function right.
Creative and Performing Arts High School in PA (9th grade student)
144
What's your opinion on using machines for genetics? Do you think the information is always accurate?
     Eric Green, M.D., Ph.D.: My research areas include: mapping, sequencing, and comparing eukaryotic genomes; using genome sequencing to study the genetic basis of human diseases. Various machines (instruments) play central roles in genetics research and diagnostics. The most obvious of these are DNA sequencing instruments, which are used for sequencing DNA and genomes. The accuracy of these machines can be incredibly high when used with appropriate computational tools for analyzing the data coming from these machines. For example, the Human Genome Project established the sequence of the ~3 billion letters of the human genome. In the end, the accuracy of that sequence was such that there is only one error (wrong letter) every ~100,000 letters.
Creative and Performing Arts High School in PA (9th grade student)
145
how do they get dna out of a human body
     Toni Pollin, M.S., Ph.D.: I have a Master's degree and board certification in genetic counseling and a Ph.D. in human genetics. My research interests include identifying genetic factors in common complex diseases. Nearly all of the cells in our body contain a copy of all of our DNA, including white blood cells and the skin cells lining the inside of our cheek. Thus DNA can be obtained from a human body by drawing a sample of blood or taking a saliva sample, from which DNA can then be isolated and studied.
Creative and Performing Arts High School in PA (9th grade student)
146
How long does it take to read a person's DNA?
     Pam Schwartzberg, M.D., Ph.D.: I 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 sequencing, or the reading of the DNA sequence is continually getting faster and better. The Human Genome project, which first sequenced the entire genome of a human, took several years (even though it was finished ahead of plan and under budget). It is predicted that with new technology coming on line that in the next year, you may be able to do this in less than a day.
markiela in PA (10th grade student)
147
does your dna have anything to do if your ugly or not
     David Bodine, M.D., Ph.D.: I investigate the genetics of pluripotent hematopoietic stem cells (PHSCs) to improve the effectiveness of bone marrow transplantation and to find better ways to use these unique cells for gene replacement therapy. In the case of your little sister/brother - obviously. Seriously, certainly changes in DNA make us look different, and that is really great, because there is nothing except our small mindedness that distinguishes beauty. If you think about it, most chimps look exactly alike to us, but chimps can easily tell each other apart. The same goes for breeds of dogs, fish, birds, etc. And yet, there is a lot of variation in them and they too look different in ways that they can detect.
Selinsgrove in PA (9th grade student)
148
Why do cancer cells become resistant to chemotherapy?
     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. Cancer cells can become resistant to chemotherapy in a number of ways. Some have a DNA change that allows the cell to breakdown the medication before it can perform its action. Others have a DNA change that prevents the medication from acting in the way it normally would.
Scranton Preparatory School in PA (10th grade student)
149
How long do children usually live with Tay-Sachs Disease?
     Dale Lea, R.N., M.P.H., C.G.C., F.A.A.N.: I developing genetics, health education and community involvement programs and resources, and translate genetic and genomic information for the public. Children who have Tay-Sachs disease usually live under 4 years. You can learn more at the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, here at the NIH: www.ninds.nih.gov/disorders/taysachs/taysachs.htm
Creative and Performing Arts High School in PA (9th grade student)
150
If cancers are caused by mutations which accumulate with time, do the same five or six mutations occur at the same loci on DNA?
     Eric Green, M.D., Ph.D.: My research areas include: mapping, sequencing, and comparing eukaryotic genomes; using genome sequencing to study the genetic basis of human diseases. Excellent question-- complicated answer. First, some types of cancers are associated with the same mutations (or at least mutations in the same genes/loci). Second, some of the key mutations in cancer 'break' the systems in place to prevent mutations from occurring; once this happens, mutations start occurring all over the genome (and not in specific places). So, mutations in cancer really fall into two categories-- those that cause the disease and those that are the consequence of the disease.
Scranton Preparatory School in PA (10th grade student)
151
what is your ideal use of DNA technology? superhuman, eradicate disease, etc.
     Morgan Butrick, B.A., Sc.M.: I am training to be a genetic counselor. My time is spent seeing genetic counseling patients in clinic, doing social and behavioral research, and attending classes related to genetics, ethics, policy, research, and public health. Treating human disease is definitely a priority. As seen in many TV show/movies/science fiction novels with fictional superhumans, a multiplicity of moral problems arise with the creation of superhumans. However - there are endless superanimal/cyborg creatures for which we can imagine benefit. While unrealistic, I'd love to see 3 story tall crabs that shoot lasers out of their eyes. Maybe the military would be interested...
Wantagh High School in NY (10th grade student)

Information - Moderator Joining us now is Dr. Clesson Turner, who sees patients with genetic disorder/syndroms.


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Do all cells have the same DNA?
     Judith Miller, M.S.: I am currently retired after working for 12 years as a genetic counselor. I provided general genetic counseling for 8 years, and then established a cancer genetics program. All the cells in a person's body have the same DNA and the same genes. However, the difference between cells in different tissues and organs is that the "expression" of the genes differs between cells. Expression means that the message from the DNA is being copied and made into protein. For example, liver cells have different proteins than skin cells, even though their DNA is the same.
Shikellamy High School in PA (9th grade student)
154
Is homosexuality genetic?
     David Bodine, M.D., Ph.D.: I investigate the genetics of pluripotent hematopoietic stem cells (PHSCs) to improve the effectiveness of bone marrow transplantation and to find better ways to use these unique cells for gene replacement therapy. There was a paper that suggested that about 15 years ago, but that paper has been shown to be completely wrong. There are people who want to believe that there is a genetic component, but that has not been proven. There are people that want to believe that environment is the cause, and that cannot be proven either.
Shikellamy High School in PA (9th grade student)
155
What will you do if you find out the DNA map?
     Eric Green, M.D., Ph.D.: My research areas include: mapping, sequencing, and comparing eukaryotic genomes; using genome sequencing to study the genetic basis of human diseases. In the case of the human genome, we did this-- as part of the Human Genome Project. My own laboratory made a DNA map of one of our 23 chromosomes-- chromosome 7. This map 'organized' us for then sequencing that chromosome, all 170,000,000 bases of the chromosome. So, DNA maps are basically organizational tools for doing more detailed studies of that DNA.
Creative and Performing Arts High School in PA (10th grade student)
156
why dont i look like my parents? does it have to do with genetics
     Toni Pollin, M.S., Ph.D.: I have a Master's degree and board certification in genetic counseling and a Ph.D. in human genetics. My research interests include identifying genetic factors in common complex diseases. We inherit half of each of our biological parents' DNA, which in turn forms all of our DNA. How we look is determined by how several different gene products from both parents interact with one another in often unpredictable ways. Thus we are expected to be similar to our parents for many of our individual traits but not necessarily look exactly like them. Some of our individual traits may be very different; for example, two parents may have brown eyes but both carry the recessive forms of eye pigment genes that lead to blue eyes and have a child with blue eyes.
Shikellamy High School in PA (9th grade student)
157
How long did it actually take to decode the Human Genome?
     Eric Green, M.D., Ph.D.: My research areas include: mapping, sequencing, and comparing eukaryotic genomes; using genome sequencing to study the genetic basis of human diseases. It took us ~13 years to sequence the first human genome (i.e., to 'decode' the human genome). But it will take us decades to fully understand all the information encoded within its ~3 billion letters.
South Plantation High School in FL (9th grade student)
158
When you are mapping DNA codes, in general, who's genes are you looking at?
     Eric Green, M.D., Ph.D.: My research areas include: mapping, sequencing, and comparing eukaryotic genomes; using genome sequencing to study the genetic basis of human diseases. You are looking at the genes of the person whose DNA sample you are studying! And then, half of that came from their mom and half of that came from their dad.
Creative and Performing Arts High School in PA (9th grade student)
159
What can you tell us about the recent fears concerning the connection between vaccines and autism?
     Max Muenke, M.D.: I am a pediatrician and medical geneticist who is interested in the genetics of birth defects, specifically those that affect the face and the brain. More recently, I have become interested in a better understanding of the genetics of the most common behavioral disorder of childhood, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). In addition to running a research laboratory and working with patients in the NIH Clinical Center, I enjoy teaching and I direct Medical Genetics training at NIH. This is a fascinating question that I have heard from concerned parents who have a child with autism. I know of some parents who are very concerned about this question and have decided not to have their child vaccinated. The reason for this fear comes from several instances where a child was vaccinated and afterwards the child's behavior had changed. There are many more instances where children change their behavior and develop what most would call autism without any know reason what-so-ever. The reasons for autism are complex and multiple genetic factors are implicated. It is hypothesized that environmental factors play a role as well, but is not known what these multiple factors are. At this point there is no scientific evidence for a connection between vaccines and autism.
Joanna Harrington in NC (teacher)
160
Can DNA make you mean?
     Dale Lea, R.N., M.P.H., C.G.C., F.A.A.N.: I developing genetics, health education and community involvement programs and resources, and translate genetic and genomic information for the public. DNA plays a role in a person's personality. But a person's upbringing and environment also play a role. The exact role that DNA plays has yet to be determined.
Shikellamy High School in PA (9th grade student)
161
What is your reasoning for being in this field and what are you studying?
     Pam Schwartzberg, M.D., Ph.D.: I 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. We (my lab and I) study primary immunodeficiencies--that is disorders that cause people to be very susceptible to infections due to a mutations (a genetic change in their DNA) that affect their immune systems. We use mouse models that we generate to try to understand why these patients get sick and what is wrong with their immune systems. Why did I go into this field? Because I find it fascinating! I want to find out the mechanism of why the immune system does not work in these diseases and how we might be able to approach these diseases therapeutically. Understanding the genetic changes and what they do, is the first step in this process.
Creative and Performing Arts High School in PA (10th grade student)
162
Do bacterial plasmids have histones?
     David Bodine, M.D., Ph.D.: I investigate the genetics of pluripotent hematopoietic stem cells (PHSCs) to improve the effectiveness of bone marrow transplantation and to find better ways to use these unique cells for gene replacement therapy. Nope. Bacteria are prokaryotic (no nucleus). Their DNA is just naked in the cytoplasm. Histones are needed to organize DNA in the nucleus of eukaryotic (true nucleus) cells.
Lexington High School in SC (10th grade student)
163
What do you suggest for my school children to take up molecular diagnostics as the future career?
     Eric Green, M.D., Ph.D.: My research areas include: mapping, sequencing, and comparing eukaryotic genomes; using genome sequencing to study the genetic basis of human diseases. I actually trained as a clinical pathologist-- just before the Human Genome Project. Even then, it was clear that molecular diagnostics would be an exciting career. Now, as we live in the genomic era and are watching us enter an era when personalized medicine will become a part of clinical care, molecular diagnostics will become more sophisticated and rewarding. This field will need talented people at all levels-- from the physicians and scientists that direct the laboratories to the technicians and computer analysts who generate and interpret the data, respectively.
SMV Center for Biotechnology, Nagpur (teacher)
164
What interests you the most when studying DNA?
     Eric Green, M.D., Ph.D.: My research areas include: mapping, sequencing, and comparing eukaryotic genomes; using genome sequencing to study the genetic basis of human diseases. Two things... Studying DNA to understand why we get sick and how we can stay healthy. Studying DNA to understand how animals (and all life forms) have evolved. Genome sequences hold key clues for both of these areas.
Creative and Performing Arts High School in PA (10th grade student)
165
Scientists now moved from the old-fashioned clogged pipes to genetic researching Scientists have moved from the old-fashioned clogged pipes idea to genetic research in the causes of heart attacks. What is the Myocyte-Specific Enhancer and what happens to the body if it's mutated (despite myocardial damage in heart attack) ?Which chromosome that the gene belongs to?
     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. You are correct that there are some genetic changes that are associated with a risk of having a heart attack. One of the genes in this category is myocyte-specific enhancer or MEF2A. However, there is still quite a bit of research in the genetics of heart disease and heart attacks to be done. Changes in the gene MEF2A have been only associated with approximately 2% of patients with heart attacks. Currently, the utility of changes in MEF2A are not useful clinically.
Anthro-Therizino (7th grade student)
166
Do you think that knowing DNA code will it help cure Disease? Courtney Krause
     Judith Miller, M.S.: I am currently retired after working for 12 years as a genetic counselor. I provided general genetic counseling for 8 years, and then established a cancer genetics program. Disease happens when some process in the cell or tissue doesn't function correctly. Ultimately, all the processes in our cells are under the control of our DNA. So, yes, understanding the "correct" DNA code helps us to understand first the process in the body associated with disease, and then how to treat the process that is not right in the disease.
Creative and Performing Arts High School in PA (10th grade student)
167
In the light of epigenetics, is familial gene testing indicative of genetic disorders?
     Toni Pollin, M.S., Ph.D.: I have a Master's degree and board certification in genetic counseling and a Ph.D. in human genetics. My research interests include identifying genetic factors in common complex diseases. I'm not sure I understand the question, but the fact that there are epigenetic influences on gene expression does not prevent genetic testing from being useful for diagnosing and predicting genetic disorders in families.
SMV Center for Biotechnology, Nagpur (teacher)
168
Do you think curing so many genetic diseases will lead to over population and other problems that come with it, such as pollution, etc?
     Dale Lea, R.N., M.P.H., C.G.C., F.A.A.N.: I developing genetics, health education and community involvement programs and resources, and translate genetic and genomic information for the public. You are very smart to ask about unforseen consequences of genetic research. There are a lot of people involved in every step of genetic and genomic research to make sure it is done responsibly.
Wantagh High School in NY (10th grade student)
169
Can two identical twin sisters have the same 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. Identical twins do have the exact same DNA. This is what makes the study of identical twins especially useful because it helps us understand how environment can effect illness.
East Haven High School in CT (10th grade student)
170
When will everyone be tested for disease?
     Eric Green, M.D., Ph.D.: My research areas include: mapping, sequencing, and comparing eukaryotic genomes; using genome sequencing to study the genetic basis of human diseases. I assume you mean genetic tests for disease. The answer is NOW. In all US states, babies get a heel stick shortly after birth, and that blood sample is used to test for 20-30 genetic diseases. In the future, one can now imagine testing babies and adults for many more than 30 diseases. Doing so in advance of symptoms will in many cases help guide people to preventive measures for some diseases.
Creative and Performing Arts High School in PA (10th grade student)
171
Florida High School in FL (10th grade student)
172
Can DNA make you hot?
     Eric Green, M.D., Ph.D.: My research areas include: mapping, sequencing, and comparing eukaryotic genomes; using genome sequencing to study the genetic basis of human diseases. Not necessarily. But STUDYING DNA makes everyone think that you are hot.... And despite that hotness, it is truly cool to be a geneticist.
Shikellamy High School in PA (9th grade student)
173
If we can see DNA why can't we cure genetic disorders?
     Nisha Isaac, M.S., C.G.C.: Nisha Isaac is a board certified genetic counselor who is especially interested in cultural diversity and facilitating the availability and access of genetic services to all populations. Nisha has broad clinical and research experience that includes prenatal, pediatric, research and cancer genetics. Currently, Nisha is providing cancer genetic services at both St. Agnes Hospital and St. Josephs Cancer Institure in the Baltimore area. The cause of many genetic disorders is complicated. This means that the disorders can be caused by complex gene-gene interactions or gene-enviroment interactions. Even if a disorder is cause by a single gene change or mutation we would have to be able to manipulate the DNA in every single cell of the body in order to be able to cure the disease. Research is being done in this area but so far we have not been very successful in developing cures. We have however, been more successful at developing therapies (such as enzyme replacement therapy) to treat some disorders.
East Hampton High School in CT (10th grade student)
174
Why do we have DNA in our body?
     Eric Green, M.D., Ph.D.: My research areas include: mapping, sequencing, and comparing eukaryotic genomes; using genome sequencing to study the genetic basis of human diseases. All living organisms have DNA-- it is the informational molecule that is instructing the body, the plant, the cell, etc. how to function. Without that instruction book, that life form cannot function.
Shikellamy High School in PA (9th grade student)
175
What gene tests should a pregnant woman undertake to screen for genetic disorders?
     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 a number of genes that can be tested in pregnant women. The one that is generally recommended for most pregnant women is the gene associated with Cystic Fibrosis. Other genetic testing is recommended based on a number of clinical situations such as the age of the woman, her ethnic background, her family history and if there is a history of genetic illness in a previous child.
SMV Center for Biotechnology, Nagpur (teacher)
176
How can we increase students' interest in genetic research so that the whole research field can be improved?
     Dale Lea, R.N., M.P.H., C.G.C., F.A.A.N.: I developing genetics, health education and community involvement programs and resources, and translate genetic and genomic information for the public. This is an important question! DNA Day is certainly a beginning! For DNA Day, invite a genetic ambassador to your school. Hold a science fare based on genetics.
SMV Center for Biotechnology, Nagpur (teacher)
177
What are the future prospects in maintaining genetic privacy if someone has been tested? Will GINA laws be enforced?
     Judith Miller, M.S.: I am currently retired after working for 12 years as a genetic counselor. I provided general genetic counseling for 8 years, and then established a cancer genetics program. Genetic testing is typically performed in a medical setting, so the test result is typically in a person's medical record. Several laws enforce the privacy of a person's medical record. GINA makes sure that a person isn't discriminated against because of a genetic test result. This is a very important law and everyone in the genetics community will help to make sure that the law is enforced.
South Plantation High School in FL (9th grade teacher)
178
What encouraged you to study DNA??
     Max Muenke, M.D.: I am a pediatrician and medical geneticist who is interested in the genetics of birth defects, specifically those that affect the face and the brain. More recently, I have become interested in a better understanding of the genetics of the most common behavioral disorder of childhood, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). In addition to running a research laboratory and working with patients in the NIH Clinical Center, I enjoy teaching and I direct Medical Genetics training at NIH. I grew up in the country in Northwestern Germany and had a small garden, from when I was 10 years old. BY the time I was 13 I had over 20 animals, a dog, a lamb, pigeons, golden hamsters, mice. It struck me that every once in a while two golden hamster with brown fur had a baby hamster with white fur. I wondered how come that two parents would have a child that did not look like them. When I was in highschool I was able to participate in a human genetics course of a Department of Human Genetics. The Chair of that department had found the underlying cause for a very specific malformation of the hands and feet. I was so fascinated by that that I asked him, how I do something like he did (and that took quite some guts for a high-school student to address an old German professor). He suggested I go to medical school, then do training in pediatrics and genetics and work with families who have a child with a problem from birth. And that what I did and still love doing.
Creative and Performing Arts High School in PA (10th grade student)
179
According to your experience, what kind of genetic disorders do you most commonly see among your patients?
     Nisha Isaac, M.S., C.G.C.: Nisha Isaac is a board certified genetic counselor who is especially interested in cultural diversity and facilitating the availability and access of genetic services to all populations. Nisha has broad clinical and research experience that includes prenatal, pediatric, research and cancer genetics. Currently, Nisha is providing cancer genetic services at both St. Agnes Hospital and St. Josephs Cancer Institure in the Baltimore area. I currently work in cancer genetics. Therefore, I commonly see patients who might have a predisposition to cancers such as breast, colon, ovarian or renal (kidney). So, I mostly see cancer patients or patients who are at increased risk for developing cancer. In the past I have worked with pediatric and prenatal patients. In that setting I often saw pregnancies affected with Down syndrome or other genetic conditions (often more severe such as trisomy 13 or trisomy 18). I also saw children with other more rare genetic conditions in the pediatric setting (such as craniosynostosis and Moebius syndrome).
Anthro-Therizino (7th grade student)
180
Can you distinguish identical twins by their DNA fingerprint?
     David Bodine, M.D., Ph.D.: I investigate the genetics of pluripotent hematopoietic stem cells (PHSCs) to improve the effectiveness of bone marrow transplantation and to find better ways to use these unique cells for gene replacement therapy. The DNA in their nuclei are exactly the same, so you can't distinguish them that way. But your mitochondria also have DNA. You get your mitochondria from those that are in your mom's egg. They have DNA differences and they randomly go into daughter cells. So identical twins would have a different set of mitochondrial DNAs that you could use to tell them apart.
East Haven High School in CT (10th grade student)
181
How is metagenomics helpful in detecting an infectious agent?
     Eric Green, M.D., Ph.D.: My research areas include: mapping, sequencing, and comparing eukaryotic genomes; using genome sequencing to study the genetic basis of human diseases. Metagenomics is the study of DNA of a sample without isolating a specific organism. Some infectious agents cannot be isolated in a laboratory, and thus can remain undetected. But metagenomics analyzes a sample without having to first isolate that agent. As an example, imagine sequencing the DNA in a sample taken from a human body site with an infection. That DNA may reveal the infectious agent causing that infection, even though that agent (e.g., bacteria) might not be able to be studied otherwise.
SMV Center for Biotechnology, Nagpur (teacher)
182
If found early enough, could fats be removed from the brain of a child with Tay Sacs?
     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. Unfortunately attempts to treat children with Tay-Sachs have not worked. This is an active area of research, but treating illnesses that affect the brain are notoriously difficult.
Creative and Performing Arts High School in PA (9th grade student)
183
APOBEC3 is already known to affect HIV virulence. How does it do that?
     Pam Schwartzberg, M.D., Ph.D.: I 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. APOBEC 3 is a host factor that affects virulence of retrotransposons (such as retroviruses). APOBEC3 encodes a cytidine deaminase and is thought to affect mutation rates of the virus as well as other factors affecting virion production. HIV can escape the effects of APOBEC via neutralizing interactions with the virus Vif protein. Very recent data suggest that APOBEC3 affects the ability of the host to form neutralizing antibodies against HIV, a very intriguing finding that may provide insight into better designs for vaccines.
Anthro-Therizino (7th grade student)

Information - Moderator Joining us now is Janice Berliner, a genetic counselor who focuses on cancer genetics.


