2008 National DNA Day Online Chatroom Transcript

National Human Genome Research Institute

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


2008 National DNA Day Online Chatroom Transcript

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


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546
How long did you go to school for? Also, what school?
     Shawn Burgess, Ph.D.: Studying developmental processes and their relation to human genetic disease. I went to Wesleyan University (Connecticut) for 4 years of undergraduate research, 6 years of graduate school at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, and 5 years of postdoctoral studies at MIT.
Bednarcik Junior High School in IL (8th grade student)
547
How many years of school do you have to go through to become a doctor, scientist or genetic counselor?
     Dale Lea, R.N., M.P.H., C.G.C., F.A.A.N.: Developing genetics, health education and community involvement programs and resources, and translating genetic and genomic information for the public. To become a doctor it takes about 12 years including residency. Most scientists have doctoral degrees (PhD) and this may take 4 or more years past college. To become a genetic counselor, you need a 4 year college degree, and a 2 year masters degree in genetic counseling.
Waterville High School in WA (5th grade student)
548
Could you explain, based on the future for our society, why it is important for young people to study genetics and pursue genetics/genomics as a profession.
     Carla Easter, Ph.D.: Creates and implements genetic education programs. Works with the branch to create science education products for high school students. This is the first time in history that we are able to apply our knowledge of DNA for the benefit of human health and provide clues about our ancestry. In addition, understanding one's genetics is becoming more and more important in making decisions about your personal health as well as making ethical and legal decisions regarding how society uses this information. With all these advances, there will be a need for more genetic and genomic professionals.
Arleta High School in CA (teacher)
549
Can your DNA make a super-human?
     Della Brown White, Ph.D.: Examining social and cultural factors that may influence participation in genetics research among minority populations. There is research being done to understand the implications of genetic enhancements. These enhancements could potentially be done to alter individual physical capabilities. However, there have been concerns raised about the ethical uses of genetics for this purpose. Whether we could become "super-human" remains to be seen.
Lugoff-Elgin High School in SC (10th grade student)
550
SD Citra Kasih (6th grade student)
551
What type of stem cell research is being done? What do you believe the pros and cons are?
     Les Biesecker, M.D.: Researching the clinical and molecular delineation of human malformation syndromes. There is a lot going on. Some researchers are working on understanding the basic functions and physiology of the stem cell and others are working on applications. Most of the applications are to use the stem cell to replace missing or cells that have lost critical functions. A really important example is diabetes - the pancreatic beta cell makes insulin and it would be phenomenal if we could figure out how to treat this disease with stem cells.
Rock Canyon High School in CO (11th grade student)
552
How long is the average DNA strand?
     Carla Easter, Ph.D.: Creates and implements genetic education programs. Works with the branch to create science education products for high school students. The average DNA strand from a human call is about six feet in length.
Holy Family Catholic High School in MN (9th grade student)
553
Joliet Central High School in IL (9th grade student)
554
Alpharetta High School in GA (9th grade student)
555
If you smoke how long can it take to get cancer?
     Dale Lea, R.N., M.P.H., C.G.C., F.A.A.N.: Developing genetics, health education and community involvement programs and resources, and translating genetic and genomic information for the public. If a person is a heavy smoker (a pack of cigarettes per day or more) when you are young, you may develop lung cancer in your later years even if you quit. The news reporter, Peter Jennings, was a heavy smoker when he was young. Even though he quit, he died of lung cancer recently at the age of 67. Some people have a gene or genes that predispose them to lung cancer. Smoking and even second hand smoke exposure can increase this risk dramatically.
Souderton Area High School in PA (10th grade student)
556
How does genetic counseling work?
     Barbara Biesecker, M.S.: Researching ways to make genetic counseling as effective as possible. Genetic counseling can address risks of disease based on family medical history information. A genetic counselor typically takes a family history in the form of a pedigree. In the prenatal setting, genetic counselors help clients to decide about prenatal screening and testing options. In the pediatric setting, genetic counselors help parents to adapt to their child's condition. This involves psychological counseling as well as genetics expertise.
Maple Shade High School in NJ (10th grade student)
557
how far can cloning go and will it ever be successful and what would be the benefits of cloning
     Della Brown White, Ph.D.: Examining social and cultural factors that may influence participation in genetics research among minority populations. There are many concerns among scientists and the public about the appropriate use of cloning. Most will agree that genetic advances should aim to improve health and delivery of health care for all people.
Scarlet Oaks in OH (12th grade student)
558
How do you discover new diseases and viruses?
     Les Biesecker, M.D.: Researching the clinical and molecular delineation of human malformation syndromes. I do this by studying patients in the National Institutes of Health Clinical Research Center. In this amazing place, we have the ability to bring in patients with unusual diseases and study them in great detail - both clinically and molecularly. It is the largest clinical research center in the world! You can check it out at: http://clinicalcenter.nih.gov/
Maple Shade High School in NJ (10th grade student)
559
Are you free to research anything you want, or do you get told what to research?
     Shawn Burgess, Ph.D.: Studying developmental processes and their relation to human genetic disease. At some level, I have remarkable freedom to choose my topics of research, but I do not have 100% freedom. Working at the National Human Genome Research Institute, it would be hard to justify my studying plant photosynthesis. But what tends to happen is that you end up working in a place that has interests in line with your research program. Win-win!
West Seneca East Senior High School in NY (10th grade student)
560
How expensive is it to have my genome sequenced?
     Larry Thompson, M.S., M.F.A.: Leads the Communications Branch at the Genome Institute. Genomic researchers and many private companies are working very, very hard to make it afforable for all of us to have our genome's sequenced and the information made available for analysis as part of our medical record. Estimates now suggest that the cost of sequencing a human-sized genome at fairly good detail the the current generation of technology is now around $300,000 or a little less. There is a contest currently underway for the first group to sequence 100 humans for less than $10,000 each and the genome institute has two research programs to help drive the technological advances to get the cost down to $100,000 and then ultimately down to $1,000 to sequence a single genome.
St. Ignatius College Prep in IL (12th grade student)
561
is it possible to combine an animal and a human.
     Carla Easter, Ph.D.: Creates and implements genetic education programs. Works with the branch to create science education products for high school students. It is possible to combine human and animal DNA. Transgenic organisms are experimentally produced organism in which DNA has been artificially introduced and incorporated into the organism's germ line, usually by injecting the foreign DNA into the nucleus of a fertilized embryo.
West Seneca East Senior High School in NY (10th grade student)
562
what does it takes to be a scientist
     Larry Brody, Ph.D.: Dr. Brody's lab investigates the connection between genetics and diseases related to birth defects and cancer. Basically curiosity, passion and patience. Some computer skills are really recommended.
John C. Fremont High School in CA (10th grade student)
563
I want two be a doctor? How long would it take me?
     Barbara Biesecker, M.S.: Researching ways to make genetic counseling as effective as possible. It would take four years of college, four years of medical school, and three years of residency. Some physicians go on to do fellowships as well and it takes additional training. Good luck to you in your studies!!!
John C. Fremont High School in CA (10th grade student)
564
I know there is a single strand of DNA, then a double helix, but is there such thing as a triple helix in any animal?
     Faith Pangilinan, Ph.D.: Looking for genetic risk factors for human birth defects (mainly spina bifida). The DNA in our chromosomes is double-stranded, and when copies of genes are made to code for proteins, it's in a single-stranded form (RNA). However, the triple helix would be a very unusual form for DNA to take.
Lugoff-Elgin High School in SC (10th grade student)
565
Are you able to fix major diseases?
     Dale Lea, R.N., M.P.H., C.G.C., F.A.A.N.: Developing genetics, health education and community involvement programs and resources, and translating genetic and genomic information for the public. At present, scientists have not yet figured out ways to change mutated genes that can cause major diseases like breast cancer, colon cancer or diabetes. Genetic and genomic research is leading to more genetic tests that can be used to choose the best medication and treatment for a disease based on the person's genetic make-up. This is called personalized medicine.
Palms Middle School in CA (7th grade student)
566
with genetic engineering becoming more and more advanced, do you think there will be a day where there can be a "perfect" baby? What do you believe will be ethical issues relating to it?
     Della Brown White, Ph.D.: Examining social and cultural factors that may influence participation in genetics research among minority populations. I don't know that we will ever be able to create a "perfect" being. While there are genetic factors for disease, there are also behavioral, environmental, and social factors that can influence whether an individual gets a disease or not.
Scarlet Oaks in OH (12th grade student)
567
If you could combine your genes with anyone's in the world who would it be?
     Les Biesecker, M.D.: Researching the clinical and molecular delineation of human malformation syndromes. Actually, I have already done this - three times! That might not be the intent of your question, but in fact, human reproduction is evolved for the purpose of combining and mixing genes from individuals. My three "experiments" are 17, 14, and 10 years old and really cool people. My genes were combined with my wife Barbara, a genetic counselor who is also on the chat room right now!
St. Ignatius College Prep in IL (12th grade student)
568
Can DNA be synthetically made in the laboratory?
     Faith Pangilinan, Ph.D.: Looking for genetic risk factors for human birth defects (mainly spina bifida). Yes, short stretches of DNA can be chemically synthesized.
Kettering Fairmont High School in OH (10th grade student)
569
Is there a genatic link to deafness?
     Shawn Burgess, Ph.D.: Studying developmental processes and their relation to human genetic disease. Definitely! There are many, many genes known to be involved in deafness. For a sense of how many, you can go to the Online Mendilian Inheritance in Man website which catalogs human genetic diseases: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/sites/entrez?db=omim and search for deafness (there are over 700 entries).
Maple Shade High School in NJ (9th grade student)
570
how does dna help everyone in the world scientificly
     Carla Easter, Ph.D.: Creates and implements genetic education programs. Works with the branch to create science education products for high school students. This is the first time in history that we are able to apply our knowledge of DNA for the benefit of human health and provide clues about our ancestry. In addition, understanding one's genetics is becoming more and more important in making decisions about your personal health as well as making ethical and legal decisions regarding how society uses this information.
Kannapolis Middle School in NC (7th grade student)
571
What does DNA coil around?
     David Bodine, M.D., Ph.D.: Investigating 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 are two answers to this excellent question. The DNA double helix coils around istelf simply because it is the most stable way for the atoms to interact. In other words, the DNA molecule naturally is coiled because the chemical bonds are most stable in a helix. This is the primary structure of DNA. DNA in eukaryotic cells (not bacteria) is wound around a cluster of proteins called histones. The DNA double helix wraps around a histone core twice and this is about 200 base pairs of DNA per histone. This is secondary structure. Tertiary structures and beyond are formed when histones are coiled around themselves.
Holy Family Catholic High School in MN (9th grade student)
573
Do smarter people have enhanced smartness genes?
     Della Brown White, Ph.D.: Examining social and cultural factors that may influence participation in genetics research among minority populations. There are many factors that should be considered when thinking about how "smart" an individual is. Home and school environments contribute significantly to how well a student performs on a day-to-day basis. Genetic contributions to any aspect of our lives must be understood within the larger context of the society in which we live.
Alpharetta High School in GA (9th grade student)
574
Can a person get rid of diabetes?
     Jennifer Sloan, M.S., Ph.D., C.G.C.: Involved in Genetic Counseling, as well as studying the very rare metabolic condition Methylmalonic Acidemia, and the more common condition Neurofibromatosis Type I. Thanks for your question. It depends on what type of diabetes someone has. If a person has type 2 diabetes, diet, exercise and losing weight may help someone "get rid" of diabetes.
John C. Fremont High School in CA (10th grade student)
575
Are there genes in soda pop?
     Carla Easter, Ph.D.: Creates and implements genetic education programs. Works with the branch to create science education products for high school students. The acidity of soda pop is around pH is about 3 making it very acidic. Very little could survive in soda pop.
Scarlet Oaks in OH (11th grade student)
576
Are they using stem cell research to try and find a cure for Progeria?
     Les Biesecker, M.D.: Researching the clinical and molecular delineation of human malformation syndromes. I don't know if anyone is using stem cells, but there are some very exciting preliminary results for Progeria using a drug that can stabilize the nuclear membrane, one of the key abnormalities caused by the mutations in Lamin A, which cause this disorder.
Lugoff-Elgin High School in SC (10th grade student)
577
How many chromosomes does a human being have?
     Faith Pangilinan, Ph.D.: Looking for genetic risk factors for human birth defects (mainly spina bifida). This answer is from the NHGRI website (http://www.genome.gov/11508982). The typical number of chromosomes in a human cell is 46 - two pairs of 23 - holding an estimated 25,000 genes. One set of 23 chromosomes is inherited from the biological mother (from the egg), and the other set is inherited from the biological father (from the sperm).
West Perry High School in PA (11th grade student)
578
Is it possible to have cancer at birth?
     Dale Lea, R.N., M.P.H., C.G.C., F.A.A.N.: Developing genetics, health education and community involvement programs and resources, and translating genetic and genomic information for the public. Yes, unfortunately it is possible for a baby to have cancer at birth, although this is rare. One example is Wilm's tumor - a tumor of the kidney. Another type of cancer that can be present at birth is retinoblastoma - a tumor of the eye.
John C. Fremont High School in CA (10th grade student)
579
How complicated is your job? What do you have to do?
     Barbara Biesecker, M.S.: Researching ways to make genetic counseling as effective as possible. Thanks for your question! I am a genetic counselor. My job is complicated but in a good way. It's complicated because I work with families who have questions and concerns about how conditions are inherited in their family. I have to know about genetics, medicine and how people feel in response to a genetic risk or when managing an affected child. I also have to have skills to teach. I choose to do research as well because I love it. Complicated means that you get a lot of variety in your work and that can lead to high levels of job satisfaction.
Bednarcik Junior High School in IL (8th grade student)
580
Why does the process of replication, transcription, and translation occur in a 5' to 3' orientation?
     Shawn Burgess, Ph.D.: Studying developmental processes and their relation to human genetic disease. If you look at the nucleotides the 5' end is different from the 3' end. All the enzymes that synthesize DNA and RNA can grab DNA at the 3' end and attach the new 5' end, but there are no enzymes to recognize a 5' end and attach a new 3' end to it. So the progressiveness of all the polymerizing enzymes moves from 5' to 3'. It makes sense to have all enzymes move in the same direction so there are no "collisions" on the DNA or RNA...
Carvin School Inc. Puerto Rico (12th grade student)
581
Do you think stem cells will be available for nerve damage?
     Les Biesecker, M.D.: Researching the clinical and molecular delineation of human malformation syndromes. Great question. A number of groups are hard at work at this. One of the key questions is not whether stem cells can become nerve cells (they can). The key question is whether the stem cells can make the proper connections with other nerve cells. Remember that most of these connections are made early in development, so it is no small challenge to make a bunch of connections much later in the life of the person. There is good reason for hope - and a great reason why neuroscience is a cool field - you should look into it!
Waterville High School in WA (11th grade student)
582
What is the impact of hgp on personalized medicine ?
     Carla Easter, Ph.D.: Creates and implements genetic education programs. Works with the branch to create science education products for high school students. The Human Genome Project has helped us apply our knowledge of DNA for the benefit of human health. Understanding one's genetics is becoming more and more important in helping us make decisions about our personal health--personalized medicine--as well as making ethical and legal decisions regarding how society uses this information.
ABABU Center for Biological Information Technology, RAJAHMUNDRY, INDIA (teacher)
583
What part of your job do you find to be most enjoyable?
     Dale Lea, R.N., M.P.H., C.G.C., F.A.A.N.: Developing genetics, health education and community involvement programs and resources, and translating genetic and genomic information for the public. I am a nurse by training, so I am committed to taking care of people when they are ill or have health issues. I have a masters in public health so I am also committed to improving the health of the general public too. What I really like about my work as a health educator at the National Human Genome Research Institute is that I am overseeing or creating educational programs and materials for the general public that will help them understand what genetics and genomics means for their health and the health of their families. I am excited about the emerging medicines and treatments that are based on a person's genome that are more personalized and effective.
Rock Canyon High School in CO (12th grade student)
584
Have you guys studied anything about cloning organisms?
     Les Biesecker, M.D.: Researching the clinical and molecular delineation of human malformation syndromes. We use mouse embryonic stem cells every day in our work. These cells are used to create mice that have human diseases so that we can understand these diseases and study them in the laboratory. It is unethical or impossible to do some kinds of research in humans and studying animals is the only way to make progress. This process really is powerful - many diseases have been solved using mouse models of human disease.
Alpharetta High School in GA (9th grade student)
585
Why do courts throw out DNA evidence in certain trials?
     Vence Bonham, J.D.: The ethical, legal, social and policy implications of genomic discoveries, particularly health professionals' and lay persons' understanding of race, ethnicity and genetics. There are "rules of evidence" that are used to determine all evidence that is accepted at trials. Potential problems include "chain of custody" of the DNA sample.
Morningside High School in CA (12th grade student)
586
who was the first person to extract their own DNA?
     Larry Thompson, M.S., M.F.A.: Leads the Communications Branch at the Genome Institute. Craig Venter appears to have been the first person to sequence his own DNA. His genome sequence was published earlier this year in a scientific journal. The genomic sequence of James Watson, half of the team that discovered the double helical shape of DNA was also recently published. Their actual genetic code is, or soon will be, in an online database called Genbank.
Alpharetta High School in GA (11th grade student)
587
i know scientists are getting DNA out of fossils of dinosaurs is it possible to get DNA from animals that have died long before the dinosaurs even existed?
     Belen Hurle, Ph.D.: Generating data for use in developing and refining computational tools for comparing genomic sequence from multiple vertebrate species. in 1995, a bacterial spore was revived, cultured, and identified from the abdominal contents of extinct bees preserved for 25 to 40 million years in buried Dominican amber. This may be one of the oldest DNAs studied yet. Dinosaurs date as far back as 135 million years.
Lugoff-Elgin High School in SC (10th grade student)
588
If Robert Mendel was still alive today, what do you think he would say about the advancements in DNA?
     Faith Pangilinan, Ph.D.: Looking for genetic risk factors for human birth defects (mainly spina bifida). Gregor Mendel is often called the father of genetics for his work in the 1800's on the inheritance of physical traits in pea plants. He did this without even knowing DNA existed, so I'm sure everything we've learned about the structure of DNA and how it functions would fascinate him.
Lugoff-Elgin High School in SC (10th grade student)
589
Is personality aquired through heredity?
     Della Brown White, Ph.D.: Examining social and cultural factors that may influence participation in genetics research among minority populations. We may inherit certain aspects of our personality. However, when thinking about our individual personalities we must consider the environments from which we come and the environments in which we currently exist. Unfortunately we do not live in bubbles; thus, life experiences can affect the way our personalities are expressed and interpreted by others.
Maple Shade High School in NJ (9th grade student)
590
Hola. Que tal? Por que estudias genetics y no estudias la arte?
     Belen Hurle, Ph.D.: Generating data for use in developing and refining computational tools for comparing genomic sequence from multiple vertebrate species. Me encanta el arte! Si te gusta el arte y la ciencia, puedes considerar una profesion de ilustrador medico. Ellos hacen las ilustraciones de los libros y panfletos cientificos. Tambien las animaciones cientificas de computador de los anuncios y las peliculas. Es una profesion fascinante.
Alpharetta High School in GA (9th grade teacher)
591
John C. Fremont High School in CA (10th grade student)
592
How do little mutations in DNA cause such big defects?
     Les Biesecker, M.D.: Researching the clinical and molecular delineation of human malformation syndromes. Great question - I have many patients who have severe birth defects that were caused by the change of but a single nucleotide of their DNA - 1 out of 3,000,000,000! This is because certain parts of genes are absolutely critical for the function of the protein they encode and some of those proteins are essential for the function of the organism. When one of these goes awry, there can be severe consequences. On the other hand, some fairly major changes in the DNA cause no trouble whatsoever. Not all DNA is essential or has an immediate effect if mutated. This is one of the main parts of my job - differentiating the trivial changes from the severe.
Westview High School in CA (10th grade student)
