As the eighth annual National DNA Day approaches, the National Human Genome Research Institute (NHGRI), along with students, teachers, researchers and health professionals across the country, are gearing up to celebrate the key molecule of life.
National DNA Day is usually observed on April 25, but this year NHGRI will hold most of its activities on Friday, April 23 to accommodate classroom schedules. Building upon the popularity of the online chatroom and ambassador programs, NHGRI and its DNA Day partners have continued to expand their outreach efforts even further with National DNA Day social networking pages on Facebook and Twitter.
Established by Congress seven years ago, National DNA Day commemorates the successful completion of the Human Genome Project in 2003 and the discovery of DNA's double helix by Watson and Crick in 1953. Of course, National DNA Day is much more than a time to honor historical achievements. It's a day filled with opportunities for students, teachers and the public to learn how the exciting field of genome research will soon touch all of our lives.
"DNA Day is a unique opportunity for genetic and genome professionals to discuss their own careers and daily lives with students and the public," said Carla Easter, Ph.D., a science education specialist in NHGRI's Education and Community Involvement Branch, which guides NHGRI's National DNA Day outreach and partnership efforts. "It's important that our researchers are accessible so students can be inspired and perhaps consider pursuing a career in genomic science or medicine. Even if students don't choose to become researchers or health professionals, we want them to be aware of what this valuable science might mean for their own health."
Each year, NHGRI supports a diverse number of activities to foster interactions between genome researchers and the public. For instance, NHGRI researchers, called DNA Day Ambassadors, are visiting dozens of high schools during April to give presentations and field questions from students.
No matter where they live, students and teachers can participate in National DNA Day through a live, moderated online chat with NHGRI researchers, which will be open for questions Friday, April 23, from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Eastern. NHGRI experts will be available to answer questions on a wide range of topics, including basic science, clinical research, genomics careers and the ethical, legal and social implications of genome research. For those unable to participate in the live event, a transcript of the chat will be available on the DNA Day Web site at National DNA Day Online Chatroom.
To get its message out to the rapidly expanding world of social networking, NHGRI has created a Facebook page for National DNA Day. Users must register to use the Facebook social networking site, which is free.
National DNA Day is also sending out updates through Twitter, another free service for users. The National DNA Day Twitter feed can be subscribed to by going to www.twitter.com/dnaday.
NHGRI's Web site offers a number of free, educational tools on genetics and genomics, including webcasts, podcasts and an online multimedia education kit called Understanding The Human Genome Project. They are available at www.genome.gov/DNAday.
NHGRI's partners for National DNA Day 2010 include: The American Society of Human Genetics [ashg.org], The Genetic Alliance [geneticalliance.org], American College of Medical Genetics (ACMG) [acmg.net], The International Society of Nurses in Genetics (ISONG)[isong.org] and The National Society of Genetic Counselors (NSGC) [nsgc.org].
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Last Reviewed: March 26, 2012