185
East Haven High School in CT (10th grade student)
186
What is a designer baby?
     Toni Pollin, M.S., Ph.D.: I have a Master's degree and board certification in genetic counseling and a Ph.D. in human genetics. My research interests include identifying genetic factors in common complex diseases. "Designer baby" is a fictional idea of designing a baby with a specific genetic makeup so that it will have optimal health, intelligence, athletic ability, etc.
Florida High School in FL (10th grade student)
187
What is the cutting edge treatment for breast cancer?
     Dale Lea, R.N., M.P.H., C.G.C., F.A.A.N.: I developing genetics, health education and community involvement programs and resources, and translate genetic and genomic information for the public. The cutting edge treatment for breast cancer involves analyzing the specific genetic cause of the breast cancer, and analyzing the tumors to determine what specific medications and treatments will work for a specific individual. This personalized approach to treating breast cancer is now being used for other cancers and diseases.
Wantagh High School in NY (10th grade student)
188
Have you mapped primate genomes? How close is it to ours/humans?
     Eric Green, M.D., Ph.D.: My research areas include: mapping, sequencing, and comparing eukaryotic genomes; using genome sequencing to study the genetic basis of human diseases. Yes. Many primate genomes are now being studied. How close to ours-- it depends on how close they are to humans on the evolutionary tree. Chimpanzees are the closest-- our genome sequences are about 98.5% identical. More distantly related primates-- such as prosimians-- are not nearly as identical in terms of their genome sequence. One of the goals of sequencing primates is to help us understand what makes us human-- compared to our closest primate relatives.
St. Lawrence Seminary in WI (10th grade student)
189
Is there any way to stop genetic disorders?
     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 is research ongoing to try and insert corrected genes into individuals with certain genetic illnesses. This is called gene therapy. These studies have met with varying degrees of success, unfortunately none of them are currently clinically useful.
Alexa Jessie, Clara,Lisa:D in CA (10th grade student)
190
Where did AIDS come from? Is it related to DNA?
     Pam Schwartzberg, M.D., Ph.D.: I 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. AIDS is caused by the Human Immunodeficiency virus, which most likely evolved from related simian (monkey) viruses. It is encoded by RNA (not DNA), but during the viral lifecycle gets copied into a double-stranded DNA copy that is incorporated into the host cell's genome, where is can be copied (transcribed back into RNA) to make more virus or can remain latent for years. So it does go through DNA in one part of its lifecycle.
St. Lawrence Seminary in WI (10th grade student)
191
What cures have they found from looking at DNA?
     David Bodine, M.D., Ph.D.: I investigate the genetics of pluripotent hematopoietic stem cells (PHSCs) to improve the effectiveness of bone marrow transplantation and to find better ways to use these unique cells for gene replacement therapy. Lots. A very nice example is a drug called Gleevec that is used to cure one kind of leukemia. Researchers determined the structure of the protein produced by the mutant gene causing the leukemia. From the protein structure they determined where the abnormal function was coming from and tested a whole class of drugs that were designed to bind to that part of the protein. One turned out to be specific for the mutant form of the protein and has revolutionized the treatment of this cancer. There are lots of other examples, but I think that in the next 10 years, there will be way more than the total we have now.
Creative and Performing Arts High School in PA (9th grade student)
192
With triplets, if one child has a flaw in the DNA that could signal a disease could all the children have that flaw?
     Dale Lea, R.N., M.P.H., C.G.C., F.A.A.N.: I developing genetics, health education and community involvement programs and resources, and translate genetic and genomic information for the public. It depends on whether the triplets are identical. In this case all three could have the flaw in their DNA. It also depends on the specific flaw in the DNA and if and how it is inherited.
Creative and Performing Arts High School in PA (9th grade student)
193
Is homosexuality Genetic?
     Toni Pollin, M.S., Ph.D.: I have a Master's degree and board certification in genetic counseling and a Ph.D. in human genetics. My research interests include identifying genetic factors in common complex diseases. Some studies suggest that sexual orientation may be in part influenced by genetic factors, but the answer is not yet clear.
East Haven High School in CT (10th grade student)
194
Will the mutation of DNA help find the cure for caner? Has it already been tried?
     Nisha Isaac, M.S., C.G.C.: Nisha Isaac is a board certified genetic counselor who is especially interested in cultural diversity and facilitating the availability and access of genetic services to all populations. Nisha has broad clinical and research experience that includes prenatal, pediatric, research and cancer genetics. Currently, Nisha is providing cancer genetic services at both St. Agnes Hospital and St. Josephs Cancer Institure in the Baltimore area. Unfortunately, cancer is not necessarily caused by only one mutation. for instance, there are about 1900 different mutations within the BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes that can cause an increased risk for breast cancer (and other cancers). It is definitely helpful for us to understand the cause of cancer so that we can better treat it or try and prevent it. But understanding the cause and knowing the mutation doesn't mean that we will definitely find a cure for the cancer. There is a lot of research being done on finding cures for cancer (especially in terms of developing vaccines) but nothing has been found to work completely.
Florida High School in FL (10th grade student)
195
Do DNA have any role in human behaviour?
     Eric Green, M.D., Ph.D.: My research areas include: mapping, sequencing, and comparing eukaryotic genomes; using genome sequencing to study the genetic basis of human diseases. Genetics certainly plays a role in some human behaviours, but can't be held responsible for accounting for all behaviours. It also depends on which behaviours are being considered. Behaviour in general almost certainly has genetic and environmental etiologies.
SMV Center for Biotechnology, Nagpur (teacher)
196
When testing DNA, who does the DNA belong to? How can the information that is found compare to other individuals?
     Max Muenke, M.D.: I am a pediatrician and medical geneticist who is interested in the genetics of birth defects, specifically those that affect the face and the brain. More recently, I have become interested in a better understanding of the genetics of the most common behavioral disorder of childhood, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). In addition to running a research laboratory and working with patients in the NIH Clinical Center, I enjoy teaching and I direct Medical Genetics training at NIH. The DNA belongs to the person where it comes from. So for example, if a person with a genetic disease gets his or her DNA tested, the results will come back to the doctor who is involved in the person's care. The results are then only for the person from whom the DNA came. Sometimes it may be important for other family members to learn about this finding. However, it is up to the person from whom the DNA came to decide with whom to share this information. There are exceptions where a person signs what we call a consent form that the DNA can be used for research and shared with others.
Creative and Performing Arts High School in PA (10th grade student)
197
How come the siamese twins born? And are there any genetic factors play a role in it?
     Nisha Isaac, M.S., C.G.C.: Nisha Isaac is a board certified genetic counselor who is especially interested in cultural diversity and facilitating the availability and access of genetic services to all populations. Nisha has broad clinical and research experience that includes prenatal, pediatric, research and cancer genetics. Currently, Nisha is providing cancer genetic services at both St. Agnes Hospital and St. Josephs Cancer Institure in the Baltimore area. Siamese or co-joined twins are born because of problems in the development of the twins during the pregnancy. Sometimes, parts of twins can fuse because of disruptions in the developmental process. Genetic factors probably play a role in this but they are not well understood.
Anthro-Therizino (7th grade student)
198
Is albinism a mutation or recessive gene? Is there a gene for not developing pigment? Is it more common in animals than humans?
     David Bodine, M.D., Ph.D.: I investigate the genetics of pluripotent hematopoietic stem cells (PHSCs) to improve the effectiveness of bone marrow transplantation and to find better ways to use these unique cells for gene replacement therapy. Albinism is caused by a mutation in a gene called tyrosinase. The tyrosinase protein is needed to make pigment. One normal tyrosinase gene makes enough protein to make pigment, so to be albino an organism must have two mutant tyrosinase genes. This makes the trait albinism a recessive trait. I think you see more albinism in humans than in at least wild animals. This is because we can care more easily for albino people (they are sensitive to sunlight and other things). Wild albinos really stick out and are usually easy prey for predators, so you rarely see albino birds or deer.
East Haven High School in CT (10th grade student)
199
What is the current progress in understanding the genetic basis of Parkinson 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. There are some genetic changes that have been associated with rare forms of Parkinson disease, but the majority of cases of Parkinson disease remain unexplained. An example of a gene that associated with Parkinson disease is alpha-synuclein or SCNA.
B.B.S.P.Nag SMVCBT, Nagpur, INDIA (teacher)
200
Can you determine if a child is more like their mother or their father by looking at their DNA?
     Eric Green, M.D., Ph.D.: My research areas include: mapping, sequencing, and comparing eukaryotic genomes; using genome sequencing to study the genetic basis of human diseases. Probably not. Each person is getting roughly equal genetic contributions from each parent. Just looking at the DNA and based on what we know about the human genome sequence today, there are very few things that could be predicted in terms of similarities/differences with each parent. One exception to this are known disease-causing mutations coming from one parent; if detected in a child, it can predict that the child will get the same genetic disease as the parent.
Becca Capa High School in PA (10th grade student)
201
What can impair the genetic code?
     Eric Green, M.D., Ph.D.: My research areas include: mapping, sequencing, and comparing eukaryotic genomes; using genome sequencing to study the genetic basis of human diseases. By 'impair', I assume you mean 'damage' or 'mutate'. Various things can damage DNA-- sunlight, chemicals, various drugs, etc. Also, if the machinery that each cell has to copy its DNA becomes broken, then the genetic code of that cell can become damaged.
New Rochelle High School in NY (10th grade student)
202
Why are fruits used most often during extraction lab in school?
     David Bodine, M.D., Ph.D.: I investigate the genetics of pluripotent hematopoietic stem cells (PHSCs) to improve the effectiveness of bone marrow transplantation and to find better ways to use these unique cells for gene replacement therapy. Mostly because the ratio of DNA (what you want) to cytoplasm (what you are extracting the DNA from) is relatively high compared to meat or leaves. In any extraction, you get a much better yield when the ratio of what you want to what you do not want is higher.
East Haven High School in CT (10th grade student)
203
Trafalgar School For Girls (10th grade student)
204
Can a piece of DNA be used for multiple uses or only one use?
     Pam Schwartzberg, M.D., Ph.D.: I 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. Any one of your chromosomes is essentially a long piece of DNA, which is used for many uses at once, as that many genes are transcribed from that chromosome at many different rates and under many different control mechanisms. Certain chromosome can also undergo genetic recombination (such as those that include immunoglobulin or antibody genes which undergo gene rearrangment to increase the antibody repertoire). All these can go on at the same time so yes, a piece of DNA can be used for multiple uses at the same time.
St. Lawrence Seminary in WI (9th grade student)
205
Can homosexuals have kids with the aid of genetic engineering?
     Dale Lea, R.N., M.P.H., C.G.C., F.A.A.N.: I developing genetics, health education and community involvement programs and resources, and translate genetic and genomic information for the public. There are current technologies that make it possible for almost anyone to have children. As an example, in vitro fertilization.
East Haven High School in CT (10th grade student)
206
What would happen if two spermatazoa entered an egg cell at the same time?
     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. This is a situation that does happen rarely and is called dispermy. This usually results in a embryo that has 69 chromosomes instead of 46. Unfortunately, this often results in a miscarriage.
Lisa (teacher)

Information - Moderator Joining us is Dr. Barry Thompson. He is the Medical Director for the American College of Medical Genetics.


208
How often do you clone things to find out more on DNA?
     Pam Schwartzberg, M.D., Ph.D.: I 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. We subclone things all the time so that we can move pieces of DNA into different vectors (so we can express genes in different cells or at different times) or so we can introduce changes so that we can learn more about the genes and the proteins they encode. So everyday!
markiela in PA (10th grade student)
209
Can stem cells save a person with Parkinsons 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. While there is huge hopes for stem cell therapies in regards to many diseases including Parkinson disease, there is still much more research needed before any of these therapies will be clinically useful.
East Haven High School in CT (10th grade student)
210
Is a cure for diabetes on the way?
     Toni Pollin, M.S., Ph.D.: I have a Master's degree and board certification in genetic counseling and a Ph.D. in human genetics. My research interests include identifying genetic factors in common complex diseases. Diabetes mellitus is actually several different diseases, each with different causes and all resulting in high blood sugar. Our understanding of diabetes and ability to treat it effectively has improved greatly over the past several decades, especially the discovery of insulin, which has enable children with type 1 diabetes (inability to produce insulin) to live well into adulthood. Our increasing understanding of the genetic factors in some types of diabetes is improving our ability to provide effective treatment, but it's not clear when or if there will be a "cure."
Wantagh High School in NY (10th grade student)
211
What would someone do after getting their undergraduate degree if they were inclined to study DNA or genetics?
     Eric Green, M.D., Ph.D.: My research areas include: mapping, sequencing, and comparing eukaryotic genomes; using genome sequencing to study the genetic basis of human diseases. Many options:
  • Get a job working in a genetics laboratory.
  • Become a genetic counselor.
  • Get a PhD and become a genetics researcher.
  • Get an MD and become a medical geneticist.
  • Become a computer scientist and help us interpret information about our genomes.

The field of genetics has a huge tent, and we need many talented people to come join us in this ever-growing field.
Scranton Preparatory School in PA (10th grade student)
212
Can you use DNA to find out genealogy/ancestors of a family tree?
     Morgan Butrick, B.A., Sc.M.: I am training to be a genetic counselor. My time is spent seeing genetic counseling patients in clinic, doing social and behavioral research, and attending classes related to genetics, ethics, policy, research, and public health. Yes, in fact, you can use DNA to find out information about ancestry. While the science is far from perfect, there are many academic researchers in this area, and many online services that will analyze a cheek swab for several hundred dollars.
St. Lawrence Seminary in WI (9th grade student)
213
Do you think you will ever be able to find the 1 letter of DNA code that can cause each problem within the body?
     Max Muenke, M.D.: I am a pediatrician and medical geneticist who is interested in the genetics of birth defects, specifically those that affect the face and the brain. More recently, I have become interested in a better understanding of the genetics of the most common behavioral disorder of childhood, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). In addition to running a research laboratory and working with patients in the NIH Clinical Center, I enjoy teaching and I direct Medical Genetics training at NIH. The short answer is yes. The real answer is longer though. As a first step one would need to sequence the entire genome of the person. As you know this can be done now, but is not done on a routine basis. At this point, specific genes that are known to cause specific problems are being sequenced. There are DNA diagnostic laboratories who do exactly that and test genes for 1,000 -2,000 diseases. But there is no laboratory that routinely tests the entire genome of a person yet. I expect this to happen in the not too distant future.
Creative and Performing Arts High School in PA (10th grade student)
214
How are children from inter-family marriages affected genetically?
     David Bodine, M.D., Ph.D.: I investigate the genetics of pluripotent hematopoietic stem cells (PHSCs) to improve the effectiveness of bone marrow transplantation and to find better ways to use these unique cells for gene replacement therapy. Usually not at all. However, all of us carry a certain number of deleterious genes that are heterozygous with a normal allele. There are lots of these mutations and genes, and people from different families usually have different sets of deleterious genes. When there is an inter-family marriage, the family members often share some of the deleterious genes, increasing the possibility that a kid will be homozygous for the deleterious gene. We're getting better at identifying the deleterious mutations but we have a very long way to go to know how many and which ones they are.
Alexa Jessie, Clara,Lisa:D in CA (10th grade student)
215
What is the Human Genome Project?
     Eric Green, M.D., Ph.D.: My research areas include: mapping, sequencing, and comparing eukaryotic genomes; using genome sequencing to study the genetic basis of human diseases. An international project performed from 1990-2003 that generated the first-ever sequence of the human genome. It was biology's equivalent of putting the first man on the moon.
Alexa Jessie, Clara,Lisa:D in CA (10th grade student)
216
How do you believe stem cell research, with all their potential, will impact the field of moleculuar biology?
     David Bodine, M.D., Ph.D.: I investigate the genetics of pluripotent hematopoietic stem cells (PHSCs) to improve the effectiveness of bone marrow transplantation and to find better ways to use these unique cells for gene replacement therapy. There is a lot to learn from stem cells. One molecular biology question is how do the cells and their DNA change when stem cells differentiate (mature) into mature cells? Clinically, we are already using bone marrow stem cells to cure blood diseases like leukemia and Sickle Cell Disease. As we learn more about stem cells we ought to be able to use stem cells to treat lots of diseases.
Scranton Preparatory School in PA (10th grade student)

Information - Moderator We now have Kimberly Barr, a genetic counselor whose work focuses on educational materials, patients, and providers.


218
Can skin cancer be a genetic disease?
     Janice Berliner, M.S., C.G.C.: I am a cancer genetic counselor, performing genetic risk assessment and counseling for cancer patients and those at risk for cancer. It really depends upon what type of skin cancer. Melanomas are sometimes genetic, although most are not. Basal cell and squamous cell skin cancers typically aren't. It's important to know what type of skin cancer it is and then talk with a dermatologist and possibly a genetic counselor about who in the family is affected and at what ages of onset and on what part of the body. With all this information, you'll be able to have a better answer. But the short answer is that most skin cancers aren't genetic!
East Haven High School in CT (10th grade student)
219
If found early enough, could certain DNA diseases be prevented of fixed in a fetus?
     Toni Pollin, M.S., Ph.D.: I have a Master's degree and board certification in genetic counseling and a Ph.D. in human genetics. My research interests include identifying genetic factors in common complex diseases. While it's not possible to change the genetic makeup of a fetus, in a few rare cases, the impact of genetically caused or influenced conditions can be minimized, for example fetal surgery for spina bifida or maternal treatment with vitamin B12 to reduce problems associated with some forms of a rare disorder called methymalonic acidemia in the baby.
East Haven High School in CT (10th grade student)
220
It is known that the BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes account for around 15% of breast cancer cases. What impact does faulty DNA have on the remaining 85% of cases?
     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 occur because of abnormal growth of cells caused by mutations in DNA. Some individuals are born with DNA changes that increase their risk of developing cancer such as the situation with BRCA1 and BRCA2. There are a few other genes that have been associated with rare cases of breast cancer such as CHEK2 and PTEN. However, the majority of breast cancer is caused by sporadic changes that occur after a person is born.
St. Ignatius in IL (student)
221
If a purine were substituted for a pyrimidine at a single position in one strand of a DNA double helix, what would happen?
     David Bodine, M.D., Ph.D.: I investigate the genetics of pluripotent hematopoietic stem cells (PHSCs) to improve the effectiveness of bone marrow transplantation and to find better ways to use these unique cells for gene replacement therapy. The "proof reading" function of the DNA synthesis machinery would detect it, cut it out and put in the correct base.
East Haven High School in CT (10th grade student)
222
what kind of project I can do today with my toddler to tell her about DNA. (or is it possible to teach a 2 year old about DNA?)
     Michael Dougherty, PhD: I'm the director of education for the American Society of Human Genetics. I help to educate people about the importance and role of genetics in their lives. Wow, that's a tough one. Most toddlers don't yet have the abstract-thinking ability to handle the concept of molecules like DNA. I would start with a more basic but essential idea--inheritance. At a toddler's level, the idea that humans have baby humans and horses have baby horses is not insignificant. Humans never have horses as offspring, and the reason is the DNA is unique to each species (although your two-year old need not get to the DNA level).
Amy Fung in CA ()
223
Would we ever be able to make the perfect human by taking out the DNA in a reproductive cell and put in selected DNA?
     Barry H. Thompson, M.D., M.S.: As Medical Director at AMCG, I am responsible for activities such as professional practices, clinical guidelines, and ethical aspects of clinical genetics. Probably not. Although it's possible to change the genetic information in a cell by substituting DNA from another cell, designing or producing a "perfect human being" is unlikely, because we wouldn't be able to forecast all of the expressions of the many genes substituted. Our understanding of the total of the human genome remains imperfect.
St. Lawrence Seminary in WI (9th grade student)
224
Do you believe we will be able to find a cure for Tay Sacs and other diseases by continuing to study DNA?
     Dale Lea, R.N., M.P.H., C.G.C., F.A.A.N.: I developing genetics, health education and community involvement programs and resources, and translate genetic and genomic information for the public. I believe that there is hope that by continuing to study DNA that a cure for Tay Sachs and other diseases will be discovered.
Creative and Performing Arts High School in PA (10th grade student)

Information - Moderator Now in the chat is Jonathan Gitlin. He has a Ph.D and is just getting involved in policy issues.