593
Do you know what mitosis is?
     Faith Pangilinan, Ph.D.: Looking for genetic risk factors for human birth defects (mainly spina bifida). Yes. Mitosis is the stage of cell division when the a complete set of chromosomes is delivered to each cell.
John Bednarcik Junior High School in IL (8th grade student)
594
What is the most interesting aspect of your job?
     Jennifer Sloan, M.S., Ph.D., C.G.C.: Involved in Genetic Counseling, as well as studying the very rare metabolic condition Methylmalonic Acidemia, and the more common condition Neurofibromatosis Type I. I am a genetic counselor here at the NIH and we see patients with genetic conditions as part of our research studies. One of the most interesting and rewarding aspects of my job is to be a part of the research team and work towards treatment for these conditions. Also, it is very interesting to meet people from all over the country and from different backgrounds.
Holy Family Catholic High School in MN (9th grade student)
595
What is the main difference between mitosis and meiosis?
     David Bodine, M.D., Ph.D.: Investigating 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. Mitosis occurs in most cells of the body, skin, blood, brain. Mitosis duplicates all the DNA in the cell, each chromosome is duplicated into two copies. Then the cell divides taking 1 set of chromosomes to each daughter cell. In humans the 46 chromosomes (23 pairs) are duplicated and each daughter cell gets 46 chromosomes after division. Meiosis takes place only in the ovary (making eggs) and testis (Making sperm). In meiosis, the first step is the same, the chromosomes duplicate themselves. Remember that chromosomes come in pairs. Instead of all the duplicated chromosomes lining up along the mid line of the cells, in meiosis, the chromosomes pair with each other and THEN line up on the mid line. The first meiotoic division takes one set of paired, duplicated chromosomes to each daughter cell making 23 duplicated chromosomes per cell. The second meiotic division divides the duplicated chromosomes into 23 chromosomes per egg or sperm. That way when an egg and a sperm combine, the new zygote has 46 chromosomes - the right number. If eggs and sperm were made by mitosis, every generation would have twice as many chromosomes as the one before and that is lethal.
Bednarcik Junior High School in IL (8th grade student)
596
Do dogs have DNA?
     Faith Pangilinan, Ph.D.: Looking for genetic risk factors for human birth defects (mainly spina bifida). They certainly do!! In fact some of my NHGRI colleagues have recently finished sequencing teh whole dog genome.
Holy Family Catholic High School in MN (9th grade student)
597
When and how did they decide today is National DNA Day?
     Judith Beckendorf, M.S., C.G.C.: On April 25, 1953 Watson and Crick published their landmark scientific report on structure of DNA; they had discovered that the "molecule of life" was a double helix. Fifty years later, on that day, the final human genome sequence was published and the annual celebration of DNA Day began. DNA Day is a wonderful opportunity to educate the public about genetics and their health.
Holy Family Catholic High School in MN (9th grade student)
599
How long have scientists known about DNA?
     Shawn Burgess, Ph.D.: Studying developmental processes and their relation to human genetic disease. This is actually a somewhat complicated question to answer. Gregor Mendel was the first person to demonstrate that there had to be something that conveyed genetic information from parent to offspring in predictable ways. The person that first purified DNA from cells was Friedrich Miescher in 1871. McCarty, Avery and MacLeod, showed that DNA carried genetic information in 1944, and Watson and Crick published the DNA structure April 25th, 1953 (we are celebrating the anniversary of the discovery of the DNA structure with this chatroom today).
Souderton Area High School in PA (10th grade student)
600
How many DNA molecules are in your body?
     Carla Easter, Ph.D.: Creates and implements genetic education programs. Works with the branch to create science education products for high school students. If you mean how many DNA base pairs are within the nucleus, then there are 3 billion base pairs within the nucleus of each of your cells and you have trillions of cells in your body.
Holy Family Catholic High School in MN (9th grade student)
601
My teacher told us about how similar the DNA is among all humans. I know that in today's society it is important to celebrate diversity, but doesn't this fact indicate that maybe we should also celebrate how much we are the same?
     Della Brown White, Ph.D.: Examining social and cultural factors that may influence participation in genetics research among minority populations. Yes, we are very similar. With diversity we can celebrate our cultural differences but you are right in saying we should not forget to embrace our "sameness."
North Brunswick Township High School in NJ (10th grade student)
602
What is the role of telomeres on the end of the DNA.
     Faith Pangilinan, Ph.D.: Looking for genetic risk factors for human birth defects (mainly spina bifida). Telomeres protect the ends of chromosomes from being lost when they're copied during cell division.
Liberty Jr.Sr. High School in PA (12th grade student)
603
When i was born my mother had toxemia. I was born 2 months premature and barely survived. Is it possible that if i have children some day, the same thing could happen to them?
     Dale Lea, R.N., M.P.H., C.G.C., F.A.A.N.: Developing genetics, health education and community involvement programs and resources, and translating genetic and genomic information for the public. Women who have a family history of toxemia (for example, if your mother or sister had toxemia with a pregnancy), your risk also increases. African-American women and women who are financially challenged, underprivileged, under twenty, or over thirty-five are also at increased risk. Medical conditions such as lupus, diabetes, or high blood pressure (chronic hypertension) put you at risk for developing toxemia. If you are pregnant with more than one baby, such as twins or triplets, the risk increases. If there is something wrong with either your baby or your placenta, such as the presence of a chromosomal abnormality or an abnormal maternal serum alpha feto protein (MSAFP), you also are at an increased risk for toxemia.
Goliad High School in TX (10th grade student)
604
do you have a sense of humor as a scientist?
     Les Biesecker, M.D.: Researching the clinical and molecular delineation of human malformation syndromes. You have to! The truth is that most experiments DON'T work - one has to have a sense of optimism and humor to get through the many days when things don't go so well. What you read about science in textbooks and even in scientific journals is a tiny fraction of the work that goes on - most doesn't work, we learn from that, rethink our assumptions, change the methods or approach, and try again. Remember, the definition of a successful scientist: "A person who proceeds from failure to failure with undiminished optimism"
Alpharetta High School in GA (9th grade student)
605
What is the leading research being done with adult stem cells?
     David Bodine, M.D., Ph.D.: Investigating 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 basic experiments. There was a lot of interesting data about adult stem cells in the newspapers a few years ago, but a lot of that turned out to be wrong. Recently we have learned to make normal cells act like stem cells, and then they may begin to become different kinds of cells. this is very promising. Right now the only adult stem cells used to cure disease in people is the bone marrow stem cell. Bone marrow transplants have been used to cure a lot of blood diseases including Sickle Cell Disease and leukemia.
Rock Canyon High School in CO (11th grade student)
606
Whats the best part about your job?
     Larry Brody, Ph.D.: Dr. Brody's lab investigates the connection between genetics and diseases related to birth defects and cancer. We get to discover new things nearly every day. Often these are just small bits knowledge but know one new them before.
Shikellamy High School in PA (9th grade student)
607
Is everyone around the world the same....by DNA i mean or is DNA always the same?
     Les Biesecker, M.D.: Researching the clinical and molecular delineation of human malformation syndromes. Your DNA is made of the same 4 building blocks (bases) as everyone elses, but reading yours from end to end would be slightly different than mine. The average amount of difference is 1 base per thousand between any two people. Understanding how these differences lead to health or disease is one of the most exciting aspects of human genetics and the genome project. As a medical geneticist, I am immersed in this every day.
Makoto in NC (student)
608
How does cloning create new organs?
     David Bodine, M.D., Ph.D.: Investigating 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. It does not. However, if you can create a new organism by cloning, the organs from the new organism, when it grows up, may be able to be transplanted.
Lugoff-Elgin High School in SC (10th grade student)
609
Are all mammals 99.9% the same in DNA, or only humans? Also, could there ever be a human with less than 99.9% the same DNA as everyone else?
     Belen Hurle, Ph.D.: Generating data for use in developing and refining computational tools for comparing genomic sequence from multiple vertebrate species. 99.9% is an average difference between any two given humans. If you take any two chimpanzees they would be ten times more DIFFERENT that any two given humans. But if you take any two dogs, of any breed, they would be 10 times more SIMILAR than any two humans.
Westview High School in CA (9th grade student)
610
Maple Shade High School in NJ (10th grade student)
611
John C. Fremont High School in CA (10th grade student)
612
How did you make up the full name for DNA?
     Faith Pangilinan, Ph.D.: Looking for genetic risk factors for human birth defects (mainly spina bifida). Deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) is the chemical name for this molecule.
Westview High School in CA (9th grade student)
613
At what speed do strands of DNA replicate?
     Carla Easter, Ph.D.: Creates and implements genetic education programs. Works with the branch to create science education products for high school students. Replication in eukaryotic cells proceeds at about 50 nucleotides per second.
Scarlet Oaks in OH (12th grade student)
614
Can twins have the same, identical DNA strand?
     David Bodine, M.D., Ph.D.: Investigating 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 do. Most identical twins are from a single egg. That egg divides into two cells with identical DNA. The two-cell embryo is then separated into two single cells, each of which becomes a baby with identical DNA.
Holy Family Catholic High School in MN (9th grade student)
615
If I were to insert my own cloned brain cells into my noggin would I be smarter? If the above were true would it be possible to do the same with animals? If you could enhance species through cloning could there be an advancement in the evolutionary process (Corey)
     Les Biesecker, M.D.: Researching the clinical and molecular delineation of human malformation syndromes. Almost certainly not! Your brain is an extremely intricately and sophisticated organ and is obviously in very good shape - otherwise, you would not be able to ask such a sophisticated question. The early steps of cell based therapy are being tested on people with terribly severe abnormalities of the brain. Although there is optimism that these will work, it may be a way off. No cause to even begin to think about messing with a normal brain!
Rock Canyon High School in CO (12th grade student)
616
Do you believe that curing genetic diseases is beneficial to mankind or will it weaken us as a species?
     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 USA. We write the 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. Treating and one day being able to cure diseases with a genetic basis will improve the lives of the individuals and families that are affected in so many ways--from being able to attend school, work, participate in sports, spend time with people who are important to them and it will save money spent on health care. But, a hallmark of genetics is our human variability and the fact that there will always be mutations occurring. Therefore, diseases with a genetic basis will never be wiped out.
Rock Canyon High School in CO (12th grade student)
617
Is it possible to clone anything thats alive, even insects?
     Larry Brody, Ph.D.: Dr. Brody's lab investigates the connection between genetics and diseases related to birth defects and cancer. Do you mean make carbon copies of an animal? The real answer is that we don't know. One could plan out how to do it but cloning animals requires doing a tremendous number of experiments. If someone was intent on cloning a grasshopper, they could give it a try.
Kannapolis Middle School in NC (8th grade student)
618
Is being a extremely talented athelete linked to genetics?
     Vence Bonham, J.D.: The ethical, legal, social and policy implications of genomic discoveries, particularly health professionals' and lay persons' understanding of race, ethnicity and genetics. It is linked to hard work! Most athletes are talented because of their commitment to their sport (practice, practice practice). Genetics has a role in endurance and can therefore have an impact on athletism.
Alpharetta High School in GA (9th grade student)
619
What is the most complicated part of your job?
     Julie Sapp, Sc.M.: Counseling families with genetic conditions who participate in NHGRI research protocols at the NIH. Helping families understand the genetic basis of their condition and its inheritance and how best to cope with the medical and psychological effects of having a genetic condition. As a genetic counselor involved in clinical research, my actual job responsibilities and interactions with families with genetic condition vary widely. For me, though, one of the most challenging things about being a genetic counselor is that we are called upon to talk with families about emotionally difficult topics, such as making decisions about genetic testing, the prognosis of a genetic condition, or the impact that illness can have on a family.
Maple Shade High School in NJ (10th grade student)
620
How do tumors form?
     Larry Brody, Ph.D.: Dr. Brody's lab investigates the connection between genetics and diseases related to birth defects and cancer. Lots of different ways, probably one unique way for each tumor. Most tumors we really don't know how the get started, but for the minority we do understand, it is clear that mutations (small or large changes to the DNA sequence) in the genes of a normal cell cause that cell to become a tumor.
Shikellamy High School in PA (9th grade student)
621
Can homosexuality be linked to a genetic trait? Is there evidence of a "gay" gene? (Amanda Dixon)
     Della Brown White, Ph.D.: Examining social and cultural factors that may influence participation in genetics research among minority populations. There has been some research done to indicate that there may be some genetic factors at play in terms of sexual orientation. Yet, understanding the role of genetics in sexual orientation becomes really complex when trying to consider environmental and social factors that could be at play as well.
Rosa L. Parks High School in NJ (10th grade student)
622
How do you get Leukemia and what are the symptoms?
     Larry Brody, Ph.D.: Dr. Brody's lab investigates the connection between genetics and diseases related to birth defects and cancer. There are many different types of leukemia. Some of them are produced when two different chromosome being joined by mistake. These are called translocations. We do not know what causes them.
Maple Shade High School in NJ (10th grade teacher)
623
What is the degree of variation between the human DNA samples sequences used in the Human Genome Project?
     Belen Hurle, Ph.D.: Generating data for use in developing and refining computational tools for comparing genomic sequence from multiple vertebrate species. That is a very interesting question. The Human Genome project is a reference sequence. The samples used to put together the reference sequence come from a handful of humans, with the majority of the sequence from only one person. Nobody knows who these people were. There are at least two humans whose genome has been sequenced and openly published: James Watson and Craig Venter.
McDowell High School in PA (10th grade teacher)
624
What is the difference between natural selection and cultural evolution?
     Les Biesecker, M.D.: Researching the clinical and molecular delineation of human malformation syndromes. Natural selection is the process whereby the frequency of gene alleles are changed because the environment selectively eliminates some organisms that harbor deleterious genes. Cultural evolution is a series of behaviors that are encouraged or discouraged by relatives, friends, coworkers, and society at large. Our capacity to have cultural evolution may be genetic, by the status of it, probably has little or no genetic component.
St. Ignatius College Prep in IL (12th grade student)
625
What genetic disorders would you suggest all states check for in their newborns?
     Jennifer Sloan, M.S., Ph.D., C.G.C.: Involved in Genetic Counseling, as well as studying the very rare metabolic condition Methylmalonic Acidemia, and the more common condition Neurofibromatosis Type I. Good question. The disorders on the newborn screening panel are mandated by state law and are different in each state. Most of the conditions have some treatment which can prevent complications. One example is phenylketonuria (PKU), which can result in mental retardation if untreated. The treatment is a low phenylalanine diet. PKU is on the newborn screening panel in all states. You can review this website for more information http://genes-r-us.uthscsa.edu/
Princeton High School in NJ (11th grade student)
626
What is the average size of a DNA strand?
     Carla Easter, Ph.D.: Creates and implements genetic education programs. Works with the branch to create science education products for high school students. If the DNA within a human cell were stretched out it would be about six feet in length.
Maple Shade High School in NJ (10th grade student)
627
What do you think about the future of biotechnology?
     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 USA. We write the 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. Biotechnology is a rapidly growing field and a great career choice! It is because of scientists' understanding of DNA the biotechnology industry would not have grown to the size and importance it has today.
school of biotechnology( B.H.U.) (Higher Education student)
628
Is it possible to have very similar DNA to someone you are in no way related to?
     David Bodine, M.D., Ph.D.: Investigating 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. Similar - possible, after all there are billions of people in the world. Identical - no. There are 3 billion bases in each of the cells of your body and unless you have an identical twin, the odds of getting identical DNA by random chance is too small to calculate.
Maple Shade High School in NJ (10th grade student)
629
Can DNA be altered by a mutation so it will produce mutated and unwanted protiens?
     Larry Brody, Ph.D.: Dr. Brody's lab investigates the connection between genetics and diseases related to birth defects and cancer. Yes. This happens quite often. Most times, the mutated protein causes no harm. Sometimes the mutated protein can cause a disease.
Alpharetta High School in GA (9th grade student)
630
What genetic diseases do you think should be automatically screened for at birth?
     Les Biesecker, M.D.: Researching the clinical and molecular delineation of human malformation syndromes. The currently recommended panel for newborn screening is for 29 diseases and 90% of American babies currently get that screening. It is a wonderful thing as it allows early diagnosis of diseases that can be treated effectively before the severe symptoms arise.
Princeton High School in NJ (12th grade student)
631
como las personas se hacen gay?
     Belen Hurle, Ph.D.: Generating data for use in developing and refining computational tools for comparing genomic sequence from multiple vertebrate species. No esta del todo claro y no soy una experta en el tema: es bastante posible que sea una combinacion de factors geneticos y ambientales. Lo importante es respetar las opciones personales de los que nos rodean.
John C. Fremont High School in CA (10th grade student)
632
Does DNA develop before you are born?
     Jennifer Sloan, M.S., Ph.D., C.G.C.: Involved in Genetic Counseling, as well as studying the very rare metabolic condition Methylmalonic Acidemia, and the more common condition Neurofibromatosis Type I. Yes! DNA is present in both the egg and the sperm that come together to make an embryo. DNA is actually the plan for the embryo or fetus to grow and develop.
Maple Shade High School in NJ (10th grade student)
633
Is DNA similar to RNA?
     Larry Brody, Ph.D.: Dr. Brody's lab investigates the connection between genetics and diseases related to birth defects and cancer. Yes. They are quite similar. There are a few chemical differences. These differences mean that DNA is quite stable and RNA degrades easily. This is good because you want to keep your DNA always and being able to make RNAs from genes when you need them.
Lugoff-Elgin High School in SC (10th grade student)
634
What cures for cancer are there?
     Dale Lea, R.N., M.P.H., C.G.C., F.A.A.N.: Developing genetics, health education and community involvement programs and resources, and translating genetic and genomic information for the public. When cancer is discovered early and treated with surgery and possibly chemotherapy and/or radiation therapy, and the patient survives for 5 years past the date of diagnosis, physicians will often consider that cancer cured. Those cancers include breast cancer, colon cancer, skin cancer, prostate cancer. Childhood leukemia is now being cured more frequently than in the past. A cure always depends on early detection. In the future genetic testing may be used to screen individuals for cancer risk.
Maple Shade High School in NJ (10th grade student)
635
How much of adaptation is due to genetic changes as oppossed to change in behavior?
     Les Biesecker, M.D.: Researching the clinical and molecular delineation of human malformation syndromes. Can't really quantify an answer to your question - both are important. Also, there are different kinds of adaptation. Note that humans have dramatically increased behavioral adaptation because of our markedly increased capacities for communication. The rate of genetic adaptation has not changed much at all in millenia.
St. Ignatius College Prep in IL (12th grade student)
636
Has gene therapy cured any genetic disorders or been benefited by the human genome project?
     David Bodine, M.D., Ph.D.: Investigating 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 and Yes. Hundreds of people with immune deficiencies, cancer, neurological diseases and blindness have all been cured by gene therapy. Because good news sells fewer papers than bad news, you really do not hear as much about these as you may have about the 4 people who were sick enough to be on a gene therapy trial, but unfortunately dies. The Genome project has been a huge help in identifying the genes that are malfunctioning - the ones that need to be put in by gene therapy
Peru High School in IN (9th grade student)
637
Is there a way to predict specific traits of a baby?
     Julie Sapp, Sc.M.: Counseling families with genetic conditions who participate in NHGRI research protocols at the NIH. Helping families understand the genetic basis of their condition and its inheritance and how best to cope with the medical and psychological effects of having a genetic condition. The answer to your question depends a bit on what you mean by "trait." During a pregnancy, there are a number of different testing procedures that women can choose to use. Some of these tests look at the number and structure of the fetus's chromosomes, the structures that hold our DNA. Other tests, like ultrasound, interpret sound wave to make a picture of the fetus, so that the anatomy of the fetus can be seen. These tests are not really designed to detect some of the things that we typically call "traits," such as the color of a person's eyes or hair.
Holy Family Catholic High School in MN (9th grade student)
638
What is sickle cell anemia?
     Les Biesecker, M.D.: Researching the clinical and molecular delineation of human malformation syndromes. Sickle cell disease is a blood disease caused by the change of a single nucleotide of DNA that codes for the hemoglobin gene. This change causes the hemoglobin to fold incorrectly when oxygen levels are low. This causes the red blood cells to back up and block blood vessels, and this causes lots of other complications.
Maple Shade High School in NJ (10th grade student)
639
How is human DNA similar to other organisms?