226
why do they say that it is dangerous for older women to have children?
     Janice Berliner, M.S., C.G.C.: I am a cancer genetic counselor, performing genetic risk assessment and counseling for cancer patients and those at risk for cancer. In general, it's because girls/women are born with all the eggs they'll ever have, and therefore the older you are, the older your eggs are. That makes them more vulnerable to damage. What increases in risk as we age is the probability for chromosome abnormalities such as Down syndrome (there are many others). Most birth defects and other types of problems, whether it's mental retardation, autism, cerebral palsy, metabolic disorders, whatever, are not functions of the mother's age. They also cannot generally be detected using prenatal diagnostic techniques the way that chromosome abnormalities can.
Trafalgar School For Girls (10th grade student)
227
do you think it's dangerous to map DNA faster than what we're doing now
     Eric Green, M.D., Ph.D.: My research areas include: mapping, sequencing, and comparing eukaryotic genomes; using genome sequencing to study the genetic basis of human diseases. By 'map', I assume you mean sequencing the genomes of different people. It is a fair question to raise-- could we go too fast? The answer could be yes if we don't protect the confidentiality of the genetic information that we generate when we sequence someone's genome. Also, we need to be careful what we tell someone about their genome sequence-- being sure we truly understand what that sequence means. Fortunately, geneticists and genome scientists are thinking about these issues. And policy makers are helping put into place appropriate protections. Caution is valuable in this case.
Creative and Performing Arts High School in PA (9th grade student)
228
Since PNA has properties that are considered suitable for the creation of synthetic life, has any further research been done in regards to the presence of catalytic PNA molecules that may substitute catalytic RNA? Since PNA's Hoogsteen pairing allows for more specificity in binding, would such a substitution be more advantageous?
     Pam Schwartzberg, M.D., Ph.D.: I 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. PNA or peptide nucleic acid oligonucleotide mimetics have certain advantages in terms of stability and specificity. I am not certain if they have been used to replace catalytic RNA, but they are certainly being evaluated for use in regulating gene expression via nucleic acid triplex formation. Thus, PNA might be used to mimic effect of short-interfering RNAs and there is some research suggesting they can activate RNAse H to degrade RNA-DNA hybrids.
St. Ignatius in IL (student)
229
Can you describe the effect of point mutation?
     Janice Berliner, M.S., C.G.C.: I am a cancer genetic counselor, performing genetic risk assessment and counseling for cancer patients and those at risk for cancer. I'm sure there are many ways to describe these effects. You probably know that DNA codes for amino acids. If a point mutation causes an amino acid substitution that involves a stop codon, then transcription will come to an abrupt halt, causing a truncated protein. Of course, this is a big problem. There must be many other results of point mutations, but I'm not too familiar with them offhand (sorry!).
East Hampton High School in CT (10th grade student)
230
How do you find all of the codes for every disease or problem?
     Max Muenke, M.D.: I am a pediatrician and medical geneticist who is interested in the genetics of birth defects, specifically those that affect the face and the brain. More recently, I have become interested in a better understanding of the genetics of the most common behavioral disorder of childhood, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). In addition to running a research laboratory and working with patients in the NIH Clinical Center, I enjoy teaching and I direct Medical Genetics training at NIH. When I read your question first, it felt somewhat overwhelming. However, when you divide it up one disease at a time, it does not sound so overwhelming anymore. And this is how most doctors and scientists have done this. Most laboratories do exactly that, they study the genetic cause of one or just a few diseases. For example, a doctor will see a few patients with the same disorder and then decide to study this disorder. He or she will talk to other colleagues who also work with families who have a child with the same genetic problem and they decide to work together to solve the genetic problem.
Pittsburgh CAPA in PA (9th grade student)
231
Can you combine the dna from two sperm to create a baby?
     Eric Green, M.D., Ph.D.: My research areas include: mapping, sequencing, and comparing eukaryotic genomes; using genome sequencing to study the genetic basis of human diseases. Just using two sperm would not yield a viable baby. The contribution of the egg-- its cytoplasm and other nutrients-- is critically important.
East Haven High School in CT (10th grade student)

Information - Moderator Now joining us is Dr. Mary Schueler. Her work involves rapidly growing field called comparitive genomics.


233
Have any new genetic diseases been discovered recently?
     Kimberly Barr, M.S.: My work involves content development and mangement for our Regional Genetics Web site and development of education materials for Kaiser members and providers. Another aspect to my job includes outreach to the community, which has included lectures to medical students. New genetic diseases are being discovered regularly. As genetic tests improve and new technology is introduced, we are able to identify more genetic causes of disease. In many cases this allows us to recognize completely new genetic diseases.
East Hampton High School in CT (10th grade student)
234
If hair colour is genetic, why can it change over time?
     Eric Green, M.D., Ph.D.: My research areas include: mapping, sequencing, and comparing eukaryotic genomes; using genome sequencing to study the genetic basis of human diseases. Hair color changes over time because the pigment-producing cells that produce hair color die off (with age). The other reason hair color changes is that people pay money to have that color changed...
Alexa Jessie, Clara,Lisa:D in CA (10th grade student)
235
Are there miRNAs in introns and exons?
     Michael Dougherty, PhD: I'm the director of education for the American Society of Human Genetics. I help to educate people about the importance and role of genetics in their lives. Yes, microRNAs, or miRNAs, are common in microbes, plants, and animals, and they can be found in introns of coding genes and exons of noncoding transcripts. miRNAs play important regulatory functions.
Black Hawk High School in WI (12th grade student)
236
What is stopping scientists from perfecting genetic engineering?
     Barry H. Thompson, M.D., M.S.: As Medical Director at AMCG, I am responsible for activities such as professional practices, clinical guidelines, and ethical aspects of clinical genetics. I'm going to assume that by genetic engineering, you mean the broad topic of employing a variety of genetic technologies to benefit the target population, be it humans, animals, or plants. Scientists are employing many of the means, such as testing to avoid problems, treatments that lessen bad effects, and reproductive technologies that ensure offspring without known medical difficulties. They are proceeding carefully as our understanding increases. A full understanding of genetics/ genomics in humans probably is decades, if not centuries away, so "perfecting engineering" is a ways into the future.
East Haven High School in CT (10th grade student)

Information - Moderator Please welcome Jennifer Sloan. She's a genetic counselor who studies rare metabolic conditions.


238
Have any new genetic diseases been discovered recently?
     Kimberly Barr, M.S.: My work involves content development and mangement for our Regional Genetics Web site and development of education materials for Kaiser members and providers. Another aspect to my job includes outreach to the community, which has included lectures to medical students. New genetic diseases are being discovered regularly. As genetic tests improve and new technology is introduced, we are able to identify more genetic causes of disease. In many cases this allows us to recognize completely new genetic diseases.
East Hampton High School in CT (10th grade student)
239
How is it that a couple that are both "little people" have a child of normal height?
     Janice Berliner, M.S., C.G.C.: I am a cancer genetic counselor, performing genetic risk assessment and counseling for cancer patients and those at risk for cancer. Typically these types of dwarfism are dominant, which means that inheriting it from one parent is enough to cause an individual to be affected. Remember that we each have two copies of each of our genes, one from each parent. So if a dwarf has a normal stature copy of the gene from one parent and a dwarfing copy of the gene from the other, he will be a dwarf, but can pass the normal stature copy to his child. The same is true for his spouse. So if the child inherits both normal stature copies from his/her parents, he/she will be of normal stature. Make sense?
Trafalgar School For Girls (10th grade student)
240
How long does it take for RNA to copy DNA?
     Mary Schueler, Ph.D.: I compare the DNA sequence of essential chromosomal regions from multiple primates to define functional changes that have occurred during evolution. Actions in the cell typically happen very quickly, on the order of seconds or even fractions of seconds. It will likely depend on the particular gene being transcribed and the type of cell that is using the gene.
Florida High School in FL (10th grade student)
241
Is Alzheimer's a hereditary genetic disease?
     Dale Lea, R.N., M.P.H., C.G.C., F.A.A.N.: I developing genetics, health education and community involvement programs and resources, and translate genetic and genomic information for the public. Because researchers have discovered a genetic link to Alzheimer disease, it has a genetic component and can be inherited in families.
Jeffrey Toyes, father has Alzheimers in WY (8th grade teacher)
242
what causes a birth mark?
     Janice Berliner, M.S., C.G.C.: I am a cancer genetic counselor, performing genetic risk assessment and counseling for cancer patients and those at risk for cancer. there are probably many answers to this, but for the common "strawberry" type birth marks, which are also called hemangiomas, I believe they are caused by broken blood vessels. This occurs, I think, during the birthing process, and they are supposed to fade and eventually disappear. My daughter has one on her neck!
Alexa Jessie, Clara,Lisa:D in CA (10th grade student)
243
Why is genetics so important?
     Eric Green, M.D., Ph.D.: My research areas include: mapping, sequencing, and comparing eukaryotic genomes; using genome sequencing to study the genetic basis of human diseases. Because all diseases have a genetic component. With recent advances in genetics, we are quickly learning about the precise genetic factors that play in role in hundreds and hundreds of diseases. Genetics will play a major role in advances in health care in the coming decades.
Creative and Performing Arts High School in PA (student)
244
Why is the "twin gene" only carried by women?
     Jennifer Sloan, M.S., Ph.D., C.G.C.: I am involved in genetic counseling, as well as studying the very rare metabolic condition Methylmalonic Acidemia (MMA), and the more common condition Neurofibromatosis Type I (NF1). Thanks for your question! There is not a specific "twin gene". However, there probably is a genetic predisposition for having twins in some families. In these families, the women are more likely to release multiple eggs at ovulation and that is why there is an increase chance of having twins.
Florida High School in FL (10th grade student)
245
If DNA is such a large molecule, why can't we see it without magnification?
     Michael Dougherty, PhD: I'm the director of education for the American Society of Human Genetics. I help to educate people about the importance and role of genetics in their lives. Great question. The major reason we can't see DNA is that, even if stretched out to its full length, the double helix of DNA is almost impossibly thin. Within the nucleus of the cell, DNA exists as discrete chromosomes, and when those chromosomes become compact prior to mitosis or meiosis (cell division), they do become visible with relatively little magnification.
Lisa (teacher)
246
Why do you like biology?
     Mary Schueler, Ph.D.: I compare the DNA sequence of essential chromosomal regions from multiple primates to define functional changes that have occurred during evolution. I like biology because it studies basic elements of nature. How organisms work and live together and how they interact with their environment are fundamental questions. Learning about these things can help humans exist within their environment with better health and while taking better care of the world in which we live.
East Haven High School in CT (10th grade student)
247
Eventually, will we be able to make the "perfect" human with the aid of genetic engineering?
     Eric Green, M.D., Ph.D.: My research areas include: mapping, sequencing, and comparing eukaryotic genomes; using genome sequencing to study the genetic basis of human diseases. No. First, I have no idea what the perfect human would be. Second, I doubt genetic engineering would ever (or should ever) be able to produce a 'perfectly-designed' human. With that said, genetic engineering can be applied for treating genetic diseases (as with gene therapy) and for helping design better drug treatments for some diseases.
East Haven High School in CT (10th grade student)
248
if someone has an extra body part such as finger or toe can it be passed on to kids?
     Kimberly Barr, M.S.: My work involves content development and mangement for our Regional Genetics Web site and development of education materials for Kaiser members and providers. Another aspect to my job includes outreach to the community, which has included lectures to medical students. In some cases, having an extra finger or toe is a trait that can be passed on from a parent to a child. However, there are many individuals where this appears to be a one-time random event, that does not get passed on.
AJ Lucatino in CT (10th grade student)
249
Human genetics is considered a new frontier subject, and rightly so. How do you think that the new prospects offered by genetics can affect two everyday questions. Firstly, the allocation of health service resources in richer countries and , secondly, health and environmental policies both in and directed towards poor countries (where even water supplies are a problem)?
     Barry H. Thompson, M.D., M.S.: As Medical Director at AMCG, I am responsible for activities such as professional practices, clinical guidelines, and ethical aspects of clinical genetics. Thoughtful questions! And topical, as these policies are among those most hotly debated in government and science today. A better understanding of human genetics/genomics perhaps will allow better "targeting" of resources to those areas (in medicine and preventive health, for example) in which the greatest need will be addressed. Health in general, and genetics/genomics in particular, are applicable to many of the problems in less-advantaged countries. You rightly recognize that adequate food and access to safe drinking water as being paramount needs in those areas, but advances in science and medicine do allow us to improve health generally, so that specific genetic/genomic needs can be addressed subsequently.
Alexa Jessie, Clara,Lisa:D in CA (10th grade student)
250
How do free radicals damage DNA and where do they come from?
     Jonathan Gitlin, Ph.D.: I keep abreast of developments in the field of genomics and genetics, and the policy implications of those developments. I conduct analyses on programs undertaken by NHGRI and prepare reports that are used by the institute, the Department of Health and Human Services, and members of Congress for determining future research priorities and for funding. Free radicals are molecules with unpaired electrons, which makes them highly reactive. Free radicals can come from a number sources inside the cell, often as byproducts from enzymes (such as cyclooxygenase, the enzyme that advil works on). Other types of cells produce free radicals as a defense against infection, or to use as a signal between cells. Since the free radicals have unpaired electrons, they are highly reactive, and when they come into contact with DNA molecules inside a cell, they can react with individual bases, in a process called oxidation. This can cause the affected base to mispair during replication, which introduces mutations into subsequent copies.
Black Hawk High School in WI (12th grade student)
251
Which chromosome pair, if any, is linked to diabetes?
     Dale Lea, R.N., M.P.H., C.G.C., F.A.A.N.: I developing genetics, health education and community involvement programs and resources, and translate genetic and genomic information for the public. Genome wide association studies (GWAS) have identified a number genes that predispose a person to diabetes. These genes are located on different chromosomes.
Lexington High School in SC (9th grade student)
252
Does Hardy Weinberg equilibrium apply to the human race?
     Michael Dougherty, PhD: I'm the director of education for the American Society of Human Genetics. I help to educate people about the importance and role of genetics in their lives. The Hardy-Weinberg equilibrium is a method for determining whether a population is changing genetically, for example, if it's evolving. It depends on examining the allele frequencies in populations. There are many parameters that must be met for a population to be in equilibrium. In human populations, many of these are not met, for example, humans do not mate randomly. Thus, our population has changed over evolutionary history and will likely continue to change.
B.B.S.P.Nag SMVCBT, Nagpur, INDIA (teacher)
253
Why is it that strawberries are octoploid and we are not?
     Eric Green, M.D., Ph.D.: My research areas include: mapping, sequencing, and comparing eukaryotic genomes; using genome sequencing to study the genetic basis of human diseases. I can't tell you 'why'-- but I can tell you that nature has many genomic surprises. Certain plants and animals have genomes that are not diploid (i.e., two copies of each chromosome). Somehow, during evolution, the whole genome got duplicated once or twice or more-- and that number just stuck in that creature. While there might be theories about why that creature then survived, the truth is that most of these cases remain evolutionary mysteries.
East Haven High School in CT (10th grade teacher)
254
East Haven High School in CT (10th grade student)
255
Is it possible for two males or two females to have children?
     Kimberly Barr, M.S.: My work involves content development and mangement for our Regional Genetics Web site and development of education materials for Kaiser members and providers. Another aspect to my job includes outreach to the community, which has included lectures to medical students. It is not currently possible for two males or two females to have biologic children together. A special process called "imprinting" turns on and off different genes in the egg and sperm cells. So the DNA from the egg and sperm each have unique information important for development of a fetus.
East Haven High School in CT (10th grade student)
256
Isn't it dangerous to tamper with human genetic makeup?
     Barry H. Thompson, M.D., M.S.: As Medical Director at AMCG, I am responsible for activities such as professional practices, clinical guidelines, and ethical aspects of clinical genetics. Dangerous can be interpreted in several ways. I'd prefer to have you think of alterations in genetic make-up, breeding improvement programs in plants for example, as opportunities to benefit humankind. It is appropriate to to excise caution when introducing new technologies, as we recognize that our understanding of genetics/genomics, especially in humans is as yet incomplete.
Alexa Jessie, Clara,Lisa:D in CA (10th grade student)
257
Somewhat silly question - now that we know that cows share 80% of our DNA (which is more than rats or mice) - will there be building of some seriously new larger labs to house cows as our new lab subjects?
     Michael Dougherty, PhD: I'm the director of education for the American Society of Human Genetics. I help to educate people about the importance and role of genetics in their lives. Probably not. Good model organisms for genetics must be inexpensive, easy to care for, and reproduce rapidly, and cows don't fit the bill. Still, the cow genome will allow cattle breeders to be more efficient with their selective breeding.
American History HS in NJ (teacher)
258
How is height of an individual related to genetics? If a parent is short and another parent is tall, are the children an average of the two?
     Janice Berliner, M.S., C.G.C.: I am a cancer genetic counselor, performing genetic risk assessment and counseling for cancer patients and those at risk for cancer. It sort of seems this way, but height is a metric trait, which means that it is controlled by several genes that each contribute a certain amount. Let's say that height is controlled by 5 genes (I'm making up the number). We have 2 copies of every gene, one from each parent, so think of it as having a certain amount of points for each copy from each parent. The short parent is only going to give a small amount of points for each copy, and the tall parent is going to give more points, but not necessarily the same number of points for each copy to each child. Depending upon the number of points given, the child will grow to a certain height depending upon the total. Of course this can be influenced to some degree by nutrition, health and other external factors.
Trafalgar School For Girls (10th grade student)
259
how come you like science?
     Michael Dougherty, PhD: I'm the director of education for the American Society of Human Genetics. I help to educate people about the importance and role of genetics in their lives. It beats working for a living! I get paid to think about how living organisms work and do experiments to test my ideas. What could be more fun than that?
East Haven High School in CT (10th grade student)
260
Is there any possibility of having only an X type or only a Y type of sperm through genetic control?
     Dale Lea, R.N., M.P.H., C.G.C., F.A.A.N.: I developing genetics, health education and community involvement programs and resources, and translate genetic and genomic information for the public. Fifty person of sperm contain an X chromosome and 50% contain a Y chromosome. It may be difficult to specifically select an X or a Y chromosome.
Bhanu , Nagpur, INDIA (teacher)
261
What is "junk DNA" and what's it's purpose? If it's useless, why it hasn't thrown out?
     Greg Feero, M.D., Ph.D.: I work to help make emerging genetic technologies more accessible to health professionals. "Junk DNA" is an old term that is now largely regarded to be naive. It was once used to refer to DNA that did not directly code for protein, and thus was thought to be junk (i.e., not needed). But we now have come to learn that non-coding DNA has many very important functional sequences. Thus, what was once called junk turns out to be critical for life! With that said, there are parts of our genome that we still don't know if they are functional. Are they junk-- or are we still just naive? We don't know for sure, but we should probably be careful to label them as junk because we have been fooled once before about this!
Anthro-Therizino (7th grade student)
262
Who invented Bio-Markers? Was it the Sharpie corporation?
     Jonathan Gitlin, Ph.D.: I keep abreast of developments in the field of genomics and genetics, and the policy implications of those developments. I conduct analyses on programs undertaken by NHGRI and prepare reports that are used by the institute, the Department of Health and Human Services, and members of Congress for determining future research priorities and for funding. No, biomarkers are naturally occurring molecules that are produced by biological processes, whether that be normal physiology or a disease. Scientists have worked out that they can look for the presence of these molecules as proxies for those biological processes.
Samuel Thomas John in NJ (5th grade teacher)
263
What does ELSI stand for and what does it mean?
     Barry H. Thompson, M.D., M.S.: As Medical Director at AMCG, I am responsible for activities such as professional practices, clinical guidelines, and ethical aspects of clinical genetics. ELSI (sometimes listed as SELI) stands for Ethical, Legal, and Social Issues - those aspects of human existence about which scientists and others try to be respectful. For more information, please go to: http://www.genome.gov/elsi/.
Thomas Knell in MS ()
264
My bio teacher is awesome! What should I do?
     Eric Green, M.D., Ph.D.: My research areas include: mapping, sequencing, and comparing eukaryotic genomes; using genome sequencing to study the genetic basis of human diseases. First, learn, learn, learn from him/her. Second, thank him/her. Third, tell the Principal that he/she deserves a raise.
Shikellamy High School in PA (9th grade student)
265
How does pouring alcohol into a filtrate make DNA visible?
     Mary Schueler, Ph.D.: I compare the DNA sequence of essential chromosomal regions from multiple primates to define functional changes that have occurred during evolution. What you see when you add the alcohol is the salt ions that are associated with the DNA. Addition of salt makes the DNA less soluble in solution and the alcohol makes the solution even less compatible with the molecule.
East Haven High School in CT (10th grade student)
266
How specific can a person be in choosing genes for their future children?
     Dale Lea, R.N., M.P.H., C.G.C., F.A.A.N.: I developing genetics, health education and community involvement programs and resources, and translate genetic and genomic information for the public. At present, if a couple has a genetic condition in the family it is possible to have a procedure called pre-implantation genetic diagnosis (PGD) to choose an embryo without the genetic condition. However, it is not currently possible to select specific genes for future children, and there are many ethical issues to be considered with this process.
East Haven High School in CT (10th grade student)
267
Can race be determined by looking at DNA?
     Barry H. Thompson, M.D., M.S.: As Medical Director at AMCG, I am responsible for activities such as professional practices, clinical guidelines, and ethical aspects of clinical genetics. No. While some genes (and related disorders) may be more common in one subset of the human population than in others, there is no "racial determinant" in the human genome.
Lexington High School in SC (teacher)
268
can twins have the same health problems, and have the same allergies?
     Janice Berliner, M.S., C.G.C.: I am a cancer genetic counselor, performing genetic risk assessment and counseling for cancer patients and those at risk for cancer. They certainly can, but they also don't have to. A lot depends upon whether they are identical or fraternal. Fraternal twins are no more alike than any siblings, they just happened to be born together. Identical twins have, of course, the same DNA, so they're much more likely to be subject to similar health problems, like allergies. However, we know that it takes (usually) a lot more than genetics to make a lot of health problems, so there can be a lot of discordance between identical twins. In certain disorders that are controlled strictly by genes, like cystic fibrosis or sickle cell disease, if one identical twin has it, the other will too. With other things, like diabetes, it is often the case that if one does the other does not. Allergies likely fall into the second example, although the identical twin will be more likely to have the same problem than the other siblings in the family because not only is the environment the same, the DNA is too.
East Haven High School in CT (10th grade student)
269
Is there a definite link between autism and genetics?
     Kimberly Barr, M.S.: My work involves content development and mangement for our Regional Genetics Web site and development of education materials for Kaiser members and providers. Another aspect to my job includes outreach to the community, which has included lectures to medical students. Autism is a condition that affects a persons ability to communicate and interact with others, but it turns out there are many different causes for autism. We have found several genes that make it more likely for someone to have autism. So we do know that a person's genetic make-up plays a part in whether or not they develop autism.
Lexington High School in SC (9th grade student)
270
How selective can you be when picking genes for your child?
     Jennifer Sloan, M.S., Ph.D., C.G.C.: I am involved in genetic counseling, as well as studying the very rare metabolic condition Methylmalonic Acidemia (MMA), and the more common condition Neurofibromatosis Type I (NF1). Great question. There are ethical issues around picking genes for your child. Currently if there is a genetic disorder in the family, it is possible to do a procedure called preimplantation genetic diagnosis to select an embryo that is not affected with the condition. You can read more about PGD here http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Preimplantation_genetic_diagnosis.Other than a known genetic condition in the family, it is not currently possible to pick genes for your child.
East Haven High School in CT (10th grade student)
271
What are some recent discoveries in DNA and DNA transferring?
     Michael Dougherty, PhD: I'm the director of education for the American Society of Human Genetics. I help to educate people about the importance and role of genetics in their lives. Since the human genome was completed, there are so many, just in humans alone, that it's hard to list them. We have discovered many genes that influence complex diseases, such as diabetes and cancer; that single genes can code for multiple proteins; that we can produce human proteins in other species, such as plants and microbes.
Yukon High School in OK (12th grade student)
272
How do you get involved in genetic research? What degree would encompass genetic research?
     Mary Schueler, Ph.D.: I compare the DNA sequence of essential chromosomal regions from multiple primates to define functional changes that have occurred during evolution. There are many paths to genetic research. An undergraduate degree in science can lead to a job in biotech research or laboratory research in academia. In order to direct the research, a graduate degree is typically required. This can be a masters degree or PhD in science but can also be a medical degree. Many doctors at larger centers see patients and conduct research.
Yukon High School in OK (12th grade student)
273
can endangered species be cloned without harm to them
     Jonathan Gitlin, Ph.D.: I keep abreast of developments in the field of genomics and genetics, and the policy implications of those developments. I conduct analyses on programs undertaken by NHGRI and prepare reports that are used by the institute, the Department of Health and Human Services, and members of Congress for determining future research priorities and for funding. The science of cloning is still in its infancy, with very few successes, so currently it would not be possible. Even if it were, there are two major problems that would have to be overcome. Firstly, using adult DNA as the starting point for cloning with seems to result in the clones having much shorter lifespans than would be expected, which we believe is due to damage to proteins that are associated with DNA called telomeres. Secondly, recreating an entire species by cloning a small number of individuals would mean that the gene pool for that species would be very limited. This would result in a high number of inherited diseases, which would be less than optimal.
Yukon High School in OK (12th grade student)
274
I am interested in pursuing a career in genetics can you explain to me what you guys do for work?
     Eric Green, M.D., Ph.D.: My research areas include: mapping, sequencing, and comparing eukaryotic genomes; using genome sequencing to study the genetic basis of human diseases. There are lots of different ways you could work in the field of genetics. You could: Get a job working in a genetics laboratory. Become a genetic counselor. Get a PhD and become a genetics researcher. Get an MD and become a medical geneticist. Become a computer scientist and help us interpret information about our genomes. The field of genetics has a huge tent, and we need many talented people to come join us in this ever-growing field.
East Haven High School in CT (10th grade student)
275
Is there any advise that you would give to those students taking the AP Biology exam?
     Michael Dougherty, PhD: I'm the director of education for the American Society of Human Genetics. I help to educate people about the importance and role of genetics in their lives. I think my only advice would be to study hard.
Yukon High School in OK (teacher)
276
Does DNA play a role in zoology?
     Mary Schueler, Ph.D.: I compare the DNA sequence of essential chromosomal regions from multiple primates to define functional changes that have occurred during evolution. DNA plays a role in all biology. DNA is in the cells of all living organisms. Bacteria, yeasts, fungi, fish, plants and mammals all have DNA.
Yukon High School in OK (12th grade student)
277
If you have a surrogate mother, what are the chances that the surrogate's dna will mix with the baby's?
     Janice Berliner, M.S., C.G.C.: I am a cancer genetic counselor, performing genetic risk assessment and counseling for cancer patients and those at risk for cancer. I'm not too familiar with this; I think the likelihood is fairly high that the blood of the two individuals will mix, in the sense that the cells might touch each other, but I don't think the DNA itself (inside the cells) will mix. Does that make sense?
Yukon High School in OK (12th grade student)
278
Is there evidence or the potential for evidence on understanding or determining one's intelligence (or intellectual potential) by merely looking at their genes?
     Eric Green, M.D., Ph.D.: My research areas include: mapping, sequencing, and comparing eukaryotic genomes; using genome sequencing to study the genetic basis of human diseases. Intelligence is a complicated concept, with many things contributing to one's intelligence (genetics, environment, nutrition, schooling, etc.). Genes play a role, but these other factors are critically important as well. Meanwhile, we really don't know know which genes are the critical ones, and there are likely hundreds or more that are relevant. In short, we are no where near being able to look at someone's genes and say anything intelligent about their intelligence.
American History HS in NJ (teacher)
279
East Haven High School in CT (10th grade student)
280
How do you find cures for diseases with DNA?
     Dale Lea, R.N., M.P.H., C.G.C., F.A.A.N.: I developing genetics, health education and community involvement programs and resources, and translate genetic and genomic information for the public. There are a number of ways that DNA is being used to gain more information about diseases, so treatments can be tailored to a specific individual with that disease. This area of research is called pharmacogenomics. To actually cure disease with DNA is in early phases of research.
Pittsburgh CAPA in PA (9th grade student)
281
At what age of a baby in their mother's stomach can the doctors genetically change the baby's traits?
     Elizabeth Kramer, C.G.C.: I am a prenatal genetic counselor in a busy perinatal practice in the Washington, D.C. area. I see many different types of high-risk prenatal patients on a daily basis. There is currently no way to change any of the baby's genetic traits while a woman is pregnant, or after a baby is born. Traits are there from the time a baby is conceived and cannot be changed.
East Haven High School in CT (10th grade student)
282
Is there DNA in feces? If I leave some in a flaming bag on my neighbors porch, could they trace it back to me?
     Jonathan Gitlin, Ph.D.: I keep abreast of developments in the field of genomics and genetics, and the policy implications of those developments. I conduct analyses on programs undertaken by NHGRI and prepare reports that are used by the institute, the Department of Health and Human Services, and members of Congress for determining future research priorities and for funding. It is likely that you would leave behind DNA evidence, whether it be in the contents of the bag or from handling the bag. Perhaps it would be better to leave them a note instead.
Charles DuMarr in OH (8th grade student)
283
I saw GINA got passed in 2008. What took so long for it to be passed?
     Barry H. Thompson, M.D., M.S.: As Medical Director at AMCG, I am responsible for activities such as professional practices, clinical guidelines, and ethical aspects of clinical genetics. Unfortunately, there is no one reason that GINA was introduced and debated for thirteen years. A large group of advocacy groups supported this beneficial legislation, but the "wheels of government" move slowly. Discrimination against individuals, in terms of employment, insurance, etc., would seem an obvious problem - and something that would not be tolerable. We should celebrate GINA's passage, even after a long delay. For the whole chronology, take a look at: http://www.genome.gov/24519851.
Frank in CT ()
284
Why do people have DNA?
     Eric Green, M.D., Ph.D.: My research areas include: mapping, sequencing, and comparing eukaryotic genomes; using genome sequencing to study the genetic basis of human diseases. All living organisms have DNA-- is it the instruction book for all cells. Without DNA, a cell could not survive, divide, etc.
Shikellamy High School in PA (9th grade student)
285
can you splice an adult human with specific strands of dna to make it smarter,faster, and stronger
     Elizabeth Kramer, C.G.C.: I am a prenatal genetic counselor in a busy perinatal practice in the Washington, D.C. area. I see many different types of high-risk prenatal patients on a daily basis. There is no way to change the genetics of a human at this time. Gene therapy has been tried, but it is being studied to treat life-threatening diseases, rather than to change people's traits.
Yukon High School in OK (12th grade student)
286
What causes people to be left handed?
     Dale Lea, R.N., M.P.H., C.G.C., F.A.A.N.: I developing genetics, health education and community involvement programs and resources, and translate genetic and genomic information for the public. In 2007, researchers discovered a gene related to left-handedness. Environmental factors also come into play.
Yukon High School in OK (12th grade student)
287
What part of hair is used to match a DNA sample?
     Jennifer Sloan, M.S., Ph.D., C.G.C.: I am involved in genetic counseling, as well as studying the very rare metabolic condition Methylmalonic Acidemia (MMA), and the more common condition Neurofibromatosis Type I (NF1). Thanks for your question. The root of a hair contains cells that are used for DNA analysis. Generally DNA analysis of hair is used in forensic science.
Trafalgar School For Girls (10th grade student)
288
If my mom has brown eyes, and my dad has blue eyes, how did i get green eyes when all of my brothers and sisters have brown eyes?
     Janice Berliner, M.S., C.G.C.: I am a cancer genetic counselor, performing genetic risk assessment and counseling for cancer patients and those at risk for cancer. Brown eyes are dominant over blue, so I'm not surprised that your siblings have brown eyes from your mom. The fact that yours are green (lucky you!) probably means that your mom has green recessives that she gave to you that also were dominant over your father's blue. Blue is recessive to everything; possible that your mother has a green recessive gene from somewhere in her gene pool? Think back to some of her relatives and see where that might have come from! If everyone is brown, you might not figure it out, but it's there somewhere!
Creative and Performing Arts High School in PA (9th grade student)
289
How close are you guys to discovering how to clone humans?
     Barry H. Thompson, M.D., M.S.: As Medical Director at AMCG, I am responsible for activities such as professional practices, clinical guidelines, and ethical aspects of clinical genetics. Cloning a human is not possible or permissible at this time - cloning a human is judged by scientists to be unethical.
East Haven High School in CT (10th grade student)
290
Creative and Performing Arts High School in PA (9th grade student)
291
Molecular biology is progressively modifying premises and methods of medical action. From this starting point, how would you re-formulate the question regarding the aims of medicine?
     Jonathan Gitlin, Ph.D.: I keep abreast of developments in the field of genomics and genetics, and the policy implications of those developments. I conduct analyses on programs undertaken by NHGRI and prepare reports that are used by the institute, the Department of Health and Human Services, and members of Congress for determining future research priorities and for funding. It is true that advances in molecular biology have refined our understanding of biological processes, but I think the underlying aims of medicine remain the same.
Alexa Jessie, Clara,Lisa:D in CA (10th grade student)
292
How do you read the genetic code for DNA?
     Eric Green, M.D., Ph.D.: My research areas include: mapping, sequencing, and comparing eukaryotic genomes; using genome sequencing to study the genetic basis of human diseases. 'Reading the genetic code for DNA' is called DNA sequencing. There are now multiple different techniques for sequencing DNA-- in fact, developing new methods for DNA sequencing is one of the 'hottest' areas in genomics. Each method is actually quite complicated, but involves reading the DNA one letter (or base) at a time.
Creative and Performing Arts High School in PA (9th grade student)
293
if i put two non same animals together could i make a new one?
     Michael Dougherty, PhD: I'm the director of education for the American Society of Human Genetics. I help to educate people about the importance and role of genetics in their lives. In some cases, yes. A male lion mated with a female tiger can produce a hybrid liger. In most cases, offspring from matings between different species are not fertile--that is, they cannot themselves reproduce (for example, a mule). Some ligers, however, are fertile.
East Haven High School in CT (10th grade teacher)
294
What does an epidemologist do?
     Dale Lea, R.N., M.P.H., C.G.C., F.A.A.N.: I developing genetics, health education and community involvement programs and resources, and translate genetic and genomic information for the public. Epidemiologists study the frequency and distribution of diseases within human populations and environments. They measure the incidence of disease occurrence and relate it to different characteristics of populations and environments. Epidemiologists perform research, education, and public health practice in universities, government agencies, international organizations, and private companies.
Yukon High School in OK (12th grade student)
295
What is the current research on brain cell reproduction?
     Kimberly Barr, M.S.: My work involves content development and mangement for our Regional Genetics Web site and development of education materials for Kaiser members and providers. Another aspect to my job includes outreach to the community, which has included lectures to medical students. For a long time, scientist believed that the cells in the brain could not regenerate. About 10 years ago, it was discovered that new cell growth in the brain actually does happen during adult life. We are still trying to understand more about this process and how it might be useful for individuals with brain injuries.
Wantagh High School in NY (10th grade student)
296
What do you believe about stem cell research? Do you think that it is moral or not?
     Barry H. Thompson, M.D., M.S.: As Medical Director at AMCG, I am responsible for activities such as professional practices, clinical guidelines, and ethical aspects of clinical genetics. My personal beliefs are not germane to our discussion today. As you clearly know, their is a great deal of debate about right and wrong regarding stem cell research. Before that discussion ends, science well may have provided scientists with a means to achieve the same results without utilization of stem cells.
Yukon High School in OK (12th grade student)
297
Why are there so many letters in the human genome?
     Mary Schueler, Ph.D.: I compare the DNA sequence of essential chromosomal regions from multiple primates to define functional changes that have occurred during evolution. We are currently still determining what all of the letters do in the genome. Right now, we think that only about 5% of the DNA letters are used to make proteins. There is a large percentage of DNA letters that perform structural functions like folding the DNA and making sure chromosomes move properly during cell division. There are still other letters that are used by proteins to control when genes are used and when they are turned off. Other DNA letters are used to make RNA molecules that never make proteins but instead perform other functions in the cell. Cells are very busy places and need the DNA to provide for many functions.
Creative and Performing Arts High School in PA (9th grade student)
298
is aspergers syndrome a genetic disease?
     Janice Berliner, M.S., C.G.C.: I am a cancer genetic counselor, performing genetic risk assessment and counseling for cancer patients and those at risk for cancer. Funny that you should ask. I'm writing a book chapter on that now. It can have genetic components, yes. However, it is very difficult to know just what is genetic about it. Most people with any type of autism spectrum disorder (ASD) are the only ones in their families, so it doesn't look hereditary. However, there are many cases where there are multiple siblings. It's a very active area of research, but so far only about 10% seem to be strictly genetic, where the rest don't seem to be connected to other disorders that we can pinpoint.
Elise + Alex (10th grade student)
299
In the last few episodes of 24, Jack Bauer was infected with a nerve disease containing prions. Could this pathogen be passed on the Chloe or Tony Almeida?
     Michael Dougherty, PhD: I'm the director of education for the American Society of Human Genetics. I help to educate people about the importance and role of genetics in their lives. Prions are protein-only infectious agents, and they can be contagious. However, Chloe would probably need to eat Jack's brain to become infected. In England, more than 100 people have died from eating beef from cattle that were infected with a particular prion.
RadPharm Polytechnical in NJ (10th grade teacher)
300
How long did it take you to learn what u know?
     Jennifer Sloan, M.S., Ph.D., C.G.C.: I am involved in genetic counseling, as well as studying the very rare metabolic condition Methylmalonic Acidemia (MMA), and the more common condition Neurofibromatosis Type I (NF1). In the genetics field we are learning every day! But for my education, I attended 4 years of college, 6 years of graduate school to obtain my PhD and 2 years to get a MS in genetic counseling.
East Haven High School in CT (10th grade student)
301
What is the concept of gene splicing?
     Jonathan Gitlin, Ph.D.: I keep abreast of developments in the field of genomics and genetics, and the policy implications of those developments. I conduct analyses on programs undertaken by NHGRI and prepare reports that are used by the institute, the Department of Health and Human Services, and members of Congress for determining future research priorities and for funding. Gene splicing involves using enzymes to cut DNA strands apart so that new sequences can be inserted into the break. Scientists make use of this technique to make transgenic animals or plants, either for research, or to make crops that are resistant to pests, drought, or even rice that contains lots of extra vitamins.
East Haven High School in CT (10th grade student)
302
Why is genetics so important to want to learn about?
     Eric Green, M.D., Ph.D.: My research areas include: mapping, sequencing, and comparing eukaryotic genomes; using genome sequencing to study the genetic basis of human diseases. Because genetics holds many answers about the underlying causes of human disease. Also, recent advances in genetics and genomics (including completion of the Human Genome Project) have been so profound that exciting new opportunities exist for diagnosing and perhaps eventually treating human disease. This is a very exciting field to learn about and to work in.
Creative and Performing Arts High School in PA (9th grade student)
303
I am contemplating cloning my cat. What is your standpoint on cloning?
     Barry H. Thompson, M.D., M.S.: As Medical Director at AMCG, I am responsible for activities such as professional practices, clinical guidelines, and ethical aspects of clinical genetics. How I may feel about cloning is not the point. Perhaps, you will want to solicit an opinion from your cat! Seriously, cloning is a very involved procedure, and one about which we do not have a complete understanding. Therefore, it's not a procedure that you would want to attempt.
Yukon High School in OK (12th grade student)
304
when do we use biology in everyday life?
     Kimberly Barr, M.S.: My work involves content development and mangement for our Regional Genetics Web site and development of education materials for Kaiser members and providers. Another aspect to my job includes outreach to the community, which has included lectures to medical students. Biology covers so many areas that it's hard to answer that question. Your understanding of biology can be helpful everytime you eat food and your body digests it; when you exercise and your body moves; as you watch the seasons change in your yard. Everything around us is a reminder of biology.
East Haven High School in CT (10th grade student)
305
What do genetic counselors do?
     Janice Berliner, M.S., C.G.C.: I am a cancer genetic counselor, performing genetic risk assessment and counseling for cancer patients and those at risk for cancer. Complicated question! We translate complex genetic and medical information into terms for patients to understand and use to make decisions for their health. We obtain family history information to assess risks for individuals regarding their own health and that of their family members, and provide supportive counseling throughout the process. Genetic counselors can work in prenatal, pediatric, cancer and adult settings, may work in commercial laboratories, research facilities and many other specialty areas. It is a vital and growing profession!
Yukon High School in OK (12th grade student)
306
When scientists say that the mom carried the gene of Tay Sacs, does that mean she had it when she was younger and survived? Or does it mean that someone in her family passed that gene on to her, and her child was effected with that mutation?
     Dale Lea, R.N., M.P.H., C.G.C., F.A.A.N.: I developing genetics, health education and community involvement programs and resources, and translate genetic and genomic information for the public. When scientists say that the mom carried the gene for Tay-Sachs disease, it means that she has a gene causing Tay-Sachs on one of her chromosomes and a normally functioning gene on her other chromosome. Either her mother or father could have passed the gene on to her. So she was born carrying a gene for Tay-Sachs disease. Tay-Sachs disease is inherited in an autosomal recessive manner. This means that both the mother and father of an affected child carry a gene for Tay-Sachs disease. Their chance, in each pregnancy, to have a child with Tay-Sachs disease is 1 in 4.
PGH CAPA in PA (9th grade student)
307
I WOULD LIKE TO FIND THE BEST VISUAL SOURCES AVAIBLE FOR DNA, LIKE ILLUSTRATIONS, HIGH-RES IMAGERY AND OTHER TOOLS THAT CAN BE OF USE IN THE ARTIST STUDIO. I AM ALSO RESEARCHING ON HOW THE STRUCTURE OF DNA IS RELATED TO OTHER STRUCTURES IN THE UNIVERSE AT ALL SCALES (A FRACTAL CONNECTION MAYBE?) I AM A VISUAL ARTIST WORKING ON THE SUBJECT OF ART AND SCIENCE FOR THE PAST 20 YEARS.
     Michael Dougherty, PhD: I'm the director of education for the American Society of Human Genetics. I help to educate people about the importance and role of genetics in their lives. There are a number of images related to DNA structure and genetics throughout the genome.gov site. Hopefully, some of those will get you started in the right direction.
MAURICIO ZARATE VISUAL ARTIST in FL (Higher Education )
308
Is it possible to alter a persons DNA?
     Jonathan Gitlin, Ph.D.: I keep abreast of developments in the field of genomics and genetics, and the policy implications of those developments. I conduct analyses on programs undertaken by NHGRI and prepare reports that are used by the institute, the Department of Health and Human Services, and members of Congress for determining future research priorities and for funding. Yes, it is possible to alter someone's DNA. Research is currently underway for treatments for a number of diseases that seeks to introduce new genes to replace or augment the patients' faulty copy. We call this gene therapy.
Pittsburgh CAPA in PA (9th grade student)
309
East Haven High School in CT (10th grade student)
310
If my mother's adoptive father has diabetes, what are the chances I will get it?
     Janice Berliner, M.S., C.G.C.: I am a cancer genetic counselor, performing genetic risk assessment and counseling for cancer patients and those at risk for cancer. no greater than anyone else's in the population. You can't inherit something from someone who is not related to you. But if he has bad eating habits that helped contribute to his diabetes, don't copy them!!
Yukon High School in OK (12th grade student)
311
Is there any gene which can reduce human tension?
     Eric Green, M.D., Ph.D.: My research areas include: mapping, sequencing, and comparing eukaryotic genomes; using genome sequencing to study the genetic basis of human diseases. I will assume you meant hypertension (high blood pressure). It turns out that there are many genes involved in regulating a person's blood pressure. Mutations in those genes can cause either high or low blood pressure-- depending on the gene and mutation. Blood pressure is a good example of a characteristic (trait) that involves the actions of multiple genes.
SMV Center for Biotechnology, Nagpur (teacher)
312
Is it possible for a human and an animal to make a baby?
     Janice Berliner, M.S., C.G.C.: I am a cancer genetic counselor, performing genetic risk assessment and counseling for cancer patients and those at risk for cancer. I really don't know. I suppose it is theoretically possible if the animal is genetically pretty close to humans, such as some monkey species. Not really my field of expertise!
Carissa, Kristin & Shaina (: in CT (10th grade student)
313
Are humans currently being used in gene therapy experimental trials? If so what kind of potential does this treatment have?
     Dale Lea, R.N., M.P.H., C.G.C., F.A.A.N.: I developing genetics, health education and community involvement programs and resources, and translate genetic and genomic information for the public. Using humans in gene therapy trials has been controversial. It has huge potential for treatment, but the risks of gene therapy in humans need to be balanced with the outcome.
Lexington High School in SC (10th grade student)
314
Is it possible to use genetic engineering to create an eternally healthy human being?
     Barry H. Thompson, M.D., M.S.: As Medical Director at AMCG, I am responsible for activities such as professional practices, clinical guidelines, and ethical aspects of clinical genetics. Theoretically, it may be possible to use genetic engineering to make major improvements in health - and even longevity - in humans. At present, though, understanding of the complexities of the genome and its expression in humans is in its infancy; and improvements such as you envision are long, long in the future.
East Haven High School in CT (10th grade teacher)

Information - Moderator Now joining us is Elizabeth Kramer, a genetic counselor who specializes in prenatal issues.