     Larry Brody, Ph.D.: Dr. Brody's lab investigates the connection between genetics and diseases related to birth defects and cancer. The DNA in us is the same chemical found in almost all organisms. It is the sequence of the DNA differs that from one organism to another.
Westview High School in CA (9th grade student)
640
How do you keep up to date with all the new information in this field like studies, research, discoveries, etc.
     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 USA. We write the 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. Great question! Keeping up is a challenge; we have to be life-long learners. Geneticists keep up in many ways. We read professional journals, belong to scientific list servs, attend meetings, discuss questions with our colleagues, and sometimes we look things up in genetics databases on the Internet. Like you, there are days when we learn about breaking news by reading the morning paper at breakfast. Genetics breakthroughs are happening everyday and are often of as much interest to you and the public as they are to us.
St. Bernard Catholic High School in CA (10th grade student)
641
What is gene therapy? Is it an introduction of a gene into the body? How?
     Faith Pangilinan, Ph.D.: Looking for genetic risk factors for human birth defects (mainly spina bifida). Gene therapy tries to fix a genetic disease by introducing a healthy copy of the mutated gene into the body. Researchers are trying to use different types of viruses to deliver healthy genes into cells, but a really effective way of doing this has not yet been found.
Samar (Higher Education student)
644
When was DNA first discovered?
     Larry Brody, Ph.D.: Dr. Brody's lab investigates the connection between genetics and diseases related to birth defects and cancer. DNA was first identified as the genetic material in the 1940's. The structure of DNA was discovered in 1953 by Watson and Crick.
Holy Family Catholic High School in MN (9th grade student)
645
What is the big controversy over stem cell research?
     David Bodine, M.D., Ph.D.: Investigating 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 over where they come from. There is a big debate in the country about whether life begins at conception. For those people, the use of embryos to generate stem cells is wrong. This has led to the ban on embryo derived stem cell research. The recent discoveries that allow almost any cell to be "re-programmed" into stem cells should make this a lot less controversial.
Maple Shade High School in NJ (10th grade student)
646
How hereditary is Marfan Syndome?
     Les Biesecker, M.D.: Researching the clinical and molecular delineation of human malformation syndromes. Marfan syndrome is inherited in an autosomal dominant pattern. For an affected person, they have a 50% probability with each conception that the offspring will be affected. All persons with Marfan syndrome should see a geneticist or other genetics professional.
Mary Roberts in IL ()
647
Larry Thompson, M.S., M.F.A. is it true that there are people working to make expecting parents be able to pick the childs gender, hair color, eye color...
     Larry Thompson, M.S., M.F.A.: Leads the Communications Branch at the Genome Institute. No, I don't think anyone is seriously working on that. The biology is extremely difficult and complicated, so it is unlikely to be effective given current technologies. Moreoever, this is a complicated social and ethical, and probably even legal, issue which I don't feel that the society has sufficiently grappled with, so it would probably be premature to actually do it.
East Forest High School in PA (8th grade student)
648
Dr. Bodine, you said that most identical twins come from a single egg. Can identical twins come from two eggs?
     David Bodine, M.D., Ph.D.: Investigating 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. Two eggs gives you paternal twins, born together but look different
Michael Donnelly in DC (Higher Education )
649
what are lactic acids?
     Larry Brody, Ph.D.: Dr. Brody's lab investigates the connection between genetics and diseases related to birth defects and cancer. Lactic acid is a chemical that can build up in your muscles when they work too hard. This is why your legs hurt when you sprint for a long time.
Kannapolis Middle School in NC (8th grade student)
650
Can mutations in DNA be a good thing?
     Belen Hurle, Ph.D.: Generating data for use in developing and refining computational tools for comparing genomic sequence from multiple vertebrate species. Absolutely. A mutation can increase the fitness of an individual to the environment where he lives. The individual is then more likely to reproduce successfully and soon the offspring of this individual will dominate the population.
Arleta High School in CA (11th grade student)
651
Does everthing that has DNA us the same letter as human or can they be different instead of ATCGU?
     Larry Brody, Ph.D.: Dr. Brody's lab investigates the connection between genetics and diseases related to birth defects and cancer. As far as we know, all organisms use the same four DNA bases that we use, AGCT. There are a few odd exceptions but they are pretty rare.
Lugoff-Elgin High School in SC (10th grade student)
652
a teacher at my school wnats to know if you really ride a harley
     Larry Thompson, M.S., M.F.A.: Leads the Communications Branch at the Genome Institute. So, I think this question was actually directed at Francis Collins, the director of the genome institute. Unfortunately, he had to leave the chat room before he could answer this, but I am here to tell ya, yea, he rides a big red, loud, Harley-Davidson motorcycle pretty much whenever he can.
Lugoff-Elgin High School in SC (10th grade student)
653
How do the genes decide what twin to go to when a woman is pregnant?
     David Bodine, M.D., Ph.D.: Investigating 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 a sperm and an egg combine, they make one zygote with 46 chromosomes. Those chromosomes duplicate and the zygote divides into two identical daughter cells. If these get separated, they will make two identical babies.
Maple Shade High School in NJ (10th grade student)
654
Do people with cystic fibrosis have a much shorter life span than people who dont?
     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 the Branch. yes, but we all need to wear seat belts and not smoke cigarettes. How long any one person lives depends on many things. when I started medicine people diagnosed with CF only lived at most to about 6 years old, but now many are living to adulthood. A few women have had children themselves. However in 2008 a person born with CF will still be more likely to die of their condition than from other causes (if they wear their seat belt).
Shikellamy High School in PA (9th grade student)
655
Is schizophrenia genetic?
     Jennifer Sloan, M.S., Ph.D., C.G.C.: Involved in Genetic Counseling, as well as studying the very rare metabolic condition Methylmalonic Acidemia, and the more common condition Neurofibromatosis Type I. Thanks for your question! Schizophrenia does have a genetic component meaning that close family members of someone with the condition are at higher risk vs. the general population to develop schizophrenia. If you are concerned about your family history you can talk to your local genetic counselor www.nsgc.org. You can also visit this website for more information about risks to family members http://www.schizophrenia.com/research/hereditygen.htm.
Samar (Higher Education student)
656
What are similarities between transcription and translation?
     Carla Easter, Ph.D.: Creates and implements genetic education programs. Works with the branch to create science education products for high school students. Both translation and transcription are processes involved in protein synthesis.
Holy Family Catholic High School in MN (9th grade student)
657
How much schooling does it take to become a geneticist?
     Faith Pangilinan, Ph.D.: Looking for genetic risk factors for human birth defects (mainly spina bifida). To work in a research lab you need to finish high school and college. If you want to run your own lab you'll also need to get a Ph.D. (typically 5-6 years). It's also very common to take a post-doctoral position for several years after completing your Ph.D., which allows you to further specialize, much like doctors who do internships and residencies after completing medical school.
Maple Shade High School in NJ (10th grade student)
658
What is the most common cancer or disease a baby can be born with?
     Julie Sapp, Sc.M.: Counseling families with genetic conditions who participate in NHGRI research protocols at the NIH. Helping families understand the genetic basis of their condition and its inheritance and how best to cope with the medical and psychological effects of having a genetic condition. Most babies are born healthy, and cancer is a very rare problem for a person to be born with. Other congenital problems, though, are more common; in fact, some estimates of the background risk for problems like birth defects or mental retardation could be as high as 3-5%.
Maple Shade High School in NJ (10th grade student)
659
Are there different nitrogen bases for different species?
     Carla Easter, Ph.D.: Creates and implements genetic education programs. Works with the branch to create science education products for high school students. The nitrogen bases that compose the DNA molecule are the same for every species.
Holy Family Catholic High School in MN (9th grade student)
660
Why is uracil present in RNA and not in DNA?
     Larry Brody, Ph.D.: Dr. Brody's lab investigates the connection between genetics and diseases related to birth defects and cancer. RNA has evolved to be a temporary carrier of information. It get used a few times and is broken down. Uracil is an less stable base than thymidine. DNA needs to be stable so it can be transmitted from one cell to another and to the next generation. You find thymidine in DNA.
Sandra Schleier Hernandez Puerto Rico (12th grade student)
661
Do the non-coding regions in DNA peform any functions?
     David Bodine, M.D., Ph.D.: Investigating 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 certainly do. Many genes make RNA in only one or a few kinds of cells. For example, hemoglobin RNA is only made in red blood cells. The ability of the globin genes to be active in red cells is determined by the non-coding DNA around them. Some of the most important signals come from DNA sequences over 100,000 bases away from the globin gene! We are really only just beginning to identify the important non-coding sequences.
Kannapolis Middle School in NC (8th grade student)
662
me podrias decir por que gente esta gorda como por ejemplo fat albert?
     Belen Hurle, Ph.D.: Generating data for use in developing and refining computational tools for comparing genomic sequence from multiple vertebrate species. La obesidad tiene un componente genetico y un componente ambiental. Algunas personas tienen mucha dificultad mantener un peso ideal por mucho que intenten dietas y un estilo de vida saludable, porque geneticamente estan predispuestas a la obesidad. Otras personas comen muchisimo y nunca engordan. Otras personas podrian mantenerse en forma facilmente pero tienen habitos de salud pesimos (sedentarismo, comidas grasas, sodas etc).
Jordan High School in CA (9th grade student)
663
Is there any way to reverse the effects of autism?
     Dale Lea, R.N., M.P.H., C.G.C., F.A.A.N.: Developing genetics, health education and community involvement programs and resources, and translating genetic and genomic information for the public. There is currently no cure for autism. Therapies and behavioral interventions are designed to treat specific symptoms and can bring about substantial improvement. The ideal treatment plan coordinates therapies and interventions that target the core symptoms of autism: impaired social interaction, problems with verbal and nonverbal communication, and obsessive or repetitive routines and interests. Most professionals agree that the earlier the intervention, the better. For many children, autism symptoms improve with treatment and with age. Some children with autism grow up to lead normal or near-normal lives. Children whose language skills regress early in life, usually before the age of 3, appear to be at risk of developing epilepsy or seizure-like brain activity. During adolescence, some children with autism may become depressed or experience behavioral problems. Parents of these children should be ready to adjust treatment for their child as needed.
Kittanning Senior High School in PA (10th grade student)
664
Is it possible to control the sex chromosomes in a zygote(after fertilization)in order to choose the sex of a baby?
     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 USA. We write the 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. One of the wonders of reproduction is its mystery. The sex chromosomes in the zygote are contributed by the egg and sperm. At fertilization the sex chromosome make up of the embryo is set. Experts in assisted reproductive technologies may be able to increase the likelihood that an egg will be fertilized by an X or Y bearing sperm, but after the zygote is forms, the sex chromosomes cannot be changed.
Arleta High School in CA (11th grade student)
665
is ADD hereditary?
     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 the Branch. there are many ways that an observable condition like ADD can be inherited or passed on (heritable - not the same as inherited). When we look at identicle twins with ADD they are more likely to both have ADD than nonidenticle twins. So there is a heritable part to ADD. IT IS NOT LIKE THE WAY BLOOD TYPES ARE HERITABLE. So you have to think hard about this kind of inheritance.
Maple Shade High School in NJ (10th grade student)
666
Can you discuss the future of DNA research and its implications?
     Vence Bonham, J.D.: The ethical, legal, social and policy implications of genomic discoveries, particularly health professionals' and lay persons' understanding of race, ethnicity and genetics. We are continuing to learn about the human genome. Future research at the National Institutes of Health will focus on how we can use new genomic knowledge to improve human health.
Arleta High School in CA (10th grade student)
667
I am planning on becoming a doctor. What was the most challenging aspect of your medical schooling?
     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 the Branch. learning to not believe everything you are taught is perfectly correct, only approximately correct and then seeing a sick person and admitting that is the level of our knowledge.
Waterville High School in WA (10th grade student)
668
How did DNA day start? What is the history behind it?
     Larry Thompson, M.S., M.F.A.: Leads the Communications Branch at the Genome Institute. DNA Day was launched in April 2003 as part of the celebration of the completion of the Human Genome Project that month and the 50th anniversary of the publication of the scientific report by James Watson and Francis Crick that described, for the first time, the double helical shape of the DNA molecule. That simple structure implied many things about how DNA encoded genetic information and copied it so it could be passed from generation to generation. After the success of the first year, the genome institute decided to continue doing it.
Shikellamy High School in PA (9th grade student)
669
Approximately how long does the process of meiosis take after it has started?
     David Bodine, M.D., Ph.D.: Investigating 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. Depends on the organism and the gender of the organism. In female mammals, the first meiotic division usually happens before they are born. The eggs just lie waiting for signals when the animal is older to complete the second division, and then only 1 or a few at a time for a few years. In males, sperm are made almost continuously and the process takes about a day.
Arleta High School in CA (11th grade student)
670
Where is the DNA genome database located?
     Belen Hurle, Ph.D.: Generating data for use in developing and refining computational tools for comparing genomic sequence from multiple vertebrate species. Try http://genome.ucsc.edu. This site contains the reference sequence and working draft assemblies for a large collection of genomes including human.
Parker High School in WI (11th grade student)
671
In the future will it be possible to detect abonormalities or diseases in the DNA and fix them before a baby is born?
     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 the Branch. That is possible right now today, but the risk of losing the pregnancy is so high we are not ready to offer that on a regular basis. It also would require us to decide what an abnormality is - is it deafness, or being short? you have to be careful about starting this service.
Arleta High School in CA (11th grade student)
672
Is it possible that someone, somewhere, has your exact DNA?
     David Bodine, M.D., Ph.D.: Investigating 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. Not likely, there are 3 billion bases of DNA in a cell. The chance that 1 of even 10 billion people on earth has the same sequence is too small to measure.
Joliet Central High School in IL (9th grade student)
673
Why do people's hair naturally curl or straighten?
     Larry Brody, Ph.D.: Dr. Brody's lab investigates the connection between genetics and diseases related to birth defects and cancer. There are proteins in your hair that get linked together. These make the hair very tough. The pattern used to link the hair differs between people. Some cross-linking patterns produce curly hair, others straight. Your genes help to determine which pattern you have. You can use chemicals to rearrange the patterns of the linking. This is how perms can straighten curly hair and curl straight hair.
Holy Family Catholic High School in MN (9th grade student)
674
is it possible for a white person to turn black if they had enough tyrosinase?
     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 the Branch. No. But if you mean can anyone get darker if their tyrosinase level changes in the skin, then yes. But we all have more tyrosinase than we use, so that is not what causes one person to be darker than another.
Flint Northern Academy in MI (10th grade student)
675
Is it possible to clone anything thats alive, even insects?
     David Bodine, M.D., Ph.D.: Investigating 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. Theoretically yes. In fact many insects like ants and bees are clones. Worker bees and ants are made only from eggs derived from the mother. They do not get a chance to get a sperm from different fathers, so they are very much like the queen.
Kannapolis Middle School in NC (8th grade student)
676
Is it true that police use DNA samples as much as they do in crime dramas, such as Law and Order or CSI?
     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 USA. We write the 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. Indeed, DNA samples are used widely at crime scenes and to identify victims of mass fatalities. What you see on Law and Order and CSI is a dramatization of what occurs in day-to-day detective work. It is impossible for us to say whether what you see on TV is what commonly happens in real life.
Elko High School in NV (12th grade student)
677
How long will a child live if he or she has Tay-Sachs disease?
     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 the Branch. Right now it is about two to 5 years old. But once we get better at the enzyme therapy that is given right now, and also a treatment called substrate reduction, these individuals may live much longer
Kannapolis Middle School in NC (8th grade student)
678
In what way is science and math combined?
     Larry Brody, Ph.D.: Dr. Brody's lab investigates the connection between genetics and diseases related to birth defects and cancer. Math is an important foundation for all of the sciences. You will use it in chemistry, physics and genetics. It helps us describe what we observe. Without it, we would be forced to describe things in unclear ways.
John C. Fremont High School in CA (10th grade student)
679
Why can't dogs see in color?
     David Bodine, M.D., Ph.D.: Investigating 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 is a popular misconception. The can see colors, perhaps not the way we see colors, but they see them. They have a different ration of cones and rods in the eye (the cells that are used to distinguish color) than we do, so people think think that they are color blind.
John C. Fremont High School in CA (10th grade student)
680
How long does it take for a DNA strand to replicate?
     Belen Hurle, Ph.D.: Generating data for use in developing and refining computational tools for comparing genomic sequence from multiple vertebrate species. Bacteria can replicate about 100,000 bases per minute. Eukaryotic DNA polymerases are slower than bacterial DNA polymerases and can replicate about 500 - 5,000 bases per minute. To make up for the slower replication, eukaryotes have more origins of replication.
Holy Family Catholic High School in MN (9th grade student)
681
What is sickle cell anemia?
     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 the Branch. This is a medical condition where the blood cells that are red (erythrocytes) have a protein inside it that can, sometimes, clump and make the cell look like a cresent moon - or an old fashion farm tool called a sickle. This is the result of two genes that are changed in the cells that make the protein.
Maple Shade High School in NJ (10th grade student)
682
Kannapolis Middle School in NC (Higher Education teacher)
683
If someone in your family has cancer, what are your chances of developing it?
     Julie Sapp, Sc.M.: Counseling families with genetic conditions who participate in NHGRI research protocols at the NIH. Helping families understand the genetic basis of their condition and its inheritance and how best to cope with the medical and psychological effects of having a genetic condition. The answer to your question is actually quite complicated and depends on a number of different factors, such as the type of cancer that is in the family and the age at which the cancer was diagnosed. We do know of a few specific genes that, when changed or altered, significantly increase a person's chances to develop cancer. The increased risk that having one of these gene changes confers varies widely depending on the gene. People who are concerned about their family history of cancer can meet with a genetic counselor who specializes in cancer genetics. You can find a genetic counselor with this specialty in your area by visiting www.nsgc.org Thanks for your question!
Maple Shade High School in NJ (10th grade student)
684
What is the difference between RNA and DNA
     Larry Brody, Ph.D.: Dr. Brody's lab investigates the connection between genetics and diseases related to birth defects and cancer. DNA and RNA are very similar. There is one chemical difference that makes DNA very stable and RNA unstable. In this way, your genes can always stay the same but the product of these genes (the RNA) can change.
Shikellamy High School in PA (9th grade student)
686
How long do you think it will take to cure cancer, asthma, and other common 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 the Branch. I don't know, but medicine has been working at it for 425years with the scientific method and we are doing pretty well.
Palms Middle School in CA (7th grade student)
687
How can you determine if you or your parents have a disease in your genes?
     Dale Lea, R.N., M.P.H., C.G.C., F.A.A.N.: Developing genetics, health education and community involvement programs and resources, and translating genetic and genomic information for the public. A first step to determining whether you or your parents have a are at risk for a genetic disease is to know your family history. Certain diseases such as cancer, heart disease, diabetes and stroke can run in families. Knowing your family history will tell you whether you are at increased risk to have a particular common or rare genetic disease. Another way to find out if you have a disease in your genes is to have specific genetic testing. You can talk with your doctor about your concerns or meet with a genetic counselor to discuss your risk and steps you can take to learn more about it.
Westview High School in CA (10th grade student)
688
Maple Shade High School in NJ (10th grade student)
689
Did scientists ever find the DNA of Anastasia and Alexis from the Romanov family?
     Belen Hurle, Ph.D.: Generating data for use in developing and refining computational tools for comparing genomic sequence from multiple vertebrate species. Nicholas II, Empress Alexandra, 13-year-old Crown Prince Alexei, and the prince's four sisters were taken prisoner in 1917. Their captors fatally shot all the prisoners on July 17, 1918. DNA testing determined skeletal remains unearthed from shallow graves in Siberia in 1991 were most likely those of the couple and three of their four daughters. New bone shards discovered last summer, burned and doused with acid, may be those of Alexei and Maria. DNA testing is underway.
Manley Career Academy High School in IL (9th grade student)