316
Is it possible for two people with albinism to have a child without albinism?
     Jennifer Sloan, M.S., Ph.D., C.G.C.: I am involved in genetic counseling, as well as studying the very rare metabolic condition Methylmalonic Acidemia (MMA), and the more common condition Neurofibromatosis Type I (NF1). Thanks for your question. Yes it is possible for two individuals with albinism to have a child that does not have albinism but it depends on what type of albinism each person has. There are many genes for albinism and they can follow different inheritance patterns.
Shikellamy High School in PA (9th grade student)
317
With the great potential for genetic engineering, what concerns are there with the possible polygenic effects of a laboratory engineered gene?
     Michael Dougherty, PhD: I'm the director of education for the American Society of Human Genetics. I help to educate people about the importance and role of genetics in their lives. I think you mean pleiotropic effects, which refers to the fact that a single gene can have multiple effects on phenotype. Polygenic refers to the fact that multiple genes can contribute to a single phenotype. The fact that engineered genes are expressed in lab animals restricts the gene and its effects to controlled environment.
Scranton Preparatory School in PA (10th grade student)
318
I am a high school teacher. What are some of the most current topics of genetic research that I should be keeping my eyes on in order to keep my students better informed?
     Eric Green, M.D., Ph.D.: My research areas include: mapping, sequencing, and comparing eukaryotic genomes; using genome sequencing to study the genetic basis of human diseases. 'Hot topics' in genetics research: (1) new DNA sequencing technologies making it possible to sequence a human genome in hours rather than months; (2) ushering in the era of personalized medicine; (3) human microbiome studies, learning about the microbes that live in and on us by sequencing DNA isolated from different body sites; and (4) gaining highly detailed views of evolution by sequencing the genomes of many different vertebrates.
Branford High School in CT (teacher)
319
Does genetics dictate artistic and intellectual talents?
     Barry H. Thompson, M.D., M.S.: As Medical Director at AMCG, I am responsible for activities such as professional practices, clinical guidelines, and ethical aspects of clinical genetics. One's genetic make-up governs almost every aspect of human life, including probably artistic and intellectual talents. You recognize that human lives are impacted by both genetics and environment.
Scranton Preparatory School in PA (10th grade student)
320
What kind of functional aspects are related with junk DNA?
     Jonathan Gitlin, Ph.D.: I keep abreast of developments in the field of genomics and genetics, and the policy implications of those developments. I conduct analyses on programs undertaken by NHGRI and prepare reports that are used by the institute, the Department of Health and Human Services, and members of Congress for determining future research priorities and for funding. We don't really call non-coding DNA 'junk' anymore, as scientists are finding out that there's a lot of important stuff in there. Some regions, close to genes, are promoters that help regulate whether individual genes get turned on or off. Other regions can be important for structure, and others are remnants of ancient retroviruses.
Sindhu Mahavidyalaya , Nagpur, INDIA (teacher)
321
Do ghosts have DNA? In the movie Ghostbusters, Slimer secretes an ectoplasmic trail. Perhaps studying this ectoplasm could help us discover the gene that causes death?
     Michael Dougherty, PhD: I'm the director of education for the American Society of Human Genetics. I help to educate people about the importance and role of genetics in their lives. Ghosts do not exist, but even without them we know something about genes that influence cell death and the senescence of organisms. Check out "apoptosis" to learn about cell death.
Rudy Van Cleef in NJ (8th grade student)
322
A brook trout and a rainbow trout make a tiger trout, but two tiger trouts can not reproduce. Why is that?
     Mary Schueler, Ph.D.: I compare the DNA sequence of essential chromosomal regions from multiple primates to define functional changes that have occurred during evolution. We know of a few examples of this in nature. A horse and a donkey can produce a mule but that mule cannot breed with a horse a donkey or a mule. Two muntjac species can produce offspring but those offspring cannot reproduce. We believe this is a result of speciation in progress. When two related organisms can no longer produce viable offspring, the species become reproductively isolated. The mechanism of this infertility is not known for sure but could involve an inability for the two different cell types to cooperate in the cell divisions required to produce germ cells. The hybrid species may not be able to produce eggs or sperm.
East Haven High School in CT (10th grade student)
323
Cancer has a genetic link. Do you think that a cure to cancer will come from manipulation of genes or from research into new treatments, like nanotechnology which may be used to target cancer cells while leaving healthy tissue alone?
     Janice Berliner, M.S., C.G.C.: I am a cancer genetic counselor, performing genetic risk assessment and counseling for cancer patients and those at risk for cancer. To a large degree this is already being done. We do target cancer cells while leaving healthy tissue alone, at least as best we can. This is what newer forms of radiation are all about. We beam the radiation very closely to the tumor bed with laser-thin beams, leaving the surrounding tissue alone, for example. Or we can implant radioactive seeds into a prostate tumor to radiate it from within. We also have newer techniques that, in some cases, can use a person's DNA makeup to know whether a certain chemotherapy will work, so that we don't give harmful drugs if they won't help. Or so that we know which drugs to give. We're getting there.
Yukon High School in OK (12th grade student)
324
Shikellamy High School in PA (9th grade student)
325
Can DNA and genetic engeneiring cure AIDS or cancer?
     Elizabeth Kramer, C.G.C.: I am a prenatal genetic counselor in a busy perinatal practice in the Washington, D.C. area. I see many different types of high-risk prenatal patients on a daily basis. Researchers are studying several ways to try to treat cancer using gene therapy. Researchers have tried things like replacing missing or altered genes (which can cause cancer) with healthy genes. Substituting working copies of these genes may be used to treat cancer. Researchers are also looking at ways to help a patient's immune system respond to cancer and the insertion of genes into cancer cells to make them more receptive to various treatments like chemotherapy. There are also current clinical trials studying gene therapy in the treatment of AIDS. For example, an "anti-HIV gene" which targets and inactivates HIV genes is being studied.
East Haven High School in CT (10th grade student)
326
Why was there opposition to the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act? Doesn't eliminating discrimination benefit everyone?
     Barry H. Thompson, M.D., M.S.: As Medical Director at AMCG, I am responsible for activities such as professional practices, clinical guidelines, and ethical aspects of clinical genetics. As with all legislation, the process may be involved and lengthy. Almost everyone would agree that discrimination is wrong, but there were many complexities and many opinions involved in consideration of what would seem a simpler issue. This fact sheet (http://www.genome.gov/10002328 provides a good explanation.
Allie in FL ()
327
I am enrolled in junior-high National Science Olympiad in Biology, and I am a 7th grader. Is there any increasing chance of genetic questions despite genotype and phenotype showing up?
     Jonathan Gitlin, Ph.D.: I keep abreast of developments in the field of genomics and genetics, and the policy implications of those developments. I conduct analyses on programs undertaken by NHGRI and prepare reports that are used by the institute, the Department of Health and Human Services, and members of Congress for determining future research priorities and for funding. It's always possible. You could look on the internet for questions from past competitions. You might want to read through the answers for all the other questions we're answering today just to be prepared. Good luck!
Anthro-Therizino (7th grade student)
328
I don't think my question has been answered yet(maybe it has been, but I can,t find it), but how close are you guys to being able to clone a human?
     Michael Dougherty, PhD: I'm the director of education for the American Society of Human Genetics. I help to educate people about the importance and role of genetics in their lives. In the U.S. and many other countries, there are regulations that make it illegal to clone humans. Identical twins are nature's clones.
East Haven High School in CT (10th grade student)
329
As cultures blend, is there a concern for the loss of genetic variability and that implication on survivability in natural selection?
     Kimberly Barr, M.S.: My work involves content development and mangement for our Regional Genetics Web site and development of education materials for Kaiser members and providers. Another aspect to my job includes outreach to the community, which has included lectures to medical students. "Culture" is a concept of how a particular group thinks and acts. DNA studies do not show that there are separate genetic subgroups in modern humans. In other words, there is no unique genetic difference to distinguish one cultural group from another. Genetic variability is an aspect of humans as a group and is not lost by cultural mixing.
Scranton Preparatory School in PA (10th grade student)
330
What is the latest discovery in the attempt to cure Type II Diabetes?
     Greg Feero, M.D., Ph.D.: I work to help make emerging genetic technologies more accessible to health professionals. The most exciting discoveries in the last few years have been around the identification of new associations between areas in the genome and the presence of type II diabetes through genome-wide association studies. Each of these new associations provide information about how type II diabetes occurs, and possibly also ways to prevent or treat type II diabetes more effectively.
East Haven High School in CT (teacher)
331
is there any particular reason why the DNA structure forms a double helix?
     Mary Schueler, Ph.D.: I compare the DNA sequence of essential chromosomal regions from multiple primates to define functional changes that have occurred during evolution. The structure of DNA is a result of its chemical make up. There are forces acting on the molecule from solution and from within the molecule itself. Positive and negative charges in the molecule interact with the solution to create folding and bending. The helix is held together through the center by bonds created between the bases A,T,G and C. It is the combination of these and other forces that make the double helix the most compatible with the typical environment of DNA within the cell.
Pittsburgh CAPA in PA (9th grade student)
332
Are family diseases inevitably passed down through DNA, or is there a way to stop it?
     Janice Berliner, M.S., C.G.C.: I am a cancer genetic counselor, performing genetic risk assessment and counseling for cancer patients and those at risk for cancer. Well, sometimes the way to stop it is to know about it. If we know what gene is involved in a certain disease, then can test affected individuals for mutations within that gene, then we can test for any mutation we find in unaffected relatives to see what they might be at risk for. Then we can provide risk assessment, treatments, prevention strategies, etc to those people. For example, if there is a lot of breast cancer in your family, and an affected person is tested for mutations within her BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes, and a mutation is found, then others in the family can be tested for it. Anyone who tests positive can then have really careful screening, preventative medications and/or preventative surgeries to vastly improve her likelihood of not having cancer or finding it early. Alternatively, if there is a known disease in the family and a couple wants to have a child without that disease, prenatal or even preimplantation genetic diagnosis is available.
PGH CAPA in PA (9th grade student)
333
Can DNA alter someone's personality and cause them to behave differently than others? Or does DNA just alternate someone's appearance? -adam
     Barry H. Thompson, M.D., M.S.: As Medical Director at AMCG, I am responsible for activities such as professional practices, clinical guidelines, and ethical aspects of clinical genetics. One's genetic make-up (genome) affects almost every aspect of one's life, so it isn't limited to appearance (phenotype) alone. Both genetics and environment interact, at many levels, to result in what we view as the individual human.
Creative and Performing Arts High School in PA (9th grade student)
334
do we have the tools to make a perfect human
     Janice Berliner, M.S., C.G.C.: I am a cancer genetic counselor, performing genetic risk assessment and counseling for cancer patients and those at risk for cancer. No. And what does perfect mean anyway? There would be an infinite number of answers to the question. And our ethics could never keep up with that!
East Haven High School in CT (10th grade student)

Information - Moderator Now joining us is Dr. Greg Feero. He is currently the Chief of the Genomic Healthcare Branch at the National Human Genome Research Institute (NHGRI).