690
When scientists look through a microscope at a strand of DNA can they actually see the double helix? If it is replicating, can they see it replicating?
     David Bodine, M.D., Ph.D.: Investigating 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 can come close. No microscope has the resolution to see the individual bases yet, but you can see chromosome strands. You can also see DNA ploymerase binding to the strands and other proteins (RNA polymerase, DNA binding proteins) too. However, this has never been done on DNA from living cells, so we have never seen the process of replication in something like a movie or time lapse format.
Westview High School in CA (9th grade student)
691
What is molecular medicine? Does it involve DNA studies ?
     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 the Branch. Yes, it involves DNA studies. Many people use the word molecular to mean genes, genetics and DNA. Chemists are sometimes upset. I think of molecular medicine as the use of DNA techniques to understand and customize medicine to each individual
ABABU Center for Biological Information Technology, RAJAHMUNDRY, INDIA (11th grade student)
692
why do genes must turn off?
     Larry Brody, Ph.D.: Dr. Brody's lab investigates the connection between genetics and diseases related to birth defects and cancer. It would be very confusing if all of your genes were on all of the time. Your hair cells need to turn on "hair genes" and your eyes need to turn on eye genes. Imagine what would happen if this was mixed up.
Palms Middle School in CA (7th grade student)
693
Are scientists all old white men?
     Vence Bonham, J.D.: The ethical, legal, social and policy implications of genomic discoveries, particularly health professionals' and lay persons' understanding of race, ethnicity and genetics. No! I happen to be an African American social scientist that studies how the public and health professionals understand human genetic variation and identity. Many of the research laboratories at the National Human Genome Research Institute are led by women and younger scientists. Many fields of science including genomics need to increase the number of scientists that are from different backgrounds.
MCA in MD (10th grade student)
694
How do you take DNA out of a strawberry?
     Faith Pangilinan, Ph.D.: Looking for genetic risk factors for human birth defects (mainly spina bifida). DNA is in every cell of the strawberry, so a good way to start is to smash up the strawberry to separate the cells from each other. Adding a mixture of soap and salt breaks open the cells and separates the DNA from the rest of the cell and its parts. Filtering this mix through cheesecloth gives the liquid part that has DNA. When ice-cold alcohol is carefully layered on top of this, DNA becomes visible where these layers of liquid meet. As the DNA floats into the top layer, it can be spooled on a glass rod.
Palms Middle School in CA (7th grade student)
695
How similar is an offspring's DNA to it's parent?
     David Bodine, M.D., Ph.D.: Investigating 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. Half of your DNA comes from each parent, so 50% of the DNA is identical to one of your parents and 50% to the other. think about this: Each of your parents are 50% of their parents, so 25% of your DNA should match one of your grandparents.
Bowie High School in MD (11th grade student)
696
Is there a gene for allergies?
     Dale Lea, R.N., M.P.H., C.G.C., F.A.A.N.: Developing genetics, health education and community involvement programs and resources, and translating genetic and genomic information for the public. A specific allergy is not usually inherited, but the tendency to develop allergies is often passed down through families. If both parents have allergies, their child is likely to have allergies. However, your chance of develop allergies seems to be greater if your mother has allergies.
Bednarcik Junior High School in IL (8th grade student)
697
Is cancer heriditary?
     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 the Branch. Sort of. Genes are instructions. Some genes are the instructions to make a baby grow arms and legs before birth. Those genes need to be turned off after the arms are made. If those genes are accidentally turned on later - they will cause growth that is a cancer. All of the genes are inherited from parents, but some can change during life. So some cancers are the genes from a parent, and some happens after birth when these genes change on there own.
Kittanning Senior High School in PA (10th grade student)
698
What are Bio-Markers?
     Larry Brody, Ph.D.: Dr. Brody's lab investigates the connection between genetics and diseases related to birth defects and cancer. These are things we can measure that can help us diagnose or predict how healthy or sick you might be. They often can be tested by taking a little bit of blood.
Sam Johnson in NJ ()
699
Is it likely that the Human Genome Project will ever result in "designer" children, and do you think it will ever become ethical?
     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 USA. We write the 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. Your question is an interesting one; what you might consider the "perfect" designer child might not be the same as what I might want for my child. So, who is to say what a "designer" child would be like? What I do think the Human Genome Project will be able to do---and is already doing---is to help those families whose children are at risk for genetic diseases live healthier lives. All agree that this is a very ethical use of this new science.
Evans Middles School in IA (8th grade teacher)
700
Has anyone cloned a human being yet?
     Belen Hurle, Ph.D.: Generating data for use in developing and refining computational tools for comparing genomic sequence from multiple vertebrate species. Some have claimed so, but such claims were never scientifically backed up. I doubt it has happened yet. Because of ethical concerns, legislation or guidelines to ban human cloning are pending in dozens of nations, including the United States. Several countries, including Britain, Israel, Japan and Germany, already have banned it.
Shikellamy High School in PA (9th grade student)
701
How has the discovery of DNA affected the medications we are prescribed?
     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 the Branch. There are several genes that affect how fast or slow a medication works. DNA analysis is helping us know who should get more and who need less or they will be getting too much.
Kannapolis Middle School in NC (Higher Education teacher)
702
Can an individual get a microarray and if so, how much would it cost?
     David Bodine, M.D., Ph.D.: Investigating 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. You can and there are companies that will do it for you. They are charging thousands of dollars. You may want to think about how much of the information will be useful to you. We certainly are a long way from understanding the effects of all the changes that have been seen in humans, much less the new ones we are discovering every day.
Parker High School in WI (11th grade student)
703
Are there genes that activate breast cancer?
     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 the Branch. yes. We only know a few but the ones we know are called p53, BRCA1 and BRCA2 to name 3.
Genesee School District in MI (10th grade student)
704
Westview High School in CA (9th grade student)
705
Is there a genetic link to cervical cancer?
     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 the Branch. yes, there are genes in small particles called viruses. One kind of virus called human papalloma virus has genes that can get into cell during infection with the virus. these genes can cause the cervical cells to become cancerous.
Maple Shade High School in NJ (10th grade student)
706
How long did it take you to become an expert in the genetic field and do you love doing what you do?
     Faith Pangilinan, Ph.D.: Looking for genetic risk factors for human birth defects (mainly spina bifida). I went to college to get my bachelor's degree, and then to graduate school to get my Ph.D. I am looking for genetic risk factors for birth defects, and I absolutely love what I am doing! If you enjoy solving puzzles, using hands-on skills and constantly learning new things then you may love being a scientist too.
Shikellamy High School in PA (9th grade student)
707
is it possible to prevent adult onset diseases with gene therapy ?
     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 the Branch. absolutely yes. In fact most gene therapy trials are being aimed at adult onset diseases called cancer - See the work of Dr. Steven Rosenberg.
ABABU Center for Biological Information Technology, RAJAHMUNDRY, INDIA (Higher Education student)
708
Why is a codon only three sequences? Can it ever be more than three?
     Belen Hurle, Ph.D.: Generating data for use in developing and refining computational tools for comparing genomic sequence from multiple vertebrate species. To my knowledge there are no codons in nature with a number of bases different than three.
Westview High School in CA (9th grade student)
709
Researchers have said that it is now possible to discover if children will develop Autism by looking at their chromosomes before they are born. Is this correct?
     Julie Sapp, Sc.M.: Counseling families with genetic conditions who participate in NHGRI research protocols at the NIH. Helping families understand the genetic basis of their condition and its inheritance and how best to cope with the medical and psychological effects of having a genetic condition. All our DNA is organized into structures called chromosomes, and there are prenatal tests that can look at a fetus's chromosomes. These tests can tell if the fetus has an extra or missing chromosome or if parts of two chromosomes have exchanged places or are missing or extra. Some of the results of these chromosome problems are well understood. An example of this is Down syndrome, which is caused by having an extra copy of chromosome 21. Autism is less well understood; some children with chromosome problems may develop autism, and many children with autism have normal chromosomes. This means that in most cases, looking at a fetus's chromosomes is not a good way to predict whether the baby will develop autism.
Arleta High School in CA (11th grade student)
710
Which are the three major factors that can determine if you are going to get breast cancer or not?
     Larry Brody, Ph.D.: Dr. Brody's lab investigates the connection between genetics and diseases related to birth defects and cancer. Having an family member with breast cancer is the strongest risk factor. After that risk can changed by how much exercise you get (more is good), what you eat (low fat is good) and how many children (more are good) you might have. Compared to your family history, each of these others are not very strong risk factors
Arleta High School in CA (11th grade student)
711
whats a biome?
     David Bodine, M.D., Ph.D.: Investigating 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 ecological term is a habitat and everything in it. In the genomics field, we use it to describe all of the different organisms in a given environment, which can be distinguished by their DNA sequence. For example, there are trillions of bacteria and other microrganisms in your intestines. DNA sequencing of their DNA can tell us how many different kinds of each there are and how many of each species there are in the intestinal microbiome.
Bowie High School in MD (11th grade student)
712
Do you have a particular genetic disease that you prefer to study? If so, which one, and why?
     Larry Brody, Ph.D.: Dr. Brody's lab investigates the connection between genetics and diseases related to birth defects and cancer. I am currently studying the genetics of birth defects. Our hope is that if we understand how they happen, we can prevent them.
Kannapolis Middle School in NC (Higher Education teacher)
713
Are all hereditary diseases recessive?
     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 the Branch. No there are many forms of inheritance, recessive, dominant , X linked, mitochondrial, holandric and even more including non mendelian such as the Sherman paradox of fragile X. But this is beyond high school. keep learning
Arleta High School in CA (10th grade student)
714
Are the greatest pro athletes really talented? Is it in their genes or did they just work really hard to become that good?
     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 USA. We write the 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. Wouldn't it be great if we were all born talented? It turns out that talent is only the first step in the equation for artists and musicians as well as athletes. Even those with talent have to work to become successful. Because athletic success is a combination of nature and nurture, many people without innate talent who work hard are very successful, too.
Arleta High School in CA (10th grade student)
715
Why can't we just remove the genes that cause cancer?
     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 the Branch. These genes are what we used as a fertilized egg to grow from a microscopic beach ball ( the egg) to a baby with eyes and hearts and limbs. We need these genes but then we have to turn it off.
Westview High School in CA (9th grade student)
716
Given the dire situation of global warming, how heavily do you see DNA technology with regards to GMO becoming a much depended upon resource for cultivating crops? How would you suggest the general population better understand the benefits of the combined measures of this technology with our day to day responsibilities to combat climate change?
     Larry Thompson, M.S., M.F.A.: Leads the Communications Branch at the Genome Institute. This is a very complicated question for which there is probably not very much actual data, but I can offer an opinion: I think it is likely that geneticly modifying organisms that we use for food could help with climate change by reducing the amount of fertilizers and pesticides that need to be produced and spread in the environment to maintain the current level of food production. This is, however, an emotional issue becaues many people have a negative reaction to the idea that food can be genetically modified. They just think it is a bad idea to eat genes, even though all foods contain genes. Moreover, there is no difference between the "naturally occurring genes" in say a corn plant and the genes that are added to give the food product some production advantage.
Rosa L. Parks High School in NJ (teacher)
717
How would you get DNA out of an ant if it's so small?
     Belen Hurle, Ph.D.: Generating data for use in developing and refining computational tools for comparing genomic sequence from multiple vertebrate species. An ant is as big as an elephant in terms of extracting DNA! Technology is such these days that you can get DNA out of ONE SINGLE cell.
Westview High School in CA (9th grade student)
718
I watch crime scene investigation shows and some of the situations and crimes seen a little far fetched, do they find they find the criminals the same way? Or is Hollywood just beefing up the crimes to make their shows interesting?
     Vence Bonham, J.D.: The ethical, legal, social and policy implications of genomic discoveries, particularly health professionals' and lay persons' understanding of race, ethnicity and genetics. Genomics is becoming an important part of forensics. DNA provides unique information that can be used to identify a suspect. However, Hollywood glamorizes criminal investigations and typically resolves the investigation in less than one hour.
West Seneca East Senior High School in NY (10th grade student)
719
Can we use genetic engineering to alter a specific feature like hair color?
     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 the Branch. yes, but doctors have decided to start with conditions that are more serious, like baldness (speaking personally)
West Seneca East Senior High School in NY (10th grade student)
720
What causes genetic variation?
     Larry Brody, Ph.D.: Dr. Brody's lab investigates the connection between genetics and diseases related to birth defects and cancer. Whenever your cells divide they have to make a copy of all their DNA. They make almost perfect copies but mistakes do happen. These can be passed on to the next generation. Most of these mistake do not cause a problem and are just carried around. Some change the way we look or may make us sick.
Arleta High School in CA (10th grade student)
721
What led Crick and Watson to find the structure of DNA?
     David Bodine, M.D., Ph.D.: Investigating 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 crystal structure of nucleic acid that was done by Rosiland Franklin. Rosiland interpreted her structure as best she could, but it did not make sense. Watson was a geneticist and Crick was a physicist. By combining their different ways of looking at things, and with input from chemists whose names have been forgotten, Watson and Crick realized that Rosiland Franklin had not accounted for water in her interpretation. When the built their model (crick's strong point) they had the water in, but the bases did not match until a chemistry student told them that they were using the bases in their incorrect chemical form. When they used the right forms and the water, the model checked out.
Westview High School in CA (9th grade student)
722
Were you always interested in science?
     Carla Easter, Ph.D.: Creates and implements genetic education programs. Works with the branch to create science education products for high school students. I have been interested in science since I was in elementary school.
Jackson High School in MO (11th grade student)
723
What kinds of laboratory methods did you use to find the sequence of human DNA?
     David Bodine, M.D., Ph.D.: Investigating 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. Me,none. The Genome Project broke the DNA up into pieces called BACS, and mapped each one to the genome. Because they overlapped, they were able to bridge across the whole genome. Then they broke up the BACS into smaller pieces and sequences each one. Because of the overlap, they were able to put together the whole sequence of the genome.
Kannapolis Middle School in NC (Higher Education teacher)
724
What tools are needed to look at/study DNA?
     Larry Brody, Ph.D.: Dr. Brody's lab investigates the connection between genetics and diseases related to birth defects and cancer. We use lots of machines and tools in the lab to study DNA. You can even use a chemical that binds to DNA and makes it glow so that you can see it. The most important tool you need to study DNA is a good education.
Westview High School in CA (9th grade student)
725
Do you feel that germ-line genetic engineering is too dangerous since it can possibly lead to a revival of eugenics and asocial hierarchy?
     Vence Bonham, J.D.: The ethical, legal, social and policy implications of genomic discoveries, particularly health professionals' and lay persons' understanding of race, ethnicity and genetics. I think we need to be thoughtful about the potential revival of eugenics. We can learn much from history. As technology advances we need be thoughtful how it is used.
Alpharetta High School in GA (11th grade student)
726
What mutation can lead to a hyperactive pituitary gland, or what gene mutation causes a giant)?
     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 the Branch. The easiest answer would be a growth gene. But there are also genes that cause cells to grow too much (these are the cancer genes). One gene causes a condition called Soto syndrome NSD1 is the gene name for this. Soto is called cerebral gigantism because this people have big heads (like my boss)
Westview High School in CA (10th grade student)
727
Is DNA in everything?
     Carla Easter, Ph.D.: Creates and implements genetic education programs. Works with the branch to create science education products for high school students. Everything living thing has DNA. Although, some viruses have RNA and you may or may not consider them living.
Westview High School in CA (9th grade student)
728
What made you research DNA, and not anyhting else?
     David Bodine, M.D., Ph.D.: Investigating 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'm not sure. All I know ids that when I first learned about genetics in the 4th grade, I was absolutely hooked. Every time we did genetics the rest of the way through school, I was fascinated. In fact it was the only thing about school that I really liked. If I had to do it over again, I would have tried to get excited about the rest too. because I was not a good student, it took me longer to get where I am, studying genetics every day.
Shikellamy High School in PA (9th grade student)
729
If scientists were to alter an individual's DNA, could life be prolonged?
     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 USA. We write the 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. If life could be prolonged, what do you think that would look like? Would you stay in a "holding" pattern as a young adult? Or at the age you are the day your DNA is altered? Or maybe, you would just get older and older in your same body. And, as you got older and older you'd have to remember not to drink or smoke and to exercise, eat well and live a healthy lifestyle. Environment will always have a role in our health and aging.
Westview High School in CA (9th grade student)
730
Can a person have mutated DNA, and not know it?
     Belen Hurle, Ph.D.: Generating data for use in developing and refining computational tools for comparing genomic sequence from multiple vertebrate species. The answer is yes. We humans acquire an average of 100 mutations per individual per generation. In other words, you carry about 100 mutations that were not present in either of your parents. I bet you did not know that you are actually a mutant!
Westview High School in CA (9th grade student)
731
Can congenital heart conditions (and other congenital conditions) be genetic and inheritable or are they more likely caused by an outside teratogen?
     Julie Sapp, Sc.M.: Counseling families with genetic conditions who participate in NHGRI research protocols at the NIH. Helping families understand the genetic basis of their condition and its inheritance and how best to cope with the medical and psychological effects of having a genetic condition. Congenital heart defects are actually among the most common birth defects. Sometimes, a congenital heart defect can be part of a specific genetic condition, but isolated congenital heart defects are estimated to occur in as many 3-5 in every 1000 births. First-degree relatives of individuals with a congenital heart defect are at a slightly increased risk to have a congenital heart defect themselves. One example of a teratogen that can cause congenital heart defect is thalidomide. You can learn more about congenital heart defects by visiting http://www.americanheart.org/presenter.jhtml?identifier=4565
Athens High School in AL (12th grade student)
732
Is there a syndrome for people who only have a Y chromosome?
     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 the Branch. no. You need more than a y chromosome to be born. There are 22 pairs of "regular chromosomes" and there are genes on the X chromosome that are important to be born. So you need at least 22 regular chromosomes and at least one X. Rarely we see an miscarried pregnancy that has only a placenta and these cells have only a Y and no X, but also no baby.
Westview High School in CA (9th grade student)
733
What is the latest DNA discovery?
     Mary Schueler, Ph.D.: Comparing the DNA sequence of essential chromosomal regions from multiple primates to define functional changes that have occurred during evolution. Discoveries are being made all the time. With the recent sequencing of the human genome, advances in disease research are coming quickly. Recently, genes possibly involved in diabetes have been isolated. Each new advance leads to more research and even more discovery. Cures for disease are further down the line as each gene discovery requires much investigation into the role that it plays in a given disease.
LaSalle Academy in RI (9th grade student)
734
Westview High School in CA (10th grade student)
735
Elko High School in NV (12th grade student)
736
What is a lagging strand?
     David Bodine, M.D., Ph.D.: Investigating 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. DNA is synthesized from 5' to 3' or left to right if you like. The top strand can be replicated continuously, because when it opens up it opens up in a 5' to 3' direction. But remember that the bottom strand is antiparallel, or is 3' to 5'. Because of this only short stretches of DNA can be synthesized on this strand as more and more 5' template is exposed. This is a little slower, because all these short stretches have to be joined and hence this is the lagging strand.
Lourdes in FL (9th grade student)
737
What are the current approaches to gene therapy in hemophilia?
     Julie Sapp, Sc.M.: Counseling families with genetic conditions who participate in NHGRI research protocols at the NIH. Helping families understand the genetic basis of their condition and its inheritance and how best to cope with the medical and psychological effects of having a genetic condition. This is a great question and I wish I had more specific details to share with you. However, gene therapy is a technology that is still in the early stages of development. I hope that when someone poses a similar question during a DNA Day 10 or 15 years from now, the answer will be more specific and indicate our success!
Arleta High School in CA (11th grade student)
738
Why is crossing over an important part of meoiosis 1?
     Mary Schueler, Ph.D.: Comparing the DNA sequence of essential chromosomal regions from multiple primates to define functional changes that have occurred during evolution. Crossing over is essential for two main reasons. First, it is crossing over that provides genetic diversity from generation to generation. It is why you have DNA in your genome from both your mother's parents and both of your father's parents. It is how each of us is unique. Second, crossing over appears to be important for proper chromosome segregation. The cross over stabilizes the tetrad formed when two chromosome homologs align with each other at the metaphase plate.
Arleta High School in CA (10th grade student)
739
What's the most number of chromosomes found in a living organism? What organism?
     Belen Hurle, Ph.D.: Generating data for use in developing and refining computational tools for comparing genomic sequence from multiple vertebrate species. A protozoa by the name Aulacantha has a staggering 1600 chromosomes! In contrast, the males ants of species Myrmecia pilosula only have one chromosome (females have two).
Westview High School in CA (9th grade student)
740
Westview High School in CA (10th grade student)
741
When a girl is diagnosed with Turner syndrome does it affect anything but physical characteristics?
     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 the Branch. YES! this is a great question. Because all the genes are in every cell, we are discovering many other changes as we follow young women with Turner syndrome. Unfortunately women with turner syndrome rarely are able to have babies as adults. they can also have problems with body growth in puberty - but we know how to treat this. In the last few years we have found that older adults with turner syndrome are at risk for a bubble (aneurysm) in the abdomen that can burst and cause death. We now watch for that in adults.
Westview High School in CA (9th grade student)
742
What is stem cell research?
     Larry Brody, Ph.D.: Dr. Brody's lab investigates the connection between genetics and diseases related to birth defects and cancer. Stems cells are cells that have not yet decided what they will be when they mature. Scientist are doing research on them because they think that they can be used to repair damaged cells. For example, when someone has an accident that damages their spine, their nerve cells do not grow back. It might be possible to use stems cells to grow new nerves. It would be great if we could use a person's own stems cells to fix their disease. We don't know how to do this yet. We do know how to produce stem cells from embryos. So people think it is okay to use embryos for research others think it is not okay.
Arleta High School in CA (11th grade student)
743
How integral is the ELSI Research program to NHGRI?
     Vence Bonham, J.D.: The ethical, legal, social and policy implications of genomic discoveries, particularly health professionals' and lay persons' understanding of race, ethnicity and genetics. ELSI is the Ethical Legal, Social Implications Research Program was established in 1990 to foster basic and applied research on ethical legal and social implications of genetic and genomic research for individuals, families and communities. The ELSI program is extremely important to NHGRI and will become more important as genomic knowledge and technologies increasingly impact the lives of everyone.
Fairmont State University in WV (Higher Education student)
744
Does a scientist have a tight schedule?
     David Bodine, M.D., Ph.D.: Investigating 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 have a lot of deadlines, but those are mostly ones we put on ourselves. we want our answers fast and we want to get on to the next experiment, so it seems like there are a lot of deadlines, but that is because we get so excited about results.
Arleta High School in CA (10th grade student)
745
What do the DNA base pairs do?
     Mary Schueler, Ph.D.: Comparing the DNA sequence of essential chromosomal regions from multiple primates to define functional changes that have occurred during evolution. A gene is made up of a series of DNA base pairs. Each base pair joins the two strands of the DNA helix. 3 DNA base pairs encode a single amino acid when DNA is translated into protein.
Shikellamy High School in PA (9th grade student)
746
Arleta High School in CA (10th grade student)
747
Can more than two chromosomes cross over at once?
     David Bodine, M.D., Ph.D.: Investigating 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. All chromosomes cross over at least once during meiosis, and there can be multiple cross overs per chromosome, particularly for the longer (bigger) ones.
Westview High School in CA (9th grade student)
748
Why did you decide to study DNA and other aspects of genetics?
     Larry Brody, Ph.D.: Dr. Brody's lab investigates the connection between genetics and diseases related to birth defects and cancer. I enjoyed genetics in school because it combined biology, chemistry and math. Later, I realized that doing genetics research could help us figure out why people get sick.
Arleta High School in CA (11th grade student)
749
What gene is responsible for children with asthma? How does it transfer from parents?
     Flavia Facio, M.S., C.G.C.: Interested in learning the contribution of genetics to common diseases, such as heart disease and cancer. Asthma is considered a complex disease. This means that environment and genes play a role in causing asthma. At this point there isn't one gene that has been identified to cause asthma. Research is ongoing and we will probably find a number of genes in the future that predispose someone to develop this disease.
Virginia Tech in VA (Higher Education student)
750
My dad has red green color blindness, and his mom's dad has red green color blindness and nobody else does. Is it true that my son will have red green color blindness also?
     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 the Branch. If you are a female, then you have a 50% chance of having a male child with this type of color blindness from the x chromosome you have from your father. There are some other forms of colorblindness that are not on the X chromosome, and there are different recurrence risks for those. Some women can have an eye exam and this can tell if your eyes are also grew with this genetic change in some of the cells
Souderton Area High School in PA (10th grade student)
751
How do you not kill the ant when you are extracting DNA from it? Have you ever killed any other organisms while taking out DNA?
     Belen Hurle, Ph.D.: Generating data for use in developing and refining computational tools for comparing genomic sequence from multiple vertebrate species. I am sorry but you DO kill the ant. I sacrificed some mice when I was a graduate student bit I am not comfortable doing it anymore. Fortunately, all my current research is done using blood samples.
Westview High School in CA (9th grade student)
752
Can genetic diseases ever be prevented?
     Julie Sapp, Sc.M.: Counseling families with genetic conditions who participate in NHGRI research protocols at the NIH. Helping families understand the genetic basis of their condition and its inheritance and how best to cope with the medical and psychological effects of having a genetic condition. I think that the bigger question behind yours is "Will we ever fully understand the CAUSES of genetic diseases?" Although we've seen huge advances in our understanding of single gene conditions like cystic fibrosis and sickle cell anemia, we still have a long way to go toward understanding the different contributions that our genes, the interactions between our genes, and our environments have on both health and disease.
Westview High School in CA (9th grade student)
753
Are identical twins REALLY identical in terms of their DNA?
     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 the Branch. Pretty darn close. DNA is a chemical, but that means that when it is copied there are a few changes per hundred million copies. So there are some cells in your body that have a few changes from the rest. but other than those very small number of changes, identical twins have the same DNA sequence. It is about 99.9999% the same. In science nothing is 100%
William G. Enloe High School in NC (10th grade student)
754
Have scientist ever cloned an animal, aside from sheeps and cats?
     Mary Schueler, Ph.D.: Comparing the DNA sequence of essential chromosomal regions from multiple primates to define functional changes that have occurred during evolution. Yes, many. At www.guardian.co.uk, you can view photos of the many animals that have been cloned. They include horse, cow, pig, rabbit etc.
Arleta High School in CA (11th grade student)
755
When DNA is coiled up in chromosomes, how is it studied? Don't the overlapping strands make it hard for it to be seen under a microscope?
     David Bodine, M.D., Ph.D.: Investigating 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 we look at DNA in interphase nuclei when the chromosomes are not tightly wound up, but are relaxed and fill the nucleus. We have new microscopes that can give us 3D pictures. We can look for places where RNA is being made and we can map individual chromosome territories in nuclei. It is interesting that the location of the active genes is not random, these genes tend to be in the center of the nucleus. That 3D stuff was a big advance.
Westview High School in CA (9th grade student)
756
Is natural selection considered a mutation?
     Larry Brody, Ph.D.: Dr. Brody's lab investigates the connection between genetics and diseases related to birth defects and cancer. No. They are different but related. Natural selection occurs when one variant form has an advantage over another variant form. Variation is produced when mutations happen to DNA. This creates organisms that are slightly different. Without mutations, life would never have evolved.
Arleta High School in CA (10th grade student)
757
Can you explain how RNAi works in gene therapy?
     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 the Branch. Not in under 3 hours. but if I can be approximate let me try. RNAi is a way to turn off a gene that has exactly the opposite DNA sequence. We all have two copies of most genes. If one is bad and causing problems, but the other is good then if we have an RNAi molecule that is the exact opposite to the gene that is the problem, and if we can get it into the cells that are a problem, then the RNAi will turn off the bad gene but leave the good one working. It is actually not that easy.
Flint Northern Academy in MI (10th grade student)
758
How much do scientists make?
     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 USA. We write the 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. Scientists' salaries vary based on the setting in which they work, the part of the USA in which they work, the responsibilities of their jobs and how long they have been a scientist. I am in genetics because I think it is one of the most exciting fields of science. In choosing a career, I recommend that you find something you are passionate about.
Arleta High School in CA (11th grade student)
759
How big of an effect can one mutated gene have on a person?
     David Bodine, M.D., Ph.D.: Investigating 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. Pretty big or not at all, depending on the gene. Some mutations do not change the protein sequence (the genetic code sometimes has 3-5 different ways to code for an amino acid). Sometimes one deleterious mutation is not too bad if you are heterozygous, sometimes half the normal amount of protein is just fine. On the other hand, the single mutation in the globin gene that causes Sickle Cell Disease is very bad when you have two copies of it.
Westview High School in CA (9th grade student)
760
With is the importance of Biotechnology in 2008, do you think that we should study proteomics- the science of proteins- at high school?
     Belen Hurle, Ph.D.: Generating data for use in developing and refining computational tools for comparing genomic sequence from multiple vertebrate species. Biotechnology is very important, as it translates the discovery in basic science into real life applications that benefit all of us. I think that the more science people learn in high school, the better.
LaSalle Academy in RI (9th grade student)
761
Princeton High School in NJ (9th grade student)
762
Why did Michael Jackson's skin color change?
     Flavia Facio, M.S., C.G.C.: Interested in learning the contribution of genetics to common diseases, such as heart disease and cancer. Interesting question. We don't know. It is possible that he has a condition that led his skin to change color overtime. This condition could have a genetic component.
James Polk Middle School in IL (7th grade student)
763
Is it possible for a new base be found?
     Mary Schueler, Ph.D.: Comparing the DNA sequence of essential chromosomal regions from multiple primates to define functional changes that have occurred during evolution. Yes. In fact, there are many more "bases" then the ones found in DNA and RNA. They are used in the cell but do not end up being made into the long strings of DNA and RNA. There may be some organisms that use some of these different bases. But so far, almost every organism we have looked at uses the same bases that we use.
Arleta High School in CA (10th grade student)
764
If my mom is a dwarf, what are my chances of having dwarf children?
     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 the Branch. It all depends on what kind of dwarf. We don't like to use that word. Some people are short because they didn't grow and some because one of the genes that grow your bones grow a bone that is short. This is called Skeletal dysplasia. Inheritance of the genes are different and could be almost zero, 25%, fifty percent or sometime inbetween. Never more than 50%.
Holy Family Catholic High School in MN (9th grade student)
765
Is is still correct that the human genome is only 0.1% different between individuals?
     Alan Guttmacher, M.D.: Developing new research tools to translate the findings of the Human Genome Project (HGP) into new diagnostic tests and therapies. That is still correct. On average, any two individuals are the same at over 999 out of every 1,000 bases of their DNA sequence. Of course, that 0.1% where we differ on average is quite important, as it is these variations that help us make us who we each are - in terms of both our health and other characteristics.
Oxford College of Emory University in GA (Higher Education student)
768
How to get master in genetics ?
     Carla Easter, Ph.D.: Creates and implements genetic education programs. Works with the branch to create science education products for high school students. There are many universities that offer Masters degrees. A Masters degree requires classwork and sometimes, research.
Samar (Higher Education student)
769
Is there a genetic link to cervical cancer?
     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 the Branch. Yes. there is a gene inside the virus called papilloma that can activate a cervical cell to become cancerous. That is why a vaccine to prevent these infections is so beneficial.
Arleta High School in CA (10th grade student)
770
Why are mules unable to reproduce?
     Mary Schueler, Ph.D.: Comparing the DNA sequence of essential chromosomal regions from multiple primates to define functional changes that have occurred during evolution. It is not known mechanistically why they cannot reproduce. A mule is the offspring of a horse and a donkey. It is an interspecific hybrid. It is believed that speciation results when two organisms can no longer interbreed due to reproductive isolation. This can happen because the two genomes (in this case that of the horse and the donkey) cannot function together to produce proper eggs or sperm in the resulting organism. It is not know exactly why but could be that the chromosomes may be too different to accomplish meiosis or some important protein factor is absent or different in one of the species.
Arleta High School in CA (11th grade student)
771
My nephew has been suffering with seizures for several years. The hospital where he goes has been unable to give a diagnosis. Where can he get the help he needs?
     Julie Sapp, Sc.M.: Counseling families with genetic conditions who participate in NHGRI research protocols at the NIH. Helping families understand the genetic basis of their condition and its inheritance and how best to cope with the medical and psychological effects of having a genetic condition. I'm sorry to hear about your nephew and it must be frustrating to not have an answer to why he is suffering from this problem. As I'm sure you know, seizures are a complicated problem and, like any complex medical condition, it can take doctors a long time to understand this problem in any particular patient. You could consider asking your nephew's doctors for a referral to a seizure clinic at a larger hospital or a hospital that is associated with university medical center.
Lori Ferguson in MD ()
772
If you want to be a veterinarian do you still have to know as much about DNA as you have to know about human 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 USA. We write the 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. Genetics is impacting all fields of medicine, including veterinary medicine in many wonderful ways. As a vet, you may be conducting genetic tests and using that information to prescribe treatments for sick pets and animals of all sizes. Therefore, you will have to know as about animal DNA as physicians know about human DNA.
Shikellamy High School in PA (9th grade student)
773
Is there any living organism without RNA or DNA?
     Larry Brody, Ph.D.: Dr. Brody's lab investigates the connection between genetics and diseases related to birth defects and cancer. I do not know of any. There is one infectious disease that is caused by a virus that is made up of only protein. Many people would not call this virus a "living organism"
Holy Family Catholic High School in MN (9th grade student)
774
If you have an extra chromosome can you be superstrong?
     Flavia Facio, M.S., C.G.C.: Interested in learning the contribution of genetics to common diseases, such as heart disease and cancer. Good question. I'm afraid that is not the case. Generally speaking having too much (extra chromosome or part of a chromosome) or too little (missing a chromosome or part of a chromosome) is not a good thing. So having just the right amount of genetic material is important for our body to function properly.
Holy Family Catholic High School in MN (9th grade student)
775
Tell me how aging process can be controlled genetically.
     Alan Guttmacher, M.D.: Developing new research tools to translate the findings of the Human Genome Project (HGP) into new diagnostic tests and therapies. It likely cannot ever be fully "controlled" genetically. However, there obviously are many genetic factors that play a role in aging. as we learn more about them, we will be better able to develop strategies to combat the effects of aging. For instance, if we learn that the interplay between a specific genetic factor and specific environmental factors influences aging, we may be able to modify those specific environmental exposures in a way to slow the aging process for many individuals.
Sharda, India (Higher Education student)
776
How fragile is DNA? How much pressure does it take to break it? If it were a small amount, all of our DNA would be breaking and we couldn't live, could we?
     Belen Hurle, Ph.D.: Generating data for use in developing and refining computational tools for comparing genomic sequence from multiple vertebrate species. Spontaneous breaks in the DNA are relatively common in all cells (free radical attacks seem to be responsible) and most are quickly repaired by normal cell processes -- generally within minutes or hours. It is possible for the cell to make mistakes when repairing single-strand breaks, but the likelihood of serious mistakes (mutations) increases substantially with double-strand breaks.
Westview High School in CA (9th grade student)
777
Can you alter your DNA to be "perfect?"
     Julie Segre, Ph.D.: Combining classical genetics techniques and modern genomic tools, her laboratory uses mouse models to investigate the function of novel genes important for in utero human epidermal development, normal wound healing, and skin regeneration. "Perfect" DNA might mean DNA that has replicated without error and there are mechanisms in place within the cell to fix any errors that occur during the normal replication process. No one really has "perfect" DNA. We don't even know what it would mean to have perfect DNA since a lot of our DNA is in place to help us respond to stresses. We all have elements within our DNA that make us more or less susceptible to disease. For some individuals with genetic disorders, gene therapy can introduce new copies of the gene and hopefully correct the disorder. But this is only used in rare situations.
Arleta High School in CA (11th grade student)
778
If you know you have a negative genetic trait that is passed on in the family, can that gene be identified and destroyed?
     Vence Bonham, J.D.: The ethical, legal, social and policy implications of genomic discoveries, particularly health professionals' and lay persons' understanding of race, ethnicity and genetics. This is an exciting time in science we are learning more of the variations in the human genome. This information will assist development of personalized medicine. We can identify deleterious mutations, but what to do is a personal choice. In many cases, an egg or zygote fertilized outside the body can be evaluated for the presence of the deleterious gene. Then only the "healthy" embryos can be put into the mother.
Jackson High School in MO (11th grade student)
779
Do you believe in evolution?
     M.K. Holohan, J.D.: Works with the Policy Branch at NHGRI on issues related to Genetics and Policy. Yes. The overwhelming majority of scientists believe that evolution, the process of natural selection, explains how multiple species evolved from a common ancestor over very long periods of time. While there are those who believe that their religious beliefs are incompatible with evolution, this position is quite uncommon within the scientific community.
Westview High School in CA (9th grade student)
780
Which countries have DNA banks?
     Alan Guttmacher, M.D.: Developing new research tools to translate the findings of the Human Genome Project (HGP) into new diagnostic tests and therapies. Hello, St. Ignatius. As in past years, St. Ignatius students are active and interesting participants in the Chat Room. A number of countries have collections of DNA that are used for various kinds of research - or are seriously considering starting them. among these are the United Kingdom, Japan, Estonia, and Iceland. While the United States does not have a single national DNA bank (yet), we have a number of DNA banks (well over 100) that are used in scientific research.
St. Ignatius College Prep in IL (12th grade student)
781
How many DNA mutations need to occur in order to have a major disease?
     Julie Sapp, Sc.M.: Counseling families with genetic conditions who participate in NHGRI research protocols at the NIH. Helping families understand the genetic basis of their condition and its inheritance and how best to cope with the medical and psychological effects of having a genetic condition. In some cases of single gene disorders, one tiny change in a person's DNA can result in faulty protein that does not function properly in the body. These altered or non-functional proteins can result in problems in multiple organ systems in the body. However, most cases of disease are caused by a combination of our genes and our environment, and we are just beginning to understand how each of these factors influence both health and disease.
Souderton Area High School in PA (10th grade student)
782
I just a question answered by Belen Hurle, Ph.D. about the most number of chromosomes an organism has. It was answered that a certain type of ant has 1, but the female has 2 - I thought a different number of chromosomes made them different species? Can you explain?
     Belen Hurle, Ph.D.: Generating data for use in developing and refining computational tools for comparing genomic sequence from multiple vertebrate species. Good follow up question. Not when we talk about sex chromosomes. In this variant of the XY system, females have two copies of the sex chromosome (XX) but males have only one (X0). The 0 denotes the absence of a second sex chromosome. This system is observed in a number of insects.
Sapulpa Middle School in OK (7th grade teacher)