336
If all living things have DNA, then do flower and plants have DNA too?
     Mary Schueler, Ph.D.: I compare the DNA sequence of essential chromosomal regions from multiple primates to define functional changes that have occurred during evolution. Yes, flowers and plants also have DNA. Gregor Mendel discovered the fundamental aspects of genetics using the garden pea plant. The Genome Project is sequencing the DNA of weeds, rice, grasses and trees.
Shikellamy High School in PA (9th grade student)
337
Does every organism on earth have DNA?
     Michael Dougherty, PhD: I'm the director of education for the American Society of Human Genetics. I help to educate people about the importance and role of genetics in their lives. The simple answer is yes. In fact, the universal use of DNA as the genetic material represents molecular evidence for evolution. However, your question may actually be a bit more complicated. Are viruses organisms? Most biologists say no, but they do have many of the attributes of living organisms (but not all). Many viruses use RNA as their genetic material.
Pittsburgh CAPA in PA (9th grade student)
338
How long can a human being live while being perfectly healthy his or her whole life?
     Greg Feero, M.D., Ph.D.: I work to help make emerging genetic technologies more accessible to health professionals. No one really knows the answer to this question. This is a very interesting question and the genetics of aging well is an active area of research. One approach to answering this question is to look at the genes of individuals that have lived a very long time, and to compare their genes to look for areas held in common.
Matt Bradley in CT (10th grade student)
339
Can you control the sex of your baby at birth?
     Janice Berliner, M.S., C.G.C.: I am a cancer genetic counselor, performing genetic risk assessment and counseling for cancer patients and those at risk for cancer. Not at birth - do you mean before that? If someone would like to have a child of one sex or the other, there are some labs that claim to be able to spin down semen samples in a centrifuge and separate the cells with X chromosomes from those with Y chromosomes to use in in-vitro fertilization. I don't know what their success rate is.
Shikellamy High School in PA (9th grade student)
340
Obviously, we have made great strides and we are in our "golden age of science" during this time. I feel now that almost nothing is impossible including time travel, cloning of humans, and other things. But what are some things that will be possible from decoding DNA besides curing diseases and giving parents a look into their child's molecular destinies?
     Elizabeth Kramer, C.G.C.: I am a prenatal genetic counselor in a busy perinatal practice in the Washington, D.C. area. I see many different types of high-risk prenatal patients on a daily basis. Decoding the human genome will definitely help doctors learn how to better diagnose and treat diseases which, for a long time, we could not treat or cure. They will also be able to help prevent diseases that people are at risk for by knowing which genes they carry and are developing medications that will work better in certain people than in others, based on their genetics. It is also thought that the Human Genome Project will be able to be used to explore new energy sources (biofuels), to study evolution and environmental factors in disease and pollution and forensics.
Creative and Performing Arts High School in PA (9th grade student)
341
Do you think it is okay to abort a baby that will have a genetic disorder or will have some sort of disorder?
     Barry H. Thompson, M.D., M.S.: As Medical Director at AMCG, I am responsible for activities such as professional practices, clinical guidelines, and ethical aspects of clinical genetics. My personal opinion is not appropriate to our discussion. Tough choices, such as termination of any pregnancy, for any reason, are for the parent(s) to make. They involve all manner of considerations - religious beliefs, personal values, medical procedures, and long-term effects.
Yukon High School in OK (12th grade student)
342
Is it possible that I can inherit a gene that activates cancer within my body?
     Janice Berliner, M.S., C.G.C.: I am a cancer genetic counselor, performing genetic risk assessment and counseling for cancer patients and those at risk for cancer. yes, but only if it is in your family already. If you have a substantial family history of cancers that fit a pattern indicative of a specific cancer syndrome, you may be at increased risk for cancer at some point in your life. It might be helpful for you to contact a genetic counselor in your local area and tell him/her about your family history of cancer and ask what, if anything, you should think about.
Yukon High School in OK (12th grade student)
343
Can you take DNA from the brain?
     Mary Schueler, Ph.D.: I compare the DNA sequence of essential chromosomal regions from multiple primates to define functional changes that have occurred during evolution. A brain biopsy would yield cells that contain all of the DNA of the organism. Not all of the genes of an organism are used in brain cells but they are all in each cell.
East Haven High School in CT (10th grade student)
344
How can epigenetics studies help understand the genetic basis of behaviour, intellect and human health?
     Jonathan Gitlin, Ph.D.: I keep abreast of developments in the field of genomics and genetics, and the policy implications of those developments. I conduct analyses on programs undertaken by NHGRI and prepare reports that are used by the institute, the Department of Health and Human Services, and members of Congress for determining future research priorities and for funding. Scientists are learning that not all our traits are just down to the genes in our DNA, and that environmental factors can affect how we develop. This would be the 'nurture' to DNA's 'nature.' Traits such as behavior or intellect have some genes involved with them, but the influence can be very subtle, with many complex interactions between multiple epigenetic factors coming in to play. However, with enough research one day we may be able to understand how factors that affect development during pregnancy or childhood affect such traits.
SMV Center for Biotechnology, Nagpur (teacher)
345
I'm 14. Would I be able to get tested to see if I'm a carrier of genetic diseases like Tay Sacs, ALD, etc.? What would the process of getting my DNA read be like?
     Jennifer Sloan, M.S., Ph.D., C.G.C.: I am involved in genetic counseling, as well as studying the very rare metabolic condition Methylmalonic Acidemia (MMA), and the more common condition Neurofibromatosis Type I (NF1). Yes it is possible for you to have carrier testing however we like to wait until someone is 18 or considering having a family. Carrier testing is available for specific genetic disorders like cystic fibrosis, sickle cell anemia, tay sachs etc. We are all carriers for 10+ conditions. Most carrier testing is offered based on a person ethnic background and also family history. Testing for all genes is not clinically available. The process of getting your DNA read involves sending a blood sample to a laboratory.
Creative and Performing Arts High School in PA (9th grade student)
346
Can u ever make a mix of genes with a human to make people more resistant to weather and other factors?
     Michael Dougherty, PhD: I'm the director of education for the American Society of Human Genetics. I help to educate people about the importance and role of genetics in their lives. Are you referring to the raincoat gene? No, seriously, it would be virtually impossible to engineer humans to be resistant to weather changes. And I'm not sure why you would want to. It's a lot easier to carry an umbrella or put on a coat.
East Haven High School in CT (10th grade student)
347
I want to take up genetic counseling as my career. What techniques should i master ?
     Kimberly Barr, M.S.: My work involves content development and mangement for our Regional Genetics Web site and development of education materials for Kaiser members and providers. Another aspect to my job includes outreach to the community, which has included lectures to medical students. Genetic counseling involves combining a knowlege of genetics with the ability to convey that information to individuals. Another important aspect is addressing the complicated emotional impact associated with genetic disorders. I encourage you to visit the National Society of Genetic Counselors website at www.nsgc.org to learn more about what it takes to become a genetic counseling.
Bhanu , Nagpur, INDIA (teacher)
348
How close are scientist to curing cancer?
     Janice Berliner, M.S., C.G.C.: I am a cancer genetic counselor, performing genetic risk assessment and counseling for cancer patients and those at risk for cancer. some cancers are already being cured on a regular basis. Some aren't, of course. It depends upon what stage the cancer is found, what treatment is offered, and how the body responds to that treatment. Every case is different, but we're making great strides. The key is catching it early, so regular check-ups and listening to your body are very important.
Shikellamy High School in PA (9th grade teacher)
349
Can cloning be done with humans someday to maybe clone a person who died?
     Jonathan Gitlin, Ph.D.: I keep abreast of developments in the field of genomics and genetics, and the policy implications of those developments. I conduct analyses on programs undertaken by NHGRI and prepare reports that are used by the institute, the Department of Health and Human Services, and members of Congress for determining future research priorities and for funding. From a purely scientific perspective, yes, this may well be possible in the future. However, there are many ethical and moral problems associated with human cloning that make it unlikely.
East Haven High School in CT (10th grade student)
350
What is the least common eye color? Is gray a common eye color?
     Elizabeth Kramer, C.G.C.: I am a prenatal genetic counselor in a busy perinatal practice in the Washington, D.C. area. I see many different types of high-risk prenatal patients on a daily basis. Green is the least common eye color. But, others that are uncommon are gray, blue and hazel. Brown is the most common.
Pennsville Memorial High School in NJ (10th grade student)
351
Is there a specific gene where genetic disorders are more common?
     Greg Feero, M.D., Ph.D.: I work to help make emerging genetic technologies more accessible to health professionals. While in many cases mutations in one gene cause a single disease - there are example where different mutations in the same gene can cause diseases that are quite different. Occasionally even the same mutation in the same gene can cause different symptoms in different people. This is probably the result of interactions between that mutation and other genes and the environment that differ between individuals.
Yukon High School in OK (12th grade student)
352
Is it possible for two white people to have a different color offspring though genetic engineering?
     Kimberly Barr, M.S.: My work involves content development and mangement for our Regional Genetics Web site and development of education materials for Kaiser members and providers. Another aspect to my job includes outreach to the community, which has included lectures to medical students. No. Genetically engineered offspring is only possible in science fiction at this time.
East Haven High School in CT (10th grade student)
353
When a species in endangered, why can't doctors take their traits out and produce more of that species so they don't become endangered?
     Mary Schueler, Ph.D.: I compare the DNA sequence of essential chromosomal regions from multiple primates to define functional changes that have occurred during evolution. There are efforts to preserve DNA and cell lines from many species. At this time, we are not able to engineer new organisms of a species on a scale that could preserve it from extinction.
East Haven High School in CT (10th grade student)
354
IF you have two parents with two different types of cancers is it possible for you to get both of the cancers
     Janice Berliner, M.S., C.G.C.: I am a cancer genetic counselor, performing genetic risk assessment and counseling for cancer patients and those at risk for cancer. It is, but the vast majority of cancers are not hereditary, so the greatest likelihood is that you won't have cancer at all. Look at the family histories on both sides to see what else is there, but don't connect your father's side with your mother's side unless they are related to each other by blood. Their cancers don't add to each other to put you over a threshold of risk. It's not one plus one equals two. It's just one here and one there, and together they are just a coincidence. You may be at slightly higher risk than the average person to get either of their cancers, simply by being their child, but the specifics I can't provide because I don't have more details. You may want to consult a genetic counselor in your area. Try nsgc.org and click on "find a counselor."
Shikellamy High School in PA (9th grade student)
355
Is it possible for a DNA strand to fail to split apart? If so, what happens?
     Ed Ramos, Ph.D: Science Policy Analyst and Research Fellow There are certain environmental factors that can damage DNA such as ultraviolet light. UV light can cause mutations in the DNA that can lead to diseases such as cancer. There are instances in which DNA breakage occurs spontaneously. Cells with this type of genomic instability sometimes enter programmed cell death called apoptosis.
Shikellamy High School in PA (9th grade student)
356
did you ever wonder why you like biology so much?
     Michael Dougherty, PhD: I'm the director of education for the American Society of Human Genetics. I help to educate people about the importance and role of genetics in their lives. I know why I like biology so much. It's the most fascinating science, in my opinion, because it deals with molecules, cells, tissues, whole organisms, and even populations. In reality, biologists are doing chemistry, math, and physics as well, and with all the data coming from various genome projects, now we do a lot of computer science.
East Haven High School in CT (10th grade student)
357
My ferret just died. Is there anyway that I can save part of his body or DNA so that he could be cloned in the future?
     Mary Schueler, Ph.D.: I compare the DNA sequence of essential chromosomal regions from multiple primates to define functional changes that have occurred during evolution. There are private companies that provide this service for a large fee. The success of such an experiment is not guaranteed. Successful cloning experiments like Dolly are quite rare events.
University of Iowa Dental School in IA (Higher Education student)
358
Is DNA needed for our existence
     Janice Berliner, M.S., C.G.C.: I am a cancer genetic counselor, performing genetic risk assessment and counseling for cancer patients and those at risk for cancer. absolutely. All life, from the tiniest bacteria to human beings are made of DNA and we wouldn't be what we are without it. That's what makes us human, and it makes us different from each other too.
Shikellamy High School in PA (9th grade student)
359
Is it possible that a one-fourth black person and a white person can have a baby with white skin.
     Barry H. Thompson, M.D., M.S.: As Medical Director at AMCG, I am responsible for activities such as professional practices, clinical guidelines, and ethical aspects of clinical genetics. What is "white" or "black" skin in terms of science? Skin color is highly variable, even among brothers and sisters, isn't it? Skin color is the result of many genes, interacting with one another; therefore it's impossible to forecast absolutely skin color in the case about which you inquire. It is possible that the baby's skin would be lighter than the skin of the "black" parent and darker than the skin of the "white" parent.
Yukon High School in OK (12th grade student)
360
Shikellamy High School in PA (9th grade student)
361
Is Crohn's Disease completely genetic or can it be developed over time?
     Greg Feero, M.D., Ph.D.: I work to help make emerging genetic technologies more accessible to health professionals. Crohn's disease is not fully understood, but both genes and environmental factors play a role in triggering the disorder. Most often Crohn's does develop over time; people aren't born with the disease but develop symptoms later in life.
Lexington High School in SC (10th grade student)
362
Will there every be gene therapies used since the patient died U of Pa.?
     Jennifer Sloan, M.S., Ph.D., C.G.C.: I am involved in genetic counseling, as well as studying the very rare metabolic condition Methylmalonic Acidemia (MMA), and the more common condition Neurofibromatosis Type I (NF1). Gene therapy is currently being used for some conditions, such as severe combined immunodeficiency (SCID). Since the patient in Philadelphia died, doctors and hospitals are being more cautious with gene therapy trials.
Pennsville Memorial High School in NJ (10th grade student)
363
Do you think we will ever be able to fully cure cancer?
     Janice Berliner, M.S., C.G.C.: I am a cancer genetic counselor, performing genetic risk assessment and counseling for cancer patients and those at risk for cancer. I hope so, but my honest answer is I really don't know.
Yukon High School in OK (12th grade student)
364
Is it possible to add and deduct genes from a sperm to get the baby you dreamed of?
     Jennifer Sloan, M.S., Ph.D., C.G.C.: I am involved in genetic counseling, as well as studying the very rare metabolic condition Methylmalonic Acidemia (MMA), and the more common condition Neurofibromatosis Type I (NF1). It is not possible to change the genetic makeup of sperm.
East Haven High School in CT (10th grade student)
365
Is it possible to determine things such as how tall a person is going to be before the person is born?
     Elizabeth Kramer, C.G.C.: I am a prenatal genetic counselor in a busy perinatal practice in the Washington, D.C. area. I see many different types of high-risk prenatal patients on a daily basis. No. At this point, it is not possible to predict traits which are multifactorial (genetics plus environmental factors). However, it is possible to get a general idea about a child's height based on their parents' heights and other family members.
St. Lawrence Seminary in WI (10th grade student)
366
What made you begin to like science?
     Greg Feero, M.D., Ph.D.: I work to help make emerging genetic technologies more accessible to health professionals. I always spent a lot of time outside and love nature. Somewhere in grade school I began to think genetics and molecular biology was really interesting - it started at about the time enzymes that cut DNA made early genetic engineering of bacteria possible.... and took off from there.
East Haven High School in CT (10th grade student)
367
East Haven High School in CT (10th grade student)
368
How is a baby born with extra body parts?
     Janice Berliner, M.S., C.G.C.: I am a cancer genetic counselor, performing genetic risk assessment and counseling for cancer patients and those at risk for cancer. There are a lot of things that can go wrong in early fetal development, and if the body's instructions are wrong in terms of the cell differentiation, extra things can grow. I don't really know the details; it's not my area of expertise - sorry!
East Haven High School in CT (10th grade student)
369
Is it a possibility that cancer is linked to DNA?
     Kimberly Barr, M.S.: My work involves content development and mangement for our Regional Genetics Web site and development of education materials for Kaiser members and providers. Another aspect to my job includes outreach to the community, which has included lectures to medical students. All cancer is genetic and is due to changes in the DNA that are important for the control of cell growth. However, most cancer that happens is due to random DNA errors that start in a single cell of the body. These random DNA errors are the kind of genetic problems that do not run in families.
Yukon High School in OK (12th grade student)
370
How is stem cell research connected to genetic research?
     Michael Dougherty, PhD: I'm the director of education for the American Society of Human Genetics. I help to educate people about the importance and role of genetics in their lives. Stem cell research strives to understand how a generic cell can become a specialized cell, for example, how one progenitor blood cell can differentiate into the many different types of blood cells found in the body. Genetic research is much, much broader.
Yukon High School in OK (12th grade student)
371
What is more important nature or nurture?
     Barry H. Thompson, M.D., M.S.: As Medical Director at AMCG, I am responsible for activities such as professional practices, clinical guidelines, and ethical aspects of clinical genetics. Both nature (genetics/genomics) and environment interact, in complex ways. Therefore, it's not possible to say which is "more important". In some human conditions, the impact of genetics is recognized as paramount; in others, environmental influences strongly impact genetic expression.
Yukon High School in OK (12th grade student)
372
Shikellamy High School in PA (9th grade student)
373
Can you get your genes tested to see what your child will look like?
     Janice Berliner, M.S., C.G.C.: I am a cancer genetic counselor, performing genetic risk assessment and counseling for cancer patients and those at risk for cancer. no. you know what you look like - those are your genes. You'd have to know what the other parent looks like too. That gives you some idea. Then, if it were even possible, you'd need to test the baby's genes, not your own. By the time you were doing that, you'd know!
East Haven High School in CT (10th grade student)
374
If a process similar to that used in cloning was used to remove a nucleus from an egg and the nuclei from two sperm were inserted, why could it not form a viable baby?
     Jonathan Gitlin, Ph.D.: I keep abreast of developments in the field of genomics and genetics, and the policy implications of those developments. I conduct analyses on programs undertaken by NHGRI and prepare reports that are used by the institute, the Department of Health and Human Services, and members of Congress for determining future research priorities and for funding. It is highly unlikely that such a creation would be viable. Firstly, if both sperm cells had Y chromosomes, the resulting fetus would not be viable. Secondly, successful fetal development requires genes from both maternal and paternal DNA; the absence of maternal DNA might result in all the tissue developing into placenta, for example.
East Haven High School in CT (10th grade student)
375
I am confused about the forming of RNA and the process of transcription and translation. Could you help me out by explaining it to me in a easy to understand way?
     Mary Schueler, Ph.D.: I compare the DNA sequence of essential chromosomal regions from multiple primates to define functional changes that have occurred during evolution. Exons and introns of DNA are copied by an enzyme to create a separate RNA molecule. This RNA molecule is transported out of the nucleus where it is processed. It is edited to remove intron sequences and the resulting RNA that contains only exon sequences is translated to become a protein.
Shikellamy High School in PA (9th grade student)
376
Welcome, Jennifer Sloan-- it is very interisting that u are what u are... please type back.
     Jennifer Sloan, M.S., Ph.D., C.G.C.: I am involved in genetic counseling, as well as studying the very rare metabolic condition Methylmalonic Acidemia (MMA), and the more common condition Neurofibromatosis Type I (NF1). Yes if you are asking about my educational background. I am one of the few genetic counselors that have laboratory training.
East Haven High School in CT (10th grade student)
377
You know what really grinds my gears? I think its so annoying when people pronounce telophase like tea-low-phase instead of tell-low-phase. How do you say it?
     Ed Ramos, Ph.D: Science Policy Analyst and Research Fellow There are a lot of science-related words that are pronounced differently by different people. I say tell-low-phase but there are a number of researchers that say it differently. Both are acceptable.
Samuel Thomas John in UT (11th grade student)
378
Do you find that the extensive ethical policies that are constantly being updated to include more and more, are hindering the process of the advances of science?
     Barry H. Thompson, M.D., M.S.: As Medical Director at AMCG, I am responsible for activities such as professional practices, clinical guidelines, and ethical aspects of clinical genetics. "Hinder" is a subjective term, is it not? It's critically important in science to give appropriate consideration to ethical issues, even if such consideration is time-consuming and difficult to achieve.
Yukon High School in OK (12th grade student)
379
Do you think Marine Biology is a good major for college? And what can you do with that degree?
     Michael Dougherty, PhD: I'm the director of education for the American Society of Human Genetics. I help to educate people about the importance and role of genetics in their lives. I think that's a fine major. With a bachelor's degree, you could be a research associate at a marine biological lab, an environmental research station, or even work at a marine theme park, such as Sea World. If you get a higher degree, such as PhD, you could direct your own research in beautiful places, such as the Caribbean.
Yukon High School in OK (12th grade student)
380
can you really make a healthy baby using genetic engineering
     Janice Berliner, M.S., C.G.C.: I am a cancer genetic counselor, performing genetic risk assessment and counseling for cancer patients and those at risk for cancer. No. There are way too many genes (probably 20,000) in every cell to control. Add to that the fact that a good number of them haven't been discovered yet and we don't know how to tell if they're normal. Add to that that everybody's definition of healthy or normal is different, and you've got a problem. We don't have the technology, and our ethics could never catch up with the science anyway!
East Haven High School in CT (10th grade student)
381
If a parent is mentally challenged and has sex. Is it possible for the son to be deformed?
     Kimberly Barr, M.S.: My work involves content development and mangement for our Regional Genetics Web site and development of education materials for Kaiser members and providers. Another aspect to my job includes outreach to the community, which has included lectures to medical students. It depends on the reason for the parent's mental challenge. There are many different reasons for mental disabilities. Not all of these reasons are genetic or hereditary. Even when there is a genetic cause for the disability, the risk for the child to have related problems depends on the specific condition.
East Haven High School in CT (10th grade student)
382
Is there DNA in dinosaur fossils?
     Janice Berliner, M.S., C.G.C.: I am a cancer genetic counselor, performing genetic risk assessment and counseling for cancer patients and those at risk for cancer. I imagine so, if it's properly preserved and not degraded or contaminated.
East Haven High School in CT (10th grade student)
383
What is thhe function of 'junk DNA'? why was it so named?
     Janice Berliner, M.S., C.G.C.: I am a cancer genetic counselor, performing genetic risk assessment and counseling for cancer patients and those at risk for cancer. I think it was so named because it doesn't have a function (or we haven't figured it out yet).
Northwestern High School in MD (11th grade student)
384
Why are we not doing gene therapy yet? We have the technology but is it that we can't get over the hurdle to use human subjects?
     Greg Feero, M.D., Ph.D.: I work to help make emerging genetic technologies more accessible to health professionals. Gene therapy is happening in people for a variety of rare conditions in carefully controlled experiment throughout the world. So far the results have been mixed. For a handful of disorders like severe combined immunodeficiency disorder (SCID) gene therapy appears to be successful. Others like cystic fibrosis have proven much harder to treat using gene therapy. Because of some instances of gene therapy approaches that appear to have caused patients harm, cautious studies are still very important to better understand how to safely use gene therapy in humans.
Mid-Praire High School in WI (12th grade student)

Information - Moderator Now joining us is Joe McInerney. He's the Director of Emeritus at the National Coalition for Health Professional Education in Genetics.


386
I have read that telomere shortening is importance for prevention of cancer and has been shown to increase the risk of cancer. How will molecular biology solve this issue. Nat Genet 26:114,2000 and JNCL 95:1211, 2003
     Jonathan Gitlin, Ph.D.: I keep abreast of developments in the field of genomics and genetics, and the policy implications of those developments. I conduct analyses on programs undertaken by NHGRI and prepare reports that are used by the institute, the Department of Health and Human Services, and members of Congress for determining future research priorities and for funding. Not all cancers are the same, so it might be expected that what works for some doesn't work for others. Advances in basic research on the functions of telomeres, on enzymes called telomerases that create telomeres, and on molecules that inhibit those enzymes might well unlock secrets on how to treat different forms of cancer.
Wellman High School in WI (12th grade student)
387
We hear about mammoths/mummies being found all the time. Where do they find viable DNA on these decomposed or preserved individuals?
     Mary Schueler, Ph.D.: I compare the DNA sequence of essential chromosomal regions from multiple primates to define functional changes that have occurred during evolution. Often the only remaining soft tissue remains are bone marrow or the pulp of teeth. Even these are quite difficult to extract DNA do not always yield usable DNA samples. DNA from these sources is often degraded and contaminated with the DNA of microorganisms.
University of Iowa Dental School in IA (12th grade student)
388
Is a major in biology a good pre-med major?
     Greg Feero, M.D., Ph.D.: I work to help make emerging genetic technologies more accessible to health professionals. Yes, as long as you study genetics along the way!!!
Yukon High School in OK (12th grade student)
389
PGH CAPA in PA (9th grade student)
390
Because of genetically engineering, will we one day become a "superhuman"?
     Barry H. Thompson, M.D., M.S.: As Medical Director at AMCG, I am responsible for activities such as professional practices, clinical guidelines, and ethical aspects of clinical genetics. Unlikely that we'll be "superhumans", but we'll likely benefit greatly from the application of genetics/genomics to humans and their health. Interaction among the many components of the genome and the environment about us is very complex and, as yet, poorly understood. Even with better understanding in the future, it makes it unlikely that you'd characterize future humans as "superhumans".
East Haven High School in CT (10th grade student)

Information - Moderator Our next chatter is Judith Benkendorf from the American College of Medical Genetics. Her group represents medical genetics physicians and genetic lab directors in the United States.


392
How can babies be born with missing body parts, like arms, or legs, or even fingers or toes?
     Elizabeth Kramer, C.G.C.: I am a prenatal genetic counselor in a busy perinatal practice in the Washington, D.C. area. I see many different types of high-risk prenatal patients on a daily basis. The exact cause of limb reduction defects (missing arms, or legs, or even fingers or toes) is unknown. There are several possible causes including exposure of the mother to chemicals, viruses, certain medications or tobacco smoking while she is pregnant. There are also some genetic syndromes which can cause limb defects, other birth defects as well as amniotic bands (limbs can get trapped in fibrous bands while in the womb which can cause limb defects).
East Haven High School in CT (10th grade student)
393
Yukon High School in OK (12th grade student)
394
How can interested and qualified students get involved in genetic research at the National Institutes of Health?
     Sarah Harding, MPH: I guide NHGRI's community outreach efforts. I have master's degree in public health. That's a great question! There are a number of different training opportunities for students at different stages in their careers. There is a great summer internship program, as well as Intramural Training programs for students right out of college. For more information, go to http://www.training.nih.gov/
Northwestern High School in MD (11th grade student)
395
How long is DNA in a human? In a vampire bat?
     Michael Dougherty, PhD: I'm the director of education for the American Society of Human Genetics. I help to educate people about the importance and role of genetics in their lives. The DNA from one cell, when stretched end to end, is about two meters. If you were to take all the DNA from every cell in the human body and stretch it end to end, it would reach to the sun and back roughly a dozen times. With that information, see if you can calculate the approximate number of cells in the human body. A project to sequence the little brown bat is underway with funding from the National Human Genome Research Institute. Vampire bats will probably have many similarities with the brown bat species.
Archmere Academy in PA (9th grade student)
396
What are some types of things scientists do to make DNA Visible? ~Maria
     Ed Ramos, Ph.D: Science Policy Analyst and Research Fellow There are certain molecules that bind to DNA that also fluoresce, which can be detected by fluorescence microscopes. There other "staining" chemicals that can be seen through normal light microscopy as well.
PGH CAPA in PA (9th grade student)
397
Shikellamy High School in PA (9th grade student)
398
Can genes allow us to regenerate a body part?
     Greg Feero, M.D., Ph.D.: I work to help make emerging genetic technologies more accessible to health professionals. This is an active area of research. Stems cells have the potential to create new cell types that might be used to treat various disease, and possibly even to regenerate at least parts of organs. However we are a very long way from growing complex organs like a kidney, heart or an arm or leg. Interestingly frogs and salamanders can re-grow limbs - perhaps we fully understand how this happens in the not too distant future.
St. Lawrence Seminary in WI (10th grade student)
399
What makes humans similar to the fruit fly and yeast? I thought we were closer to monkeys?
     Barry H. Thompson, M.D., M.S.: As Medical Director at AMCG, I am responsible for activities such as professional practices, clinical guidelines, and ethical aspects of clinical genetics. There are many portions of the genomes of "higher organisms" that are shared, so that humans do have significant sequences that are identical/similar to those in other animals, such as fruit flies. At the same time, the portion of the genome shared with monkeys is greater than that shared with flies.
PGH CAPA in PA (9th grade student)
400
Can you be a scientist and still have a life? I have heard during gradschool and post docs you devote your life to science and can no longer spend time with family. Is this true?
     Mary Schueler, Ph.D.: I compare the DNA sequence of essential chromosomal regions from multiple primates to define functional changes that have occurred during evolution. Like most jobs, work/life balance can be very difficult to achieve. Graduate school tends to be a time of hard work and many hours in the lab. Often, other graduate students in your program become your social group. The hours that you are in the lab during graduate school and post doctoral fellowships can be flexible so there is usually a way to make things work.
Mid-Praire High School in IA (12th grade student)
401
-Is it possible for two caucasian people to have an african baby.?
     Kimberly Barr, M.S.: My work involves content development and mangement for our Regional Genetics Web site and development of education materials for Kaiser members and providers. Another aspect to my job includes outreach to the community, which has included lectures to medical students. Usually a child's physical traits are a blending of traits from both parents. However, this may not always look like we expect it to.
Shikellamy High School in PA (9th grade student)
402
Jawn Fraunburgur in RI (6th grade student)
403
Is Lou Gehrig's disease genetic? How did he not see it coming?
     Jennifer Sloan, M.S., Ph.D., C.G.C.: I am involved in genetic counseling, as well as studying the very rare metabolic condition Methylmalonic Acidemia (MMA), and the more common condition Neurofibromatosis Type I (NF1). Great question. Lou Gehrig's disease is also called Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis or ALS. It is a devastating neurodegenerative condition where people lose the ability to use their muscles. Only 10% of ALS patients have inherited ALS from a parent. In these patients, there can be mistakes in a gene called SOD1. Most people with ALS (90%) did not inherit the condition from a parent. So it is more likely that Lou Gehrig was the only person in his family with ALS. You can read more about the genetics of ALS here http://www.alsa.org/.
RECIST Institue in SD (8th grade student)
404
Can we introduce certain genes from animals, into the human genetic code?
     Michael Dougherty, PhD: I'm the director of education for the American Society of Human Genetics. I help to educate people about the importance and role of genetics in their lives. We could, in theory, introduce genes from nonhuman animals into humans, but there is no reason to do this. If you were doing gene therapy and wanted to replace a defective human gene, it would make much more sense to replace it with a normal human gene.
East Haven High School in CT (10th grade student)
405
what is one of the ultmate goals of genetic research
     Joe McInerney, M.S.: I was the executive director of NCHPEG, where he developed educational materials in human genetics and genetic medicine for a broad range of health professionals. One goal of genetic research is to uncover the contributions of genes to health and disease, including common diseases such as cancer, heart disease, and mental illness.
Northwestern High School in MD (11th grade student)
406
East Haven High School in CT (10th grade student)
407
Mid-Praire High School in WI (12th grade student)
408
Is today the only day to have this chat?
     Sarah Harding, MPH: I guide NHGRI's community outreach efforts. I have master's degree in public health. Yes, today is our annual DNA Day chat. So send us your questions soon!
East Haven High School in CT (10th grade student)
409
Is it necessary for every member of the family to go for gene testing for diabetes, thalassemia, arthritis, etc. so that in future familial genetic disorders can be prevented ?
     Judith Benkendorf, M.S., C.G.C: I work for a professional organization that represents the medical genetics physicians and genetic testing lab directors in the United States. I help write guidelines that become standards of care for the practice of genetic medicine, and engage in public health, public policy and educational activities that ensure that people have access to high quality genetic services. Genetic testing is most effective when done in the context of ones family history. In fact, medical geneticists often refer the family history as the best (and cheapest) genetic test available. By starting with your family history we can determine what genetic test are relevant for you and which family members should be tested. Do you know your genetic family history?
B.B.S.P.Nag SMVCBT, Nagpur, INDIA (teacher)
410
East Haven High School in CT (10th grade student)
411
What DNA studies are going on in the molecular diagnosis of chlamydia and mycoplasma diseases?
     Greg Feero, M.D., Ph.D.: I work to help make emerging genetic technologies more accessible to health professionals. In fact, routine screening for chlamydia and gonorrhea in the doctors office now makes use of tests that work by looking for the DNA of those organisms in the sample. Many other infections diseases can be diagnosed using similar technologies and new tests are coming available for use in clinics at a much faster pace than 10 years ago.
B.B.S.P.Nag SMVCBT, Nagpur, INDIA (teacher)
412
How much DNA is in 1 sperm and egg cell?
     Mary Schueler, Ph.D.: I compare the DNA sequence of essential chromosomal regions from multiple primates to define functional changes that have occurred during evolution. The sperm cell and the egg cell that come together to form the zygote each contain half the normal amount of DNA. There are 46 chromosomes in a typical human cell. The sperm and the egg each contain only 23 - one copy of chromosomes 1 through 22 plus an X or a Y. Egg cells can only contain an X but the sperm can contain an X or a Y.
East Haven High School in CT (10th grade student)
413
Can you please explain what centromeres are? I know they are the constricted parts of chromosomes, but what do they do?
     Ed Ramos, Ph.D: Science Policy Analyst and Research Fellow Centromeres are extremely important to a cell, especially during cell division. Spindle fibers attach to kinetochores, which are formed on top of centromeres. Spindle fibers help guide them to the resulting sister cells of mitosis or meiosis.
Ben (teacher)
414
is it possible to become pregnant, during your pregnancy of another baby?
     Elizabeth Kramer, C.G.C.: I am a prenatal genetic counselor in a busy perinatal practice in the Washington, D.C. area. I see many different types of high-risk prenatal patients on a daily basis. No, as a woman does not usually ovulate while she is pregnant.
East Haven High School in CT (10th grade student)
415
On Star Trek, a retrovirus caused the crew's introns to be expressed and manifest the phenotypes of their evolutionary ancestors (e.g., Lt. Barclay turned into a spider). Could molecules that regulate gene expression actually make this possible?
     Jonathan Gitlin, Ph.D.: I keep abreast of developments in the field of genomics and genetics, and the policy implications of those developments. I conduct analyses on programs undertaken by NHGRI and prepare reports that are used by the institute, the Department of Health and Human Services, and members of Congress for determining future research priorities and for funding. Perhaps fortunately, this is about as unlikely as building a functional warp drive.
Los Alamos HS in NM (6th grade student)

Information - Moderator Now joining us is Meghan Deeney, a genetic counseling student who is interested in pediatric genetics.