Information - Moderator Here are the winners from the ASHG DNA Day Essay Contest.

High School (9th- 12th graders)

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

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

2nd Briana Skalski, Archmere Academy, Claymont, DE

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

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

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

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

3rd Christian Fagel, Archmere Academy, Claymont, DE

Middle School (7th and 8th graders)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

3rd Elizabeth Cole, Home School, Virginia



785
What causes bad vision?
     Don Hadley, M.S., C.G.C.: Researching the components of a genetic counseling session, including how people are informed of genetic disorders and how they make decisions regarding genetic testing. There are a number of factors that can cause a person to have poor vision. A person's genetic make-up can be one of the factors that influence our ability to see. Many genes are being identified that influence our visual abilities on different levels, development, clarity, ability to see far and near, etc. However, there are other "non-genetic" factors that can be involved in our ability to see such as environmental factors that effect the development of the eye while the baby is growing in the mother's womb or exposures to harsh chemicals that cause destruction to functioning of the eye. Great question. I encourage you to look into this further
Maple Shade High School in NJ (10th grade student)
786
How does meiosis reduce the number of chromrosomes sets from a diploid cell to hapliod cell?
     Mary Schueler, Ph.D.: Comparing the DNA sequence of essential chromosomal regions from multiple primates to define functional changes that have occurred during evolution. The first meiotic division is the reductive division and the second meiotic division is like mitosis and produces exact daughter cells. Before the first meiotic division, DNA replication produces two homologs that align with each other, crossover and separate from each other at anaphase. Each of these homologs contains two chromatids. There is no DNA replication prior to meiosis II so the two chromatids segregate from each other at anaphase of meiosis II producing haploid cells.
Arleta High School in CA (10th grade student)
787
In the future do you think a fast sample-to-answer system will be used to quickly and cheaply identify mutations, and if so, how long until that technology is available?
     Julie Segre, Ph.D.: Combining classical genetics techniques and modern genomic tools, her laboratory uses mouse models to investigate the function of novel genes important for in utero human epidermal development, normal wound healing, and skin regeneration. For a disease caused by known mutations in one gene tests could be developed fairly rapidly to identify if a DNA sample has this DNA mutation. The difficulty in making this type of diagnosis is that more often diseases are caused by minor variations in many genes that together predispose an individual to a disorder when faced by a certain environment.
Arleta High School in CA (10th grade student)
788
Can animals get down syndrome?
     Larry Brody, Ph.D.: Dr. Brody's lab investigates the connection between genetics and diseases related to birth defects and cancer. Yes. There have been several chimpanzees found with Down Syndrome. As the syndrome is caused by an extra copy of a specific chromosome (chromosome 21 in humans) only animals closely related to humans have a similar syndrome. Extra copies of other chromosomes cause even more serious syndrome and most are not compatible with life. To study Down syndrome, scientists have created mice that have extra copies of the same genes found on human chromosome 21. These mice have some of the features of Down Syndrome.
Holy Family Catholic High School in MN (9th grade student)
791
What do you do all day in the room?
     Alan Guttmacher, M.D.: Developing new research tools to translate the findings of the Human Genome Project (HGP) into new diagnostic tests and therapies. Actually, most of us are not here all day. For instance, I was here answering questions for an hour or two this morning and then went to my regular work before returning. While in the room, we answer questions on line (and have an occasional bagel or other healthy snack). While I was back inn my office, I did things like catch up on email, participated in a conference call about how a large governmental healthcare system might make family history information more available to patients, talked with some folks about yesterday's passage of the Genetics Information Nondiscrimination Act by the U.S. Senate, some potential ares for new genome research, etc.
Alpharetta High School in GA (9th grade student)
792
What does protein have to do with the DNA?
     Carla Easter, Ph.D.: Creates and implements genetic education programs. Works with the branch to create science education products for high school students. The DNA that composes your genes encodes the proteins. In other words, your genes are like the blueprints for proteins.
Palms Middle School in CA (7th grade student)
796
What is the most common genetic disease in the US today?
     Flavia Facio, M.S., C.G.C.: Interested in learning the contribution of genetics to common diseases, such as heart disease and cancer. This is an interesting and tricky question! Many conditions have a genetic component, including common diseases like heart disease and cancer. There are conditions which have a major genetic component and are caused by a mutation or variation in just one gene. These are called single-gene disorders. There are about 6,000 known single-gene disorders. Some of the most common ones are hemochromatosis and cystic fibrosis.
Holy Family Catholic High School in MN (9th grade student)
797
What is a telomere.
     Mary Schueler, Ph.D.: Comparing the DNA sequence of essential chromosomal regions from multiple primates to define functional changes that have occurred during evolution. A telomere is a repetitive structure that serves as a cap at the each end of a chromosome. It is comprised of tandem repeats of TTAGGG and the free, single-stranded end forms a loop structure that serves to seal off the chromosome end and prevent unzipping of the DNA helix
Liberty Jr.Sr. High School in PA (12th grade student)
798
How do scientists come up with all these experiments, like studying DNA?
     Julie Segre, Ph.D.: Combining classical genetics techniques and modern genomic tools, her laboratory uses mouse models to investigate the function of novel genes important for in utero human epidermal development, normal wound healing, and skin regeneration. Most scientists have training in basic principles through their study in college and graduate school. But that only teaches us what is known. From there we have to use our imagination and often discussion between two researchers working in different fields to come up with new experiments. We train our minds to notice when we get unexpected results from experiments - this is where some of the most important information is gained.
Palms Middle School in CA (7th grade student)
799
How long is DNA?
     Carla Easter, Ph.D.: Creates and implements genetic education programs. Works with the branch to create science education products for high school students. If you were to unpack the DNA in a human cell and stretch it out, it would be about 6 feet in length.
Palms Middle School in CA (7th grade student)
800
What are the chances that one day chromosomal abnormalities will be fixed in the developing baby?
     Don Hadley, M.S., C.G.C.: Researching the components of a genetic counseling session, including how people are informed of genetic disorders and how they make decisions regarding genetic testing. Since errors in chromosome numbers typically occur in every cell of the body, trying to correct (take away extra or putting another in) poses a nearly impossible task from what we can do now. Our knowledge is advancing rapidly so one day in the distant future such genetic manipulation may be possible, but it is probably still a long way off.
Arleta High School in CA (10th grade student)
801
Is red hair a recessive trait?
     Larry Brody, Ph.D.: Dr. Brody's lab investigates the connection between genetics and diseases related to birth defects and cancer. Hair and eye color are related. Both are influenced by more than one gene. This means that they don't behave as strict recessive and dominant traits. In general, blue eyes and red hair are recessive to brown eyes and dark hair.
Shikellamy High School in PA (9th grade student)
803
Why do cloned animals live shorter lives than the original animal
     Belen Hurle, Ph.D.: Generating data for use in developing and refining computational tools for comparing genomic sequence from multiple vertebrate species. It is true that problems tend to arise later, during the clone's development to adulthood. it is not totally clear why. Cloned animals that do survive tend to be much bigger at birth than their natural counterparts. Scientists call this "Large Offspring Syndrome" (LOS). Clones with LOS have abnormally large organs. This can lead to breathing, blood flow and other problems. Also, the DNA sequences at both ends of a chromosome, called telomeres, shrink in length every time the DNA is copied. Dolly the sheep's chromosomes had shorter telomere lengths than normal. This means that Dolly's cells were aging faster than the cells from a normal sheep.
Powell High School in TN (12th grade student)
804
What is the actual life span of a fruit fly?
     Belen Hurle, Ph.D.: Generating data for use in developing and refining computational tools for comparing genomic sequence from multiple vertebrate species. The life span of a fruit fly may be several weeks.
Palms Middle School in CA (7th grade student)
805
How was DNA discovered and who discovered it?
     Alan Guttmacher, M.D.: Developing new research tools to translate the findings of the Human Genome Project (HGP) into new diagnostic tests and therapies. Like most things in science, in a way there was no single discovery of DNA, but a path of discovery that included many events and in which many people participated. However, most people refer to the publication by James Watson and Francis Crick of the description of the DNA double helix in Science magazine - 55 years ago today, as the single most important point in the path of discovery of DNA.
Shikellamy High School in PA (9th grade student)
806
Whats the worst thing a mutated gene can do?
     Julie Segre, Ph.D.: Combining classical genetics techniques and modern genomic tools, her laboratory uses mouse models to investigate the function of novel genes important for in utero human epidermal development, normal wound healing, and skin regeneration. Mutations in a gene could prevent the cell from duplicating which would limit the growth of the animal. Conversely, mutations in a game could also cause uncontrolled growth which could lead to cancer.
Holy Family Catholic High School in MN (9th grade student)
807
Why do some people believe in creationism, when all evidence points to evolution?
     M.K. Holohan, J.D.: Works with the Policy Branch at NHGRI on issues related to Genetics and Policy. Some people find that evolution, the theory of natural selection, is incompatible with their religious beliefs. However, many people - including those within the scientific community - do not find a conflict between evolution and their personal religious beliefs.
Adam Theist High School in NY (Higher Education teacher)
808
Does DNA determine my overall body weight?
     Flavia Facio, M.S., C.G.C.: Interested in learning the contribution of genetics to common diseases, such as heart disease and cancer. In most cases "no". Overall body weight is determined by a number of factors. While genetics and DNA variations may play a role in predisposing people to be overweight or standard weight, factors like diet and exercise are very important! There are some very rare genetic conditions that include "being overweight" as one of the features. Again, these are rare conditions and people affected by them tend to have many other features.
Colin Halbmier's Institution for the Mal Nutritioned in MN (9th grade student)
810
Will there be a cure for cancer anytime in the NEAR future?
     Julie Sapp, Sc.M.: Counseling families with genetic conditions who participate in NHGRI research protocols at the NIH. Helping families understand the genetic basis of their condition and its inheritance and how best to cope with the medical and psychological effects of having a genetic condition. Even though we have made huge strides in treating cancer in the last few decades, anyone who knows someone affected by cancer wishes for rapid advancements that can help their friend or family member now. In fact, new advances in the detection and treatment of cancer means that many cancers are considered cured if they do not recur 5 years after the initial treatment. Examples of this include early-stage breast, colon, and prostate cancers. Basic scientists and clinicians all over the world are working to solve this and other health problems every day and these advances are evidence of the progress that they are making.
Souderton Area High School in PA (10th grade student)
811
Have you ever said "I don't know" to a genetic question?
     Alan Guttmacher, M.D.: Developing new research tools to translate the findings of the Human Genome Project (HGP) into new diagnostic tests and therapies. YES!!!!! In both research and in medicine, it is incredibly important to know when you don't know something, and to be honest about that fact with both yourself and others. In fact, much of the fun of research is to answer questions that have never had an answer before.
Shikellamy High School in PA (10th grade student)
812
What kind of degree do you have?
     Vence Bonham, J.D.: The ethical, legal, social and policy implications of genomic discoveries, particularly health professionals' and lay persons' understanding of race, ethnicity and genetics. I have a juris doctorate degree. I am the only researcher in the intramural research program at NHGRI that has a JD degree. I study the social and policy implications of genomics. I work with researchers that are geneticists, primary care physicians, social and behavioral scientists. Individuals with Ph.D., M.D., RN degrees are my research collaborators.
Holy Family Catholic High School in MN (9th grade student)
813
Does higher intelligence run in families?
     Julie Segre, Ph.D.: Combining classical genetics techniques and modern genomic tools, her laboratory uses mouse models to investigate the function of novel genes important for in utero human epidermal development, normal wound healing, and skin regeneration. Not in mine! No, seriously. My father is also a scientist who opened up the world of exploration to me. A lot of intelligence is really how much you explore the world around you, for which genetics is only a small component.
McAvoy Holy Family Catholic HS in MN (Higher Education teacher)
814
How many DNA molecules does the average human have?
     Julie Segre, Ph.D.: Combining classical genetics techniques and modern genomic tools, her laboratory uses mouse models to investigate the function of novel genes important for in utero human epidermal development, normal wound healing, and skin regeneration. All human cells have 2 copies each of 23 chromosomes. Except females have 2 X chromosomes and males have 1 X and 1 Y chromosome.
Topeka High School in KS (10th grade student)
815
Do viruses have DNA?
     Julie Segre, Ph.D.: Combining classical genetics techniques and modern genomic tools, her laboratory uses mouse models to investigate the function of novel genes important for in utero human epidermal development, normal wound healing, and skin regeneration. Viruses are also nucleic acid based. Some viruses are DNA based like herpes virus. Other viruses are RNA based like HIV. If the virus is RNA based then it needs to convert the RNA to DNA to insert into human DNA.
Holy Family Catholic High School in MN (9th grade student)
816
What research is being done on "introns" ?
     Mary Schueler, Ph.D.: Comparing the DNA sequence of essential chromosomal regions from multiple primates to define functional changes that have occurred during evolution. Introns are excised from the messenger RNA of a gene before the resulting transcript is translated into protein. Generally, the sequence of exons is conserved over long periods of evolutionary time but introns vary. This is thought to be because exons code for protein and so are functionally constrained ie if you change them, you do away with the function of the protein. Because there has been no functional constraint known for introns, it has long been thought that they should be free to change. Recently, some intronic sequences have been shown to be conserved over very long periods of evolutionary time. It is not yet known why this is but investigations are underway. These conserved parts of introns could be protein binding sites that control expression of the gene or another gene or something of that nature.
Abbeville High School in SC (12th grade student)
817
Can animals other than humans get hemophilia?
     Belen Hurle, Ph.D.: Generating data for use in developing and refining computational tools for comparing genomic sequence from multiple vertebrate species. Yes they can. Researchers use dog and mouse animal models to study the disease.
Alpharetta High School in GA (9th grade student)
818
My friend has Fraunbergism a extremely rare genetic disorder that causes rapid aging and extreme loss of memory. Currently there has no extensive research into this area with the ROI is very minimal. Do you think that the rare genetic diseases will be addressed in the overall genome project?
     Alan Guttmacher, M.D.: Developing new research tools to translate the findings of the Human Genome Project (HGP) into new diagnostic tests and therapies. I don't completely understand your question, in that I have never heard of "Fraunbergism." However, I do know that genomics is contributing a lot to our understanding of thousands of rare diseases. Eventually, that increased understanding will translate into new treatment and even prevention strategies.
North Brunswick Township High School in NJ (9th grade student)
819
I think my friend has down syndrome? Does that have something to do with her DNA? How can I help?
     Flavia Facio, M.S., C.G.C.: Interested in learning the contribution of genetics to common diseases, such as heart disease and cancer. Thanks for your question. It is nice of you to be thinking of your friend. Down Syndrome is caused by too much DNA material from chromosome number 21. Usually, this can be diagnosed by a simple blood test. To learn more about Down Syndrome and to find ways on how you can help your friend, you can look at the National Down Syndrome Society website -- www.ndss.org Best of luck.
Corydon Central Junior High School in IN (7th grade student)
821
What happens to a chromosome when an inversion occurs?
     Julie Segre, Ph.D.: Combining classical genetics techniques and modern genomic tools, her laboratory uses mouse models to investigate the function of novel genes important for in utero human epidermal development, normal wound healing, and skin regeneration. Most inversions in a chromosome would result in a cell that couldn't replicate and survive. Rarely, but these are the ones we see in the clinic, inversions can bring together components of two genes that result in uncontrolled growth and cancer.
Holy Family Catholic High School in MN (9th grade student)
822
If you don't have enough chromosomes will you die?
     Don Hadley, M.S., C.G.C.: Researching the components of a genetic counseling session, including how people are informed of genetic disorders and how they make decisions regarding genetic testing. In most cases, a fetus will not survive the pregnancy if there is a missing chromosome. However, there is one example of a chromosomal condition in which a person has less than usual number of chromosomes. This condition is called Turner syndrome. People with Turner syndrome are women who are missing an "X' chromosome usually in each cell of their body. While we know of many bright and productive women who have Turner syndrome, most pregnancies in which the baby has Turner syndrome do not survive which confirms how important it is to have the correct number of chromosomes.
Holy Family Catholic High School in MN (9th grade student)
823
Who discovered DNA?
     Carla Easter, Ph.D.: Creates and implements genetic education programs. Works with the branch to create science education products for high school students. Throughout history, there have been many people who have played a role in understanding the structure and function of DNA. But in term of the actually seeing it, DNA was first isolated in 1869 by Friedrich Miescher.
Holy Family Catholic High School in MN (9th grade student)
824
Do goats and humans share any genetic characteristics?
     Julie Segre, Ph.D.: Combining classical genetics techniques and modern genomic tools, her laboratory uses mouse models to investigate the function of novel genes important for in utero human epidermal development, normal wound healing, and skin regeneration. Most mammals share about 5% of their DNA that is conserved. Most of this DNA encodes proteins or the regulatory elements that determine gene expression. These regions are some of the most studied DNA segments.
Holy Family Catholic High School in MN (9th grade student)
825
The question that everyone asks: If evolution is true then why arn't primates evolving now?
     Julie Segre, Ph.D.: Combining classical genetics techniques and modern genomic tools, her laboratory uses mouse models to investigate the function of novel genes important for in utero human epidermal development, normal wound healing, and skin regeneration. Primates probably are evolving, or at least keeping diversity in their genomes to respond to new environmental challenges. Evolution occurs over very long periods of time.
Bednarcik Junior High School in IL (8th grade student)
826
Is your job intense?
     Don Hadley, M.S., C.G.C.: Researching the components of a genetic counseling session, including how people are informed of genetic disorders and how they make decisions regarding genetic testing. My job is fascinating, challenging and rewarding. Some times, it is intense, but not enough to keep me from enjoying it.
Holy Family Catholic High School in MN (9th grade student)
827
How quickly are genomes sequenced using state-of-the-art techniques?
     Julie Segre, Ph.D.: Combining classical genetics techniques and modern genomic tools, her laboratory uses mouse models to investigate the function of novel genes important for in utero human epidermal development, normal wound healing, and skin regeneration. We could sequence the DNA of a human in about 2 months. A lot of what makes it easier is that we can organize the sequence of a new genome off existing genomes.
New York University in NY (Higher Education student)
828
Are plant's DNA different from mammal's DNA?
     Belen Hurle, Ph.D.: Generating data for use in developing and refining computational tools for comparing genomic sequence from multiple vertebrate species. Fundamentally not at the molecular level. The DNA has the same A,C,T,G bases and the same double helix structure. Now, if you talk about the structure of the genome , there are some big differences. Plant genomes are generally bigger. Also plants have undergone more rounds of duplications. Where a human is diploid, meaning that it has 2 copies of each gene, a tobacco plant may have 8 or more copies of the same gene. Plant genomes are also loaded with junk DNA.
Holy Family Catholic High School in MN (9th grade student)
829
will learning this stuff actually help us in the future?
     Alan Guttmacher, M.D.: Developing new research tools to translate the findings of the Human Genome Project (HGP) into new diagnostic tests and therapies. I guess it depends what stuff you are learning - although almost anything I have learned has eventually proved useful sometime. If you mean this stuff about genetics, the answer is definitely "yes." In your lifetime, much of health care will rely on patients being knowledgeable enough about genetics to work with their doctors to devise personalized prevention strategies to avoid many of the common diseases that us old folks have fallen victim to...
Michael pointer in PA (9th grade student)
830
How different is a dog's DNA than a human's, just by looking at it?
     Carla Easter, Ph.D.: Creates and implements genetic education programs. Works with the branch to create science education products for high school students. If you were to isolate DNA from a dog and from a human, you would not be able to tell the difference between the two by just looking at them. You would have to sequence the DNA and do molecular analysis in order to asses the differences.
Bednarcik Junior High School in IL (8th grade student)
831
Can humans be genetically engineered for certain traits?
     Mary Schueler, Ph.D.: Comparing the DNA sequence of essential chromosomal regions from multiple primates to define functional changes that have occurred during evolution. Not yet. These types of experiments are being done in model organisms but not in humans. This type of research is still considered unethical to perform on human beings. Even in model organisms, experiments designed to produce and animal with a specific trait are done to study disease progression or to test interventions. Gene therapy trials, where patients agree to participate in experimental trials that attempt to replace or repair genes in their genomes that are causing their disease, are considered genetic engineering but fall into a class of disease treatment and not engineering for certain "favorable" traits.
John C. Fremont High School in CA (10th grade student)
832
What sequencing technologies currently available or under development have the greatest potential to deliver a $1000 genome?
     Julie Segre, Ph.D.: Combining classical genetics techniques and modern genomic tools, her laboratory uses mouse models to investigate the function of novel genes important for in utero human epidermal development, normal wound healing, and skin regeneration. Sequencing technologies are currently undergoing a revolution. For the last 20 years we all used Sanger based sequencing in acrylimide gels. Now we are using massively parallel sequencing technology that produces sequence at 1/10 or 1/100 of the previous price.
Christi Bird in TX ()
833
What is the most uncommon genetic disease that has ever been seen?
     Alan Guttmacher, M.D.: Developing new research tools to translate the findings of the Human Genome Project (HGP) into new diagnostic tests and therapies. There is no clear, single answer to that question. There are thousands of genetic conditions and many of them are so rare that they appear to affect only something like one person in a million. Actually, when diseases are that rare, it is difficult to do the studies that are needed to establish their exact frequencies...
Holy Family Catholic High School in MN (9th grade student)
834
My former classmate's dad was recently diagnosed with Lou Gehrig's disease. What is it? Is it genetic?
     Flavia Facio, M.S., C.G.C.: Interested in learning the contribution of genetics to common diseases, such as heart disease and cancer. Lou Gehrig's disease is a progressive disease that affects the neurological system. There are several symptoms associated with the condition, including for example muscle weakness. Lou Gehrig's disease can happen as part of a familial condition or can be sporadic, meaning that it only happens to one member of the family. When the condition is familial, there is a genetic component and in some cases genetic testing can be helpful. It would be important for your friend's family to speak with their doctor about their family history and to learn more about the condition. Thanks for your question.
Holy Family Catholic High School in MN (9th grade student)
835
what is your favorite protein?
     Mary Schueler, Ph.D.: Comparing the DNA sequence of essential chromosomal regions from multiple primates to define functional changes that have occurred during evolution. My favorite protein is centromere protein A. It is a histone protein that is specific for centromeres. Centromeres are very important parts of chromosomes. When chromosomes segregate from each other at anaphase, it is the centromere that is bound to the spindle apparatus through a very complex group of proteins known as the kinetochore. CENP-A is the foundation of the kinetochore, creating nucleosomes at the centromere that are different from those in the rest of the chromosome.
Holy Family Catholic High School in MN (9th grade student)
836
What is the visible difference, if any, between a dog's DNA and a human's DNA?
     Julie Segre, Ph.D.: Combining classical genetics techniques and modern genomic tools, her laboratory uses mouse models to investigate the function of novel genes important for in utero human epidermal development, normal wound healing, and skin regeneration. The visible difference between DNA of species is the number of chromosomes that can vary from approximately 20 to 40.
Bednarcik Junior High School in IL (8th grade student)
837
What are your overall impressions of peronal genomics companies like 23andMe, Navigenics and deCODEme? What are the major ethical and insurance-related issues involved?
     Alan Guttmacher, M.D.: Developing new research tools to translate the findings of the Human Genome Project (HGP) into new diagnostic tests and therapies. Christi - Unfortunately, we are supposed to keep our answers brief, since we have literally thousands of questions to get to, and that question deserves a long answer. In brief: I think someday such services amy prove very useful, but we aren't there yet. Even if offered such testing free, I would take up the offer today, as we still don't understand what all this genomic information really means. The major ethical and insurance related issues are numerous, including what one would do with this sort of information, who will have access to it, who will pay for it once it really is useful in health care (which will be the case eventually - probably by the time you are in your thirties) and whether to share it with relatives.
Christi Bird in TX ()
838
What causes DNA mistakes?
     Julie Segre, Ph.D.: Combining classical genetics techniques and modern genomic tools, her laboratory uses mouse models to investigate the function of novel genes important for in utero human epidermal development, normal wound healing, and skin regeneration. Mistakes happen when you are replicating 3,000,000,000 base pairs every cell cycle. Most of the mistakes are fixed when the cell realizes that the two strands of complementary DNA don't agree. Then the DNA looks to see which strand is new and fixes this one.
Bednarcik Junior High School in IL (8th grade student)
840
Why is genetic variation needed to evolve?
     M.K. Holohan, J.D.: Works with the Policy Branch at NHGRI on issues related to Genetics and Policy. As an environment changes, an organism needs to adapt via changes in his its genetics or it will cease to thrive. For example, a species living in an aquatic environment would need to evolve genetically to survive a prolonged drought and ultimately drier conditions.
Arleta High School in CA (10th grade student)
841
How complex is a strand of DNA?
     Julie Segre, Ph.D.: Combining classical genetics techniques and modern genomic tools, her laboratory uses mouse models to investigate the function of novel genes important for in utero human epidermal development, normal wound healing, and skin regeneration. DNA is very complex. It has a primary structure of which of the 4 base pairs (A,C,G,T) and then it forms the secondary structure of DNA and then it wraps around proteins to form a tertiary structure.
Holy Family Catholic High School in MN (9th grade student)
842
Is a person's personality inherited?
     Belen Hurle, Ph.D.: Generating data for use in developing and refining computational tools for comparing genomic sequence from multiple vertebrate species. To a certain degree, yes. Depression, compulsive disorder, bipolar disorder, eating disorders and others run in families. But genetics alone will never account for your personality, the environmental influences are also very important.
Holy Family Catholic High School in MN (Higher Education teacher)
843
what is the worst possible disease to get if your genomes are messed up
     Alan Guttmacher, M.D.: Developing new research tools to translate the findings of the Human Genome Project (HGP) into new diagnostic tests and therapies. There is no single answer to this question. It depends upon who you ask and what things they care about. If someone cares most about having a long life, then any of a number of diseases that often provide fateful very early in life would be the answer. If it was avoiding physical pain that was most important, that would dictate another list of diseases. If it was having a condition that leads to loss of intelligence and control over one's body, yet another group of conditions would come to mind. If it was diseases that lead to physical disfigurement that were most feared, that would be another group. So, it all depenfds upon who you ask, and what they care most about...
Joe Nva Academy in MN (9th grade student)
844
I have a rare eye problem. The lens in my eyes are dislocated. My grandfather and several of his brothers had it also. I am the only grandchild that has it. My son also has it but not my daughter. What are his chances of passing this on and is it possible to prevent it from being passed on?
     Don Hadley, M.S., C.G.C.: Researching the components of a genetic counseling session, including how people are informed of genetic disorders and how they make decisions regarding genetic testing. These are exactly the kind of questions that Clinical Genetics teams addresses. A genetics team would carefully document your family medical history, meet with you in person to perform a genetics physical examination and review the previous medical records involving your eyes. Once that data is collected and assessed, your questions could be more accurately answered. You can find a genetics team by going to the web site of the American College of Medical Genetics (www.ACMG.net)
Jackson High School in MO (teacher)
845
How did the misnomer "Junk DNA" get into our scientific lexicon?
     Mary Schueler, Ph.D.: Comparing the DNA sequence of essential chromosomal regions from multiple primates to define functional changes that have occurred during evolution. Early in our studies of DNA, it was thought that repetitive DNA and DNA that did not code for protein was "junk DNA". It was thought to be filler or DNA that had not been selected for function by the evolutionary process. As our understanding of the genome advances with the sequencing of the human genome and now with the ability to compare our genome with those of other organisms, we are finding that many directional processes are ongoing in the genome that involve DNA that does not code for protein. Some of it codes for small RNAs that have function without being translated into protein and some of it serves structural functions or, as in the case of the centromere, the site of functional protein complex assembly.
St. Ignatius College Prep in IL (12th grade student)
846
Is homosexuality linked to genetics?
     M.K. Holohan, J.D.: Works with the Policy Branch at NHGRI on issues related to Genetics and Policy. There has been some research into this area but none that has conclusively established genetic variants related to homosexuality. Scientists continue to study possible genetic and environmental factors that may affect human sexuality.
Alpharetta High School in GA (11th grade student)
847
What do you have to say about the subjectivity of science?
     Julie Segre, Ph.D.: Combining classical genetics techniques and modern genomic tools, her laboratory uses mouse models to investigate the function of novel genes important for in utero human epidermal development, normal wound healing, and skin regeneration. The greatest subjectivity of science is what the individual finds interesting to explore. Some scientific experiments are also planned and implemented by large groups of people, so people can play different parts of the project.
Alpharetta High School in GA (9th grade student)
848
Do twins have the exact same dna?
     Flavia Facio, M.S., C.G.C.: Interested in learning the contribution of genetics to common diseases, such as heart disease and cancer. Twins that are not identical do not have the exact DNA. They are very much like a full brother or sister, who share about 50% of their DNA. Twins that are identical share most, but not all, of their DNA.
Corydon Central Junior High School in IN (7th grade student)
849
When was DNA discovered?
     Carla Easter, Ph.D.: Creates and implements genetic education programs. Works with the branch to create science education products for high school students. Throughout history, there have been many people who have played a role in understanding the structure and function of DNA. But in term of the actually seeing it, DNA was first isolated in 1869 by Friedrich Miescher.
Holy Family Catholic High School in MN (9th grade student)
850
How long does it take for a DNA strand to replicate?
     Julie Segre, Ph.D.: Combining classical genetics techniques and modern genomic tools, her laboratory uses mouse models to investigate the function of novel genes important for in utero human epidermal development, normal wound healing, and skin regeneration. Bacteria, such as Eschescheri coli replicate their genomes in 20 minutes. E. coli has one chromosome that is approximately 3,000,000 base pairs.
Holy Family Catholic High School in MN (9th grade student)
851
Are there different nitrogen bases for different species?
     Carla Easter, Ph.D.: Creates and implements genetic education programs. Works with the branch to create science education products for high school students. To our knowledge, the nitrogen bases that make up the DNA are the same for every species.
Holy Family Catholic High School in MN (9th grade student)
852
Are there diseases that each ethnic group is genetically pre-disposed to?
     Vence Bonham, J.D.: The ethical, legal, social and policy implications of genomic discoveries, particularly health professionals' and lay persons' understanding of race, ethnicity and genetics. There are certain diseases that are more prevalent in certain ethnic groups (e.g. sickle cell disease, cystic fibrosis). No disease is exclusive to a certain ethnic group. Identifying as a member of an ethnic group doesn't predispose you to the disease.
University of Hawaii - Hilo in HI (Higher Education student)
853
Holy Family Catholic High School in MN (9th grade student)
854
How are computers used in the human genome project? what computer company helped?
     Belen Hurle, Ph.D.: Generating data for use in developing and refining computational tools for comparing genomic sequence from multiple vertebrate species. Computers were and are critical to the human genome project. There are robots that sequence the DNA, there are programs that assemble the DNA sequence and there are servers that store the data digitally. Raw DNA data stored in the databases is searched electronically, again with the help of computers. Bioinformatics is a hot research area.
Kannapolis Middle School in NC (8th grade student)
855
If you were to unwind all the DNA in your body, how long would it be?
     Julie Segre, Ph.D.: Combining classical genetics techniques and modern genomic tools, her laboratory uses mouse models to investigate the function of novel genes important for in utero human epidermal development, normal wound healing, and skin regeneration. Human DNA is 3 billion basepairs long would be about 1.02 meters (over three feet) long, which, in humans, is divided into 23 separate pieces (chromosomes) averaging 4.5 cm each
Kittanning Senior High School in PA (9th grade student)
856
How is genomic data used to make better medicines?
     Flavia Facio, M.S., C.G.C.: Interested in learning the contribution of genetics to common diseases, such as heart disease and cancer. Genomic data can provide information about variations in our genes that may determine how we process or metabolize certain compounds, like medications. In some cases, this information can be helpful to determine who may respond well to a certain medication and who may not respond well. In this way, genomic data can provide some guidance to the development and use of medications. In the future, we will know more about these gene variants and will be better at treating people in a more individualized manner.
Kannapolis Middle School in NC (8th grade student)
857
My question is concerning epigenetics. Lemarqe wrongly hypothesized that animals evolved because they needed to. A giraffe would develop a longer neck because it needed it for feeding. He was proved wrong by Darwin, of course. If epigenetics is about how genes can be turned on or off to enable survival, doesn't this conflict with natural selection, and prove Lemarque right?
     Alan Guttmacher, M.D.: Developing new research tools to translate the findings of the Human Genome Project (HGP) into new diagnostic tests and therapies. Great question!!!! Assuming you came up with it, you have the makings of a real scientist, since the key to good science is asking important questions. In brief, epigenetics does not "conflict" with natural selection, but only affects our thinking about the various ways it occurs, and demonstrates that it is a dynamic and complicated process. It also underscores that we still have much to learn about genetics and much that we assume to be correct - or at least complete - may eventually prove wrong or incomplete. It is certainly true that epigenetics, as we now incompletely understand it, does suggest that there may be mechanisms that can modify the genes that we hand off to our descendants.
Academy of the Sacred Heart Bloomfield Hills in MI (12th grade student)
858
What is the latest DNA information found?
     Mary Schueler, Ph.D.: Comparing the DNA sequence of essential chromosomal regions from multiple primates to define functional changes that have occurred during evolution. Information about DNA is being found all the time. New genomes are being sequenced that can be compared with those already sequenced. Comparison of genomes allows us to learn from the things that have changed or stayed the same through evolution. We can use model organisms and their genomes to analyze disease progression and test treatments and interventions.
Holy Family Catholic High School in MN (9th grade student)
859
Why is dna Helix Shaped
     Elliott Margulies, Ph.D.: Uses new genomic sequencing technologies to decipher how our genome encodes functional sequences. It turns out that the helical structure of DNA allows it to be replicated and transcribed in a very elegant way. Indeed, Watson and Crick noted this in their publication revealing the structure of DNA 55 years ago today!
Kittanning Senior High School in PA (10th grade student)
860
Why do some people have different colored eyes from other people?
     Julie Segre, Ph.D.: Combining classical genetics techniques and modern genomic tools, her laboratory uses mouse models to investigate the function of novel genes important for in utero human epidermal development, normal wound healing, and skin regeneration. Eye color is genetically based, but there are both dominant and recessive eye colors. The child of two blue-eyed people will have blue eyes (recessive trait), but the child of two brown-eyed people can have brown eyes (dominant trait) or blue-eyes (underlying recessive trait).
Holy Family Catholic High School in MN (9th grade student)
861
How much do geneticists contribute to military research?
     M.K. Holohan, J.D.: Works with the Policy Branch at NHGRI on issues related to Genetics and Policy. Genetic research contributes in many areas to military medical research, but it's unclear to what extent genetics research relates to military defenses or biological weaponry. The research in genetics will surely advance many other areas of research, including military concerns.
Alpharetta High School in GA (9th grade student)
862
Is biotechnology related to human genome research ?
     Julie Segre, Ph.D.: Combining classical genetics techniques and modern genomic tools, her laboratory uses mouse models to investigate the function of novel genes important for in utero human epidermal development, normal wound healing, and skin regeneration. Biotechnology is intricate human genome research both in development of new techniques and implementation of research discoveries.
samar,pharmacy college graduate,Egypt (Higher Education student)
863
genetically speaking who would win in a fight between superman and Batman
     Phyllis Frosst, Ph.D.: Investigating genetic discrimination, direct to consumer marketing of genetic tests and pharmacogenomics. Well, from casual observation, Superman has super-human powers, strongly suggesting several unusual causative mutations. Batman, being mortal like us, uses his intelligence, strength training and creativity to fight the powers of darkness. Your guess is as good as mine, unless Batman starts carving bats out of Kryptonite.
Holy Family Catholic High School in MN (9th grade student)
864
How close are the DNA of a human versus apes?
     Mary Schueler, Ph.D.: Comparing the DNA sequence of essential chromosomal regions from multiple primates to define functional changes that have occurred during evolution. Overall, the DNA sequence of humans and apes is about 98% identical. We have found recently, however, that there are more types of variation found between these closely related species. When you can compare a stretch of DNA sequence between them, the identity is on the order of 98%, however, there are more insertions and deletions of small pieces and sometimes longer stretches of DNA. These types of changes can interrupt genes or the elements that control the expression of genes. It is thought that most of the characteristic differences between humans and apes is due to changes in time or place of expression of genes rather than to actual sequence changes.
Holy Family Catholic High School in MN (9th grade student)
865
Is there DNA in space?
     Belen Hurle, Ph.D.: Generating data for use in developing and refining computational tools for comparing genomic sequence from multiple vertebrate species. Great question. I would guess that astronauts are very careful not to spread biological waste, including DNA when up there. I don't know if DNA exists in other planets in our solar system, or other solar systems -- but it has not been described yet.
Westview High School in CA (9th grade student)
866
Have scientists figured out a way to pinpoint lifespan on DNA?
     Francis Collins, M.D., Ph.D.: Identifying and understanding genes involved in human disease, including type II diabetes. I am sorry that Francis had to go back to work, but he wanted me to answer your question for him. There is no way yet (and probably never will be) to truly "pinpoint" the lifespan of a species or of an individual in our DNA. However, we are beginning to identify specific parts of our DNA that influence lifespan. Maybe your generation will be able to figure all this out!!!
Abbeville High School in SC (12th grade student)
867
My sister has breast cancer and my father died from pancreatic cancer, so the BRCA gene may be mutated in my family. Is there a kit I can buy to check this mutation myself?
     Don Hadley, M.S., C.G.C.: Researching the components of a genetic counseling session, including how people are informed of genetic disorders and how they make decisions regarding genetic testing. No, this test can only be done through a physician and is best done through a cancer genetics team who understand the concerns of people considering such testing. When considering genetic testing, it most appropriate to begin with a person in the family who has had the disease like your sister or your father. If a mutation is identified in them, then a genetic test on a relative becomes mush more straight forward and meaningful. You can find a listing of cancer genetics teams in your area by going to a web site developed by the National Cancer Institute (http://www.cancer.gov/search/geneticsservices/). Since genetic tests are so complicated to understand, it is best done with the help of a specialist. Good luck and feel free to contact our Institute with more questions.
wake forest university in NC (Higher Education )
868
What is a prion?
     Julie Segre, Ph.D.: Combining classical genetics techniques and modern genomic tools, her laboratory uses mouse models to investigate the function of novel genes important for in utero human epidermal development, normal wound healing, and skin regeneration. Prions are protein that cause a neurodegenerative disease - caused scrapie in animals and Jacob-Creuzfeld disease in humans. The amazing thing about prions is that one protein can cause a change in another normal protein so the heredity is at the protein not DNA level.
RadPharm Polytechnical institute in NJ (Higher Education student)
869
Why is it believed that mental diseases in a parent means that there is a likely chance for the offspriing to experiance the same mental disease?
     David Everman, M.D.: Assisting in clinical care and research for patients with several different genetic disorders that affect growth, development, and health. There are many different diseases or disorders that can affect the functions of the brain. Some of these cause intellectual disabilities (like mental retardation) and others can affect emotions or behavior (like depression). Genetic factors often contribute to these conditions, but the chance for a specific condition to be passed from parent to child may depend, at least in part, on how strong the genetic factors are in that particular family.
Alpharetta High School in GA (9th grade student)
870
How much must DNA be magnified to be seen?
     Elliott Margulies, Ph.D.: Uses new genomic sequencing technologies to decipher how our genome encodes functional sequences. One strand of DNA is only about 2.5 nanometers wide, and you'd need a very powerful microscope to see that. However, when we purify DNA to work with it in the lab, we get so much that you can see it by eye -- it looks like white stringy snot!
St. Ignatius College Prep in IL (12th grade student)
871
When cells die does their DNA die?
     Sarah Knerr, B.A.: I am a post-baccalaureate fellow in a lab whose research addresses the intersection of human genetic variation, constructs of race and ethnicity, and health disparities. My current projects explore the roles of race, ethnicity and ancestry in how physicians make decisions about preconception genetic testing and how genetic researchers describe populations in studies of human genetic variation. Cell function and DNA stability are related, so in a way, yes. When cells die their DNA is no longer transcribed and translated into functional products and when DNA is damaged it does not create the proteins necessary to maintain healthy cells.
Westview High School in CA (9th grade student)
872
Is it possible to create artificial DNA in order to create a human-made organism?
     Julie Segre, Ph.D.: Combining classical genetics techniques and modern genomic tools, her laboratory uses mouse models to investigate the function of novel genes important for in utero human epidermal development, normal wound healing, and skin regeneration. We can only make short stretches of artificial DNA, so we wouldn't be able to create a human-made DNA chromosome de novo. Moreover, an organism is made up of more that DNA - it has cellular organelles such as mitochondria.
Alpharetta High School in GA (9th grade student)
873
Can pieces of DNA be lost during cell division? If so is that considered a mutation?
     Phyllis Frosst, Ph.D.: Investigating genetic discrimination, direct to consumer marketing of genetic tests and pharmacogenomics. DNA mutations often occur in the form of deletions (lost pieces of DNA). The most common cystic fibrosis causing mutation is a deletion of three DNA bases, resulting in the loss of an entire amino acid.
Westview High School in CA (9th grade student)
874
Are you coming up with a cure for Tay Sachs disease?
     Flavia Facio, M.S., C.G.C.: Interested in learning the contribution of genetics to common diseases, such as heart disease and cancer. There are some therapies being investigated. These include therapies using enzyme inhibitors to reduce the amount of the chemicals that lead to problems in people with Tay Sachs. For information on clinical studies looking at these treatments, you can log on to www.clinicaltrials.gov and search for Tay Sachs.
Kannapolis Middle School in NC (8th grade student)
875
Holy Family Catholic High School in MN (9th grade student)
876
Do NHGRI scientists frequently travel to other parts of the world?
     Vence Bonham, J.D.: The ethical, legal, social and policy implications of genomic discoveries, particularly health professionals' and lay persons' understanding of race, ethnicity and genetics. Many research initiatives in the field of genomics are international (e.g. International Sequencing Consortium, International HapMap Project). This requires collaboration with researchers across the world so researchers at NHGRI do travel to participate in these collaborations and to present at meetings. I would not say the travel is frequent.
University of California - Santa Barbara in CA (Higher Education student)
877
How much DNA does a zygote have?
     Phyllis Frosst, Ph.D.: Investigating genetic discrimination, direct to consumer marketing of genetic tests and pharmacogenomics. A zygote, which results from the union of two haploid cells (a sperm and an egg) is a dilpoid cell with as much DNA as the somatic cells in your body.
Arleta High School in CA (10th grade student)
878
Can a paternity test be performed before the baby is born?
     Alan Guttmacher, M.D.: Developing new research tools to translate the findings of the Human Genome Project (HGP) into new diagnostic tests and therapies. Yes, but only if one has access to the DNA of the fetus before it is born - as well as the DNA of the mother and the potential father. Getting DNA from the fetus is not easy, and poses some risk to the pregnancy, so one would almost always wait until after birth to do paternity testing.
Arleta High School in CA (11th grade student)