417
I know that a recessive gene can skip on generation but at what point can you assume that trait will NOT occur?
     Janice Berliner, M.S., C.G.C.: I am a cancer genetic counselor, performing genetic risk assessment and counseling for cancer patients and those at risk for cancer. It's not really skipping a generation, it's just not being expressed because the dominant gene its inherited with is being expressed. So the recessive copy can be inherited for any number of generations, and ultimately be expressed when it is inherited by a person who inherits a second recessive copy from his/her other parent and doesn't have a dominant other copy to cover it up. It could be hundreds of generations, theoretically.
Shikellamy High School in PA (9th grade student)
418
Do you think that the project will make humans to perfect?
     Kimberly Barr, M.S.: My work involves content development and mangement for our Regional Genetics Web site and development of education materials for Kaiser members and providers. Another aspect to my job includes outreach to the community, which has included lectures to medical students. First, you'd have to define what "perfect" means. I do believe that the Human Genome Project will have a tremendous impact on improving health, but I don't believe there is an end goal of "perfection" that is trying to be reached.
Creative and Performing Arts High School in PA (9th grade student)
419
All our body cells are having identical DNA, but what makes difference in functionality of cells such that one cell is liver cell and another cell is heart cell? Which biomolecules are responsible for such phenotypic and functionality difference?
     Michael Dougherty, PhD: I'm the director of education for the American Society of Human Genetics. I help to educate people about the importance and role of genetics in their lives. You are correct that the DNA, and thus the genes, are the same in all cells. A liver cell is different from a heart cell because liver-specific genes are expressed in liver cells (but not heart cells) and heart-specific genes are expressed in heart cells (but not liver cells). The way that cells figure out which genes to turn on and off is an area of active research. The molecules that are most important in this process are called transcription factors, proteins that bind DNA.
Sindhu Mahavidyalaya , Nagpur, INDIA (teacher)
420
Can you take the DNA and make a dinosaur clone?
     Janice Berliner, M.S., C.G.C.: I am a cancer genetic counselor, performing genetic risk assessment and counseling for cancer patients and those at risk for cancer. I suppose, theoretically, but you'd have to have an incubator, of sorts, to grow it in. It needs a host uterus, and where are you going to find a mommy dinosaur to grow it in?!!
East Haven High School in CT (10th grade student)
421
It seems like some kids may be smarter than others, and I don't think that some of it has to do with how they apply themselves. Is there possibly like some kind of gene that determines how smart a person is?
     Joe McInerney, M.S.: I was the executive director of NCHPEG, where he developed educational materials in human genetics and genetic medicine for a broad range of health professionals. Intelligence, like all complex human traits, results from a combination of genetic and environmental factors. It is highly unlikely, however, that there is a single gene that determines how smart a person is. It is more likely that there is large number of genes involved.
East Haven High School in CT (10th grade student)
422
So if it were not illegal to clone a human the scientist did not have any ethical dilemmas to do so, do we have the current technology to do so?
     Jonathan Gitlin, Ph.D.: I keep abreast of developments in the field of genomics and genetics, and the policy implications of those developments. I conduct analyses on programs undertaken by NHGRI and prepare reports that are used by the institute, the Department of Health and Human Services, and members of Congress for determining future research priorities and for funding. Yes, possibly. Despite the legal and ethical issues with human reproductive cloning, there are some scientists out there who are trying to do just that, although so far there have been no successful attempts verified.
University of Iowa in WI (12th grade student)
423
who contribute the most genetics ?
     Judith Benkendorf, M.S., C.G.C: I work for a professional organization that represents the medical genetics physicians and genetic testing lab directors in the United States. I help write guidelines that become standards of care for the practice of genetic medicine, and engage in public health, public policy and educational activities that ensure that people have access to high quality genetic services. Many scientists have made important contributions to the field of genetics, beginning in the 19th century. All of the DNA Day experts have their favorite genetics hero; do you have a genetics hero? In human reproduction, both biological parents contribute equally to the genetics of their offspring, even if you seem to be more like one of your parents than the other.
Palms Middle School in CA (7th grade student)
424
How do you ensure that after introducing of genes on a virus during gene therapy does not mess up other genes when the viral DNA gets integrated into the human DNA.
     Greg Feero, M.D., Ph.D.: I work to help make emerging genetic technologies more accessible to health professionals. This is a challenging issue for applying gene therapy to treat human disease. In some cases this problem can be avoided by using a virus that does not integrate its DNA into the genome - unfortunately gene expression from this approach doesn't always last. Another way to avoid this problem is to target the virus to integrate in certain places in the genome where they will not cause harm. This issue is under active research.
Thomas Jefferson High School in VA (10th grade student)
425
Is there any way that in the future people can decide if they want to have one baby or twins or triplets?
     Elizabeth Kramer, C.G.C.: I am a prenatal genetic counselor in a busy perinatal practice in the Washington, D.C. area. I see many different types of high-risk prenatal patients on a daily basis. Today, fertility treatments such as medications (which can increase the number of eggs that are released during ovulation) or in-vitro fertilization (where multiple embryos are implanted in a woman's uterus) increase the likelihood that a woman will have twins or triplets. However, there are concerns about implanting more than 2 or 3 embryos because this increases the risks to the mother and to the babies.
Creative and Performing Arts High School in PA (9th grade student)
426
Does picking genes for you child ensure that you'll know everything about them genetically for the future? Ex. Will you know when they'll die or why they'll die?
     Barry H. Thompson, M.D., M.S.: As Medical Director at AMCG, I am responsible for activities such as professional practices, clinical guidelines, and ethical aspects of clinical genetics. No. Even if you could select some of the genes for your offspring, the incomplete nature of our understanding of the human genome and of the complex interaction among genes, extra-genetic, and environment makes it all but impossible to know how genes will be expressed in an individual. At present, humans can make general choices - such as considering hair color - that may, repeat may, have some reasonable expectation of expression in the offspring. And, for certain known disorders (let's say cystic fibrosis), one can recognize, and perhaps reduce, the risk of occurrence in one's offspring, by obtaining information about the genetic make-up of the parents.
Pittsburgh CAPA in PA (9th grade student)
427
Can you tell us a little about the history of DNA Day and how/why it was started?
     Sarah Harding, MPH: I guide NHGRI's community outreach efforts. I have master's degree in public health. Great question! National DNA Day started in 2003, with the completion of the Human Genome Project. This was the international effort to sequence the entire human genome and to identify all 20,000 genes.
Yukon High School in OK (12th grade student)
428
Are there any catastrophic genetic disorders besides Lesch-Nyhan Syndrome caused by mutations on one or even 2 nucleotides ?
     Jennifer Sloan, M.S., Ph.D., C.G.C.: I am involved in genetic counseling, as well as studying the very rare metabolic condition Methylmalonic Acidemia (MMA), and the more common condition Neurofibromatosis Type I (NF1). Thanks for your question. There are thousands of genetic disorders that are caused by mutations in one nucleotide of DNA. Many of these are neurological conditions such as Tay Sachs, Canavan, adrenoleukodystrophy.
Anthro-Therizino (7th grade student)
429
what is DNA day???
     Meghan Deeney, B.S.: I am currently a second year genetic counseling student at Brandeis University in Waltham, MA. I completed my prenatal and cancer genetic counseling internships. My current internship is in pediatric genetic counseling at Children's Hospital Boston. I also work at Genzyme Genetics part-time. National DNA Day, begun in April 2003, celebrates the successful completion of the Human Genome Project and the 50th anniversary of the discovery of DNA's double helix in 1953. Every year, National DNA Day offers an opportunity for students to connect with genetic professionals to learn more about genetic research and career options in the field.
John Wynne in CT (10th grade student)
430
Do you think that we could mutate into something like X-Men with certain abilities?
     Judith Benkendorf, M.S., C.G.C: I work for a professional organization that represents the medical genetics physicians and genetic testing lab directors in the United States. I help write guidelines that become standards of care for the practice of genetic medicine, and engage in public health, public policy and educational activities that ensure that people have access to high quality genetic services. The process of human mutation takes place gradually, and over time. For the species to make a profound change will take centuries. However, as a female geneticist, I'd like to see X-Women have as many abilities as X-Men!
Lexington High School in SC (10th grade student)
431
do you think it would be ever posable to make a dinosaur from old dinosaur's dna
     Jonathan Gitlin, Ph.D.: I keep abreast of developments in the field of genomics and genetics, and the policy implications of those developments. I conduct analyses on programs undertaken by NHGRI and prepare reports that are used by the institute, the Department of Health and Human Services, and members of Congress for determining future research priorities and for funding. Almost certainly not. Ancient DNA can be recovered from fossils - a scientist called Svante Pääbo has been able to get DNA out of neanderthal fossils, but the recovered genetic material is broken into very short fragments (less than 100 base pairs long). By contrast, a complete genome that would be needed for cloning is several billion base pairs long. The recovered neanderthal DNA is about 30,000 years old; DNA from dinosaurs would be 2000 times older than this.
East Haven High School in CT (10th grade student)
432
how many years have u studied biology?
     Ed Ramos, Ph.D: Science Policy Analyst and Research Fellow I have studied science for many years. Typically, a researcher studies for four years at the undergraduate level and four to six years for a Ph.D. After receiving your Ph.D., there is additional training that researchers do such as post-doctoral positions, staff scientist positions, or other types of research fellowships.
East Haven High School in CT (10th grade student)
433
Do you get paid for answering our questions all day?
     Sarah Harding, MPH: I guide NHGRI's community outreach efforts. I have master's degree in public health. Nothing extra, but we are happy to connect to all of you outside of the NIH. It's important for our scientists to be able to communicate with the public.
Creative and Performing Arts High School in PA (9th grade student)
434
Can doctors physcially change the genes of the babies while they're in their parents stomach? Or does it have to be before the child is developed and be picked out before a person is pregnant?
     Elizabeth Kramer, C.G.C.: I am a prenatal genetic counselor in a busy perinatal practice in the Washington, D.C. area. I see many different types of high-risk prenatal patients on a daily basis. There is currently no way to change any of the baby's genetic traits while a woman is pregnant, or after a baby is born. Traits are there from the time a baby is conceived and cannot be changed. There is also no way to "choose" traits for a baby before a baby is conceived. The only way that genetics is being used currently to "select" embryos is through something called "preimplantation genetic diagnosis," which is used only to reduce a couple's risk to have a child with a life-threatening disease that runs in the family.
East Haven High School in CT (10th grade student)
435
Would a degree like microbiology encompass genetic research, if not what degree would you recommend?
     Michael Dougherty, PhD: I'm the director of education for the American Society of Human Genetics. I help to educate people about the importance and role of genetics in their lives. You can study genetics in virtually any area of biology. Depending on their specific interests, microbiologists, zoologists, marine biologists, immunologists, ecologists, and many other biologists engage in genetic research. In fact, there are many engineers, mathematicians, and computer scientists involved too. Genetics is very interdisciplinary.
Yukon High School in OK (12th grade student)
436
Hi, My friend and I are gay. With all the current controversy about homosexuality, has there been any research linking sexual orientation to genes?
     Barry H. Thompson, M.D., M.S.: As Medical Director at AMCG, I am responsible for activities such as professional practices, clinical guidelines, and ethical aspects of clinical genetics. In a very general sense, some studies indicate that there may be a considerable genetic component to sexual orientation. However, there is no known gene for "homosexuality." Sexual orientation, no matter the genetic make-up of an individual, likely is a very complex matter.
Geoffrey Toyes and Jefry Cohen in NJ (Higher Education )
437
What is the difference between a Pathologist and an Epidemologist?
     Greg Feero, M.D., Ph.D.: I work to help make emerging genetic technologies more accessible to health professionals. A pathologist is a medical doctor that specializes in the study of causes of human disease and/or how to test for the presence or absence of those conditions. An epidemiologist may be a researcher or health care professional that studies the associations between diseases and possible causes of disease in populations, usually in order to better understand how to prevent or treat disease. Epidemiologists have to be well trained in mathematics and statistics are very important to their work.
Yukon High School in OK (12th grade student)
439
How does smoking weed when you are pregnant alter your kids DNA?
     Janice Berliner, M.S., C.G.C.: I am a cancer genetic counselor, performing genetic risk assessment and counseling for cancer patients and those at risk for cancer. it doesn't. Smoking, drinking, drugs and medications can affect a pregnancy in many bad ways, but they don't alter the DNA, they alter the embryological development.
East Haven High School in CT (10th grade student)
440
Why are humans so similar to everything? I heard it was because we are a young species. Is that true?
     Joe McInerney, M.S.: I was the executive director of NCHPEG, where he developed educational materials in human genetics and genetic medicine for a broad range of health professionals. Human beings are similar to all other living things because we are related to all other living things through evolution. Humans are very similar to one another genetically in part because Homo sapiens is, indeed, a relatively young species.
Creative and Performing Arts High School in PA (9th grade student)
441
Dear Everyone at NIH, please accept compliments from INDIA, for such a wonderful job of organizing DNA Day and spreading the knowledge every year. We wish you all a very HAPPY DNA DAY 2009. We are also trying to spread your message all across Nagpur, India. We enjoy the conversation with you every year. Thanks a lot.
     Sarah Harding, MPH: I guide NHGRI's community outreach efforts. I have master's degree in public health. Hello Nagpur! We are excited to see you again in the chatroom! Have an excellent DNA Day!
SMV Center for Biotechnology, Nagpur (teacher)
442
If you are called the National "Human" Genome Research Institute, why are you sequencing all those animals?
     Mary Schueler, Ph.D.: I compare the DNA sequence of essential chromosomal regions from multiple primates to define functional changes that have occurred during evolution. We use comparative genomics to learn about the human genome. By comparing the DNA of many species, we can learn what features of the genome are conserved through time and which things are unique to humans. Typically, functionally important parts of the genome, like genes that support basic cellular functions, are conserved. Sometimes, we discover regions that are unique to humans and these are studied as possible links to what makes us different from other creatures. Some species get diseases similar to humans and aspects of their genomes that are conserved with human can narrow the regions studied to find causes for those diseases.
Johnnie in DC ()
443
Has DNA reasearch received significant funding from the new Obama administration?
     Ed Ramos, Ph.D: Science Policy Analyst and Research Fellow Compared to previous years, science research supported by the government has increased.
PS232 in PA (5th grade student)
444
Several members in my father's family have knee problems. Now I have them too. Could this be a genetic trait or just a conincedence?
     Meghan Deeney, B.S.: I am currently a second year genetic counseling student at Brandeis University in Waltham, MA. I completed my prenatal and cancer genetic counseling internships. My current internship is in pediatric genetic counseling at Children's Hospital Boston. I also work at Genzyme Genetics part-time. Without knowing the the exact cause of the knee problems in your family, it is hard to say how, or if, it runs in your family. There are certain traits and conditions that can run in families that are complex, and can be caused by a combination of genetics and the environment. These are called "multifactorial" conditions. The fact that several members of your family have the same symptoms suggests some sort of hereditary component, but it could also be caused by similar activities (like if you are all runners, for instance).
Yukon High School in OK (12th grade student)
445
How does the human genome project help you understand about DNA ?
     Judith Benkendorf, M.S., C.G.C: I work for a professional organization that represents the medical genetics physicians and genetic testing lab directors in the United States. I help write guidelines that become standards of care for the practice of genetic medicine, and engage in public health, public policy and educational activities that ensure that people have access to high quality genetic services. The human genome project has unlocked the mysteries of DNA in many ways. If has made everyone more aware of genetics and DNA, and added to what you are learning in your biology class, reading the newspaper and seeing on TV. Of course, some is fact and some is fantasy. For researchers, it has provided knowledge and tools and hopefully sped up the time of discovery. Finally, for the medical geneticists who are translating genes into health, the Human Genome Project is leading to a better undestanding of good health, illness, and treatment for illness.
Palms Middle School in CA (7th grade student)
446
how small is a gene?
     Michael Dougherty, PhD: I'm the director of education for the American Society of Human Genetics. I help to educate people about the importance and role of genetics in their lives. If you mean linear size, genes are incredibly small--many thousands of times shorter than a millimeter. If you mean length in base pairs, the shortest protein-coding genes are on the order of 200 base pairs. Certain noncoding genes are even shorter, for example tRNA genes are less than 100 base pairs.
East Haven High School in CT (10th grade student)
447
What would happen if I injected my DNA into you?
     Mary Schueler, Ph.D.: I compare the DNA sequence of essential chromosomal regions from multiple primates to define functional changes that have occurred during evolution. My immune system would treat your DNA as it would any other foreign substance. It would clear it with little or no effect to me.
Los Alamos HS in NM (6th grade student)
448
Arrowhead High School in WI (10th grade student)
449
Would it be posable to change our DNA before birth so you never have to go to the bathroom? oh my name is anthony m
     Greg Feero, M.D., Ph.D.: I work to help make emerging genetic technologies more accessible to health professionals. Though going to the bathroom is time consuming - we would die without being able to eliminate waste and impurities from our bodies. The idea of changing DNA before birth has been raised as way to treat a variety of medical conditions. However this is scientifically challenging and raises a number of serious ethical /societal issues that should be considered carefully.
East Haven High School in CT (10th grade student)
450
can anyone get a disease when you use genetic engineering
     Ed Ramos, Ph.D: Science Policy Analyst and Research Fellow There are possibilities of introducing genetic material that could lead to disease. That's pretty much what viruses do!
East Haven High School in CT (10th grade student)
453
How long will it take for you to answer my question?
     Sarah Harding, MPH: I guide NHGRI's community outreach efforts. I have master's degree in public health. Thanks for checking! We are currently receiving hundreds of questions, so we are sorting through as quickly as we can. You can always check back later today or tomorrow to see if we get to your question.
Palms Middle School in CA (7th grade student)
454
Personally, I think that every species is related somehow and everything was born from ONE THING. The real question is, what is this THING? Is it some sort of energy form or atoms and molecules? Where did everything come from? I think no matter what, no matter what scientists work on, there will always be questions left unanswered. -adam
     Joe McInerney, M.S.: I was the executive director of NCHPEG, where he developed educational materials in human genetics and genetic medicine for a broad range of health professionals. Research in evolution demonstrates that all living things are related and share a single, complex history. The question of what the first living thing was is still unanswered and might remain so. One thing that probably was important in the origin of life was the presence of an information molecule such as DNA or RNA that could produce copies of itself.
Creative and Performing Arts High School in PA (9th grade student)
455
how can hair be used to get a dna match w/ someoneelse
     Michael Dougherty, PhD: I'm the director of education for the American Society of Human Genetics. I help to educate people about the importance and role of genetics in their lives. It isn't the hair itself that is used (because hair is made of the protein keratin) but the follicle cell at the base of a hair shaft. DNA from that hair cell can be amplified with PCR, and the DNA sequence can be analyzed. If you have a DNA sample from the second person, you can compare the sequences.
East Haven High School in CT (10th grade student)
456
What is the least common trait a person can have?
     Greg Feero, M.D., Ph.D.: I work to help make emerging genetic technologies more accessible to health professionals. This is a hard question - there are many, many rare diseases that affect only a handful of people across the world. Since our genome is very big and we have lots of room for variations in our genes between individuals, it is possible that a genetic disease could affect only one individual on the entire planet!
Pennsville Memorial High School in NJ (10th grade student)
457
Will President Obama's decision on Stem Cell Research alter in any way, the research at NIH? if so, how?
     Jonathan Gitlin, Ph.D.: I keep abreast of developments in the field of genomics and genetics, and the policy implications of those developments. I conduct analyses on programs undertaken by NHGRI and prepare reports that are used by the institute, the Department of Health and Human Services, and members of Congress for determining future research priorities and for funding. Yes. Thanks to President Obama's executive order, the NIH will be able to fund research on new human embryonic stem cell lines, provided that they conform to the new guidelines that the President instructed us to prepare. Those guidelines have been released for the public to have their say at the following link: http://nihoerextra.nih.gov/stem_cells/add.htm Some things have not changed; the NIH is still prohibited by law from creating new human embryonic stem cell lines, and only cell lines created from embryos that came from reproductive IVF (by a third party) are allowed to be used.
Northwestern High School in MD (11th grade student)
458
Can I get bipolar disorder if my mother has it?
     Kimberly Barr, M.S.: My work involves content development and mangement for our Regional Genetics Web site and development of education materials for Kaiser members and providers. Another aspect to my job includes outreach to the community, which has included lectures to medical students. Bipolar disorder is a complex condition. We still do not have a clear understanding of the cause. Both genetic influences and environmental factors appear to play a role in the development of this condition. Most children whose parent has bipolar disorder do not have the condition, however, the chance is more than it would be for children of parents without the condition. Whenever there is a history of a condition that could have genetic influences, it can be helpful to meet with a genetic counselor to look more carefully at the entire family history.
Pennsville Memorial High School in NJ (10th grade student)
459
If humans are 99.9% identical, WHY does the .1% make such a hug difference?
     Elizabeth Kramer, C.G.C.: I am a prenatal genetic counselor in a busy perinatal practice in the Washington, D.C. area. I see many different types of high-risk prenatal patients on a daily basis. There is more to genetic variation than simply the amount of similarity between humans' genetic information. Gene expression (genes being switched on and off) and environmental factors play a major role in human variation. The other thing to remember is how large the human genome actually is: there are 3+ billion base pairs in the genome, which means that each of us is still 3 million base pairs different than the next person (0.1%).
Shakirah Stephens in PA (9th grade student)
460
If you would mix the DNA of a human and the DNA of an animal what would the out come be?
     Michael Dougherty, PhD: I'm the director of education for the American Society of Human Genetics. I help to educate people about the importance and role of genetics in their lives. First of all, humans are animals, so I think you mean mixing human DNA with the DNA of a nonhuman animal. That would be unethical, illegal, and not really useful.
Shikellamy High School in PA (9th grade student)
461
Do you think DNA perserving is a good idea? Or do you think that we will continue killing off endangered animals with the thought that we can bring them back later?
     Jonathan Gitlin, Ph.D.: I keep abreast of developments in the field of genomics and genetics, and the policy implications of those developments. I conduct analyses on programs undertaken by NHGRI and prepare reports that are used by the institute, the Department of Health and Human Services, and members of Congress for determining future research priorities and for funding. There are two major problems that would have to be overcome. Firstly, using adult DNA as the starting point for cloning with seems to result in the clones having much shorter lifespans than would be expected, which we believe is due to damage to proteins that are associated with DNA called telomeres. Secondly, recreating an entire species by cloning a small number of individuals would mean that the gene pool for that species would be very limited. This would result in a high number of inherited diseases, which would be less than optimal.
Yukon High School in OK (12th grade student)
462
How did you preserve the DNA?
     Ed Ramos, Ph.D: Science Policy Analyst and Research Fellow DNA can be stored in a number of different reagents but the most common is water (very clean and filtered water) and very cold temperatures (e.g., -80 celsius).
Palms Middle School in CA (7th grade student)
463
Are all of the scientists sitting in the same room answering these questions?
     Sarah Harding, MPH: I guide NHGRI's community outreach efforts. I have master's degree in public health. Mostly, yes, though we do have a few 'chatters' who are answering remotely...one will be on from South Dakota in a bit!
St. Lawrence Seminary in WI (10th grade student)
464
Is there a gene that causes anger?
     Joe McInerney, M.S.: I was the executive director of NCHPEG, where he developed educational materials in human genetics and genetic medicine for a broad range of health professionals. Anger is complex emotion that results from biological and environmental factors. It is not likely that there is a single gene that "causes" anger.
East Haven High School in CT (10th grade student)
465
Is there something that can change your DNA?
     Meghan Deeney, B.S.: I am currently a second year genetic counseling student at Brandeis University in Waltham, MA. I completed my prenatal and cancer genetic counseling internships. My current internship is in pediatric genetic counseling at Children's Hospital Boston. I also work at Genzyme Genetics part-time. Great question. We are all born with DNA, which are the instructions that help tell our bodies how to grow and develop. The basic answer to your question is "no," we cannot control or change our DNA. However, there are some environmental factors, such as UV light, X-rays, and harmful chemicals, that can harm our DNA. Scientists are also trying to cure certain diseases using "gene therapy," which is a way to change or add genes to make them work better. However, these experiments are not yet approved for humans in the United States.
Palms Middle School in CA (7th grade student)
466
Do you think that it is good for people to choose genetics to make their children pure?
     Barry H. Thompson, M.D., M.S.: As Medical Director at AMCG, I am responsible for activities such as professional practices, clinical guidelines, and ethical aspects of clinical genetics. "Good" and "pure" are subjective terms. I'd rather have you think of genetics/genomics as an opportunity to improve life and health for individuals. Parents may wish to reduce the likelihood of the occurrence of (genetic) disease in their children or to better understand the risks for certain disorders in those children by assessing their medical family histories. For additional information on family histories and their utility, please these links are helpful:
Pittsburgh CAPA in PA (9th grade student)
467
How do genetic counselors perform prenatal tests? Would it harm the baby?
     Jennifer Sloan, M.S., Ph.D., C.G.C.: I am involved in genetic counseling, as well as studying the very rare metabolic condition Methylmalonic Acidemia (MMA), and the more common condition Neurofibromatosis Type I (NF1). Prenatal testing involves amniocentesis and chorionic villus sampling (CVS), which collects a sample (either fluid from the pregnancy or cells from the placenta) for genetic testing. Genetic counselors usually do not actually perform this testing. Amniocentesis and CVS are done by a physician trained in obstetrics and gynecology and genetics. Genetic counselors talk to the patients considering these procedures about the genetic tests and risks of the procedures. There is a risk of miscarriage with both amniocentesis and CVS.
Yukon High School in OK (12th grade student)
468
How do you find cures for DNA with diseases?
     Elizabeth Kramer, C.G.C.: I am a prenatal genetic counselor in a busy perinatal practice in the Washington, D.C. area. I see many different types of high-risk prenatal patients on a daily basis. There are many ways to use information about DNA to treat/cure diseases. Some examples are: A person's genetic makeup affects how their body breaks down certain medications, so if you look at their genetics, you may be able to pinpoint which drug works better for them. Genetics can affect how someone responds to chemotherapy in cancer treatment. Genome research is also being used in the development of better drugs that are highly effective without causing serious side effects.
Pittsburgh CAPA in PA (9th grade student)
469
What are the consequences if the mtDNA mutates?
     Michael Dougherty, PhD: I'm the director of education for the American Society of Human Genetics. I help to educate people about the importance and role of genetics in their lives. There is a whole class of diseases that result from certain mutations in mitochondrial DNA, for example, myoclonic epilepsy, so mitochondrial DNA is important.
Anthro-Therizino (7th grade student)
470
I've been looking out for news in genetics recently and at a pretty alarming frequency, I've been hearing about the growing ability to alter a newborn's genes, down to height and eye color. At first I thought this was wrong, to tamper with nature. It's a very interesting subject with growing controversy surrounding it, what's your philosophy on this subject, as working geneticists?
     Barry H. Thompson, M.D., M.S.: As Medical Director at AMCG, I am responsible for activities such as professional practices, clinical guidelines, and ethical aspects of clinical genetics. Every geneticist will have his/her opinion on the subject. In general, scientists seek information and an understanding of how this information may impact the individual and humankind. While there has been an exponential increase in our knowledge about and understanding of the human genome in recent years, our understanding remains imperfect. Therefore, ethical considerations (about the information, its uses, and possible benefits and risks) are very important and need to be carefully considered by the individual and our society as a whole.
Wilbur Cross High School in CT (11th grade student)
471
how was dna discovered?
     Mary Schueler, Ph.D.: I compare the DNA sequence of essential chromosomal regions from multiple primates to define functional changes that have occurred during evolution. DNA was discovered in the early 1900s through a series of experiments by different researchers. Like most things in science, major discoveries are the result of data collected by many different scientists using different approaches. Early experiments using maize and viruses hinted at the existence of a nuclear substance responsible for the inheritance of traits. These experiments revived interest in experiments by Gregor Mendel in the 1800's that discovered the ability to control the inheritance of traits in the garden pea plant. Microscopy revealed the first images of chromosomes and the first correct count of the number of human chromosomes in the 1950s. Also in the 50's Rosalind Franklin, Jim Watson and Francis Crick used X-ray crystalography to understand the double helix structure.
Shikellamy High School in PA (9th grade student)
472
Can the chromosomes of a monkey be implanted into a human?
     Michael Dougherty, PhD: I'm the director of education for the American Society of Human Genetics. I help to educate people about the importance and role of genetics in their lives. We don't know because it would be unethical and illegal to do so.
Bronx Academy of Health Careers in NY (student)
473
What are hermaphrodites and is it a genetic disorder?
     Greg Feero, M.D., Ph.D.: I work to help make emerging genetic technologies more accessible to health professionals. Hermaphrodites are organisms that have both male and female reproductive organs. True hermaphrodites can in theory reproduce with need of two individuals. In certain animals, like worms, this is the normal state of being. In humans hermaphrodites are very rare and usually the result of genetic conditions affecting the endocrine system. In humans true hermaphrodites do not occur, they are considered to be partial hermaphrodites.
Palms Middle School in CA (7th grade student)
474
Does your DNA affect your personality?
     Judith Benkendorf, M.S., C.G.C: I work for a professional organization that represents the medical genetics physicians and genetic testing lab directors in the United States. I help write guidelines that become standards of care for the practice of genetic medicine, and engage in public health, public policy and educational activities that ensure that people have access to high quality genetic services. Excellent question! This question has been debated for over a century (as "nature vs. nurture") and even with a better understanding of DNA the debate will continue. We can never get away from the the fact that personality is complex and most likely influenced by genes and environmenton some days more of one than the other. Where did your personality come from, your genes? Your friends? Your interations with the world? Maybe all of the above!
Palms Middle School in CA (7th grade student)
475
What's a designer baby?
     Ed Ramos, Ph.D: Science Policy Analyst and Research Fellow A "designer" baby is a term used to referred to the determination of a baby's genetic makeup through genetic manipulation. There is ongoing debate surrounding the ethics of this practice.
Alexa Jessie, Clara,Lisa:D in CA (10th grade student)
476
What is the percentage of our similarities to other species?
     Jonathan Gitlin, Ph.D.: I keep abreast of developments in the field of genomics and genetics, and the policy implications of those developments. I conduct analyses on programs undertaken by NHGRI and prepare reports that are used by the institute, the Department of Health and Human Services, and members of Congress for determining future research priorities and for funding. The short answer is that it depends! If you mean do humans have the same sorts of genes as deers and cows and owls then yes, almost all human genes have a similar equivalent in other animals. If you compare total DNA sequences with other species though, you might expect about a 70 percent match with a mouse.
Palms Middle School in CA (7th grade student)

Information - Moderator We now have Arjun Prasad, who works in NHGRI's Genome Technology Branch. He studies the genome sequences of different animals.


478
Palms Middle School in CA (7th grade student)
479
Are we very close to cloning humans
     Janice Berliner, M.S., C.G.C.: I am a cancer genetic counselor, performing genetic risk assessment and counseling for cancer patients and those at risk for cancer. I highly doubt it, but it's not my field, so I don't know for sure. I can't imagine the ethics of that, so even if we had the science to do it, I don't think anyone would try it.
Palms Middle School in CA (7th grade student)
480
What are the rarest genetic disorders?
     Janice Berliner, M.S., C.G.C.: I am a cancer genetic counselor, performing genetic risk assessment and counseling for cancer patients and those at risk for cancer. Cool question, but you'd probably need some reference books for that. I don't happen to know off the top of my head.
Anthro-Therizino (7th grade student)
481
Meghan~ I am interesting in becoming a genetic counselor. What do I need to do to achieve that goal?
     Meghan Deeney, B.S.: I am currently a second year genetic counseling student at Brandeis University in Waltham, MA. I completed my prenatal and cancer genetic counseling internships. My current internship is in pediatric genetic counseling at Children's Hospital Boston. I also work at Genzyme Genetics part-time. Thanks for asking! Genetic counselors come from all different educational backgrounds, from science to psychology. Genetic counseling is a master's degree program so you'll have to get a Bachelor's degree first. It is important to do well in undergrad, and participate in the community in some way. In college, it will be helpful to take as many science classes as you can (biology, genetics, chemistry, etc). It will also be important to find a genetic counselor in your community and ask if you can observe them for a day or two, to make sure you are really interested in the profession. The National Society of Genetic Counselors (NSGC) website is a great resource. They have a link called "how to become a genetic counselor." http://www.nsgc.org/career/howtobe.cfm You can look at the program websites to see the different requirements. You can also find genetic counselors in your area. Keep motivated and you'll do great! Good Luck.
Branford High School in CT (10th grade student)
482
Do you ever sit around your labs yelling, "1.21 GIGWATTS" with the other scientists as an homage to the greatest scientist ever, Dr. Emmitt Brown of Back to the Future?
     Ed Ramos, Ph.D: Science Policy Analyst and Research Fellow Of course!
Ricky Waivers in NJ (11th grade student)
483
describe how designer medicines are made. How will they work
     Joe McInerney, M.S.: I was the executive director of NCHPEG, where he developed educational materials in human genetics and genetic medicine for a broad range of health professionals. If I understand the intent of your question, you are referring to pharmacogenetics. This involves the identification of genetic variants that affect drug metabolism. These variants can help health professionals determine correct dosage and, in some instances, even whether a certain drug will work at all for some people.
Northwestern High School in MD (11th grade student)

Information - Moderator

2009 DNA Day Essay Contest Winners

The American Society of Human Genetics has just announced the winners of its 4th Annual National DNA Day Essay Contest, sponsored by Life Technologies. This year, high school students had a choice of answering two questions:

Question 1: Do all traits for all species come in only two varieties?

Question 2: What are the causes of human health and disease?


And the winners are:

For Question 1

  Student Grade Teacher School City State
1st Place Mehera Emrich 12 Jay Chugh Acalanes High School Lafayette CA
2nd Place Laura Molina 10 Cyndi Hoffman Viera High School Viera FL
3rd Place Stephen Wang 11 Beenu Gupta Charter School of Wilmington Wilmington DE


For Question 2

  Student Grade Teacher School City State
1st Place Michael Kovacs 12 Virginia Brown Winston Churchill High School Potomac MD
2nd Place Jennifer Li 11 Chad Ogren Enloe High School Raleigh NC
3rd Place Sharon Hartzell 11 Tina Giovenco Chenango Forks High School Binghamton NY


First place
winners will each receive $400 and their teachers will each get a $2,000 grant for laboratory genetics equipment.
Second place winners will each receive $250.
Third place winners will each receive $150.

Congratulations to all!



485
Do drugs affect your DNA?
     Amy Turriff, B.S.: I'm a second-year genetic counseling student in the Johns Hopkins/NHGRI training program. There are some drugs that do affect your DNA, such as chemotherapy drugs.
Guymon High School in OK (9th grade student)
486
What kind of research is your institute doing on alzheimers?
     Greg Feero, M.D., Ph.D.: I work to help make emerging genetic technologies more accessible to health professionals. Our institute has funded studies to understand how individuals deal with learning about the results of a genetic test called APOE4 testing for risk of Alzheimer's disease - this test is controversial as it doesn't work perfectly to predict risk. We have also had staff in the past with a strong interest in rare inherited forms of early onset Alzheimer's disease. Much of the work of NHGRI is designed to produce tools for other researchers to study multiple diseases including Alzheimer's disease.
Griff in DE ()
487
My girlfriend is cheating on me. How do I CSI her bed sheets in order to find out who she is sleeping with?
     Barry H. Thompson, M.D., M.S.: As Medical Director at AMCG, I am responsible for activities such as professional practices, clinical guidelines, and ethical aspects of clinical genetics. Assuming that your question is not fully in jest, let me say that forensic science can and does employ (as you indicate in your reference to CSI) genetic material in ascertaining the "perpetrator" in cases. At the same time, I'd suggest that resolution of difficulties with your girlfriend probably rests with other than scientific procedures. Counseling???
Luther College in IA (Higher Education student)
488
Are you guys going to do an animal genome project?
     Arjun Prasad, B.S.: My research area involves comparing genome sequences of different animals to understand how they are related and how genomes evolve. We (as scientists) are sequencing many animal genomes. In fact before the human genome was sequenced scientists started with a nematode and a fly. A project I'm involved with (the NISC Comparative Sequencing Program) is sequencing portions of many many animals (>60 so far). By comparing these other genome sequences we can make inferences to how genomes work.
Palms Middle School in CA (7th grade student)

Information - Moderator Now joining us is Amy Turiff, a genetic counseling student.


490
How long have scientists known about DNA?
     Jonathan Gitlin, Ph.D.: I keep abreast of developments in the field of genomics and genetics, and the policy implications of those developments. I conduct analyses on programs undertaken by NHGRI and prepare reports that are used by the institute, the Department of Health and Human Services, and members of Congress for determining future research priorities and for funding. DNA was first discovered in 1869 by a Swiss doctor called Friedrich Miescher who isolated it from pus! most famously, in 1953 Francis Crick, James Watson, Maurice Wilkins, and Rosalind Franklin worked out the structure of DNA, and how it encoded our genetic information.
Palms Middle School in CA (7th grade student)
491
Is it possible to change someone's hair from curly to straight genetically?
     Meghan Deeney, B.S.: I am currently a second year genetic counseling student at Brandeis University in Waltham, MA. I completed my prenatal and cancer genetic counseling internships. My current internship is in pediatric genetic counseling at Children's Hospital Boston. I also work at Genzyme Genetics part-time. At this time, no it is not possible to change our hair genetically. We do not know all of the genes that cause the texture of your hair, or hair color, etc.
Pennsville Memorial High School in NJ (10th grade student)
492
Palms Middle School in CA (7th grade student)
493
Sarah Harding, thank you for answering my question . now i have another one, when they cloned Dolly the sheep how many surrogate mothers did they go through ?
     Sarah Harding, MPH: I guide NHGRI's community outreach efforts. I have master's degree in public health. You're welcome! Happy DNA Day!! Over 250 embryos were used in the overall effort to clone the sheep Dolly.
Palms Middle School in CA (7th grade student)
494
I have heard in the past about a triple helix. Is that plausible?
     Michael Dougherty, PhD: I'm the director of education for the American Society of Human Genetics. I help to educate people about the importance and role of genetics in their lives. DNA can form local areas of triple helix, which may have important functions, but most DNA exists in the familiar double helix. Triple helices are found in some fibrous protein, such as collagen.
Arrowhead High School in WI (10th grade student)
495
With the technology currently available is it possible to clone a human? Has it happened?
     Kimberly Barr, M.S.: My work involves content development and mangement for our Regional Genetics Web site and development of education materials for Kaiser members and providers. Another aspect to my job includes outreach to the community, which has included lectures to medical students. No, human cloning has not happened. Animal cloning has been done, but there are many technological and ethical problems that would need to be addressed before human cloning would be possible. Most experiements continue to find a lot of problems trying to clone an animal. This includes fetal losses, poor newborn survivability, and birth defects. Even when/if these concerns are addressed, there is significant concerns about the ethical issue of whether or not to clone a human.
Branford High School in CT (9th grade student)
496
How many strands make up a DNA double helix?
     Arjun Prasad, B.S.: My research area involves comparing genome sequences of different animals to understand how they are related and how genomes evolve. We call DNA a double helix because there are two phosphate backbones that hold together the bases.
Palms Middle School in CA (7th grade teacher)
497
How did DNA come about? How did it develop, especially in terms of evolutionary progression?
     Barry H. Thompson, M.D., M.S.: As Medical Director at AMCG, I am responsible for activities such as professional practices, clinical guidelines, and ethical aspects of clinical genetics. Frankly, we don't know; theories abound. Wouldn't we like to fully understand the processes that led to the occurrence of genetic material and such as amino acids.
Bergen County Academies in NJ (9th grade student)
498
If a mother has AIDS, is her child guaranteed to have AIDS as well?
     Amy Turriff, B.S.: I'm a second-year genetic counseling student in the Johns Hopkins/NHGRI training program. There have been a lot of advances in HIV/AIDS research and treatment. One of these advances includes medications that reduce the transmission of HIV from mother to baby to a 2% or less chance.
Bergen County Academies in NJ (9th grade student)


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Posted: April 24, 2009