Information - Moderator Congratulations, chatters. You've asked and we've answered more questions than last year, and we still have nearly two hours to go. Tally ho!!!


880
In the Human Genome Project, did researchers sequence one chromosome at a time? If so, what was the first and last chromosome that was sequenced?
     Julie Segre, Ph.D.: Combining classical genetics techniques and modern genomic tools, her laboratory uses mouse models to investigate the function of novel genes important for in utero human epidermal development, normal wound healing, and skin regeneration. I was part of that project and we found it more efficient to develop the resources and sequence all the chromosomes concurrently. But some chromosomes were sequenced first because they are so small - like chromosome 21 and Y. Then we released the draft human genome all together.
Shaker High School in NY (9th grade student)
881
How does DNA change during evolution?
     Mary Schueler, Ph.D.: Comparing the DNA sequence of essential chromosomal regions from multiple primates to define functional changes that have occurred during evolution. There are a number of ways that DNA can change during evolution. DNA can change at the single base pair level, meaning just one base changes. New DNA can insert into a stretch of DNA and DNA can also be deleted. Inversion of a stretch of DNA or displacement of a stretch of DNA from one location to another can also occur. The genome is a very dynamic place. These changes take place due to several different mechanisms.
Bednarcik Junior High School in IL (8th grade student)
882
Does DNA determine how short you are?!
     Don Hadley, M.S., C.G.C.: Researching the components of a genetic counseling session, including how people are informed of genetic disorders and how they make decisions regarding genetic testing. DNA can play a significant role in determining our height, as we know of many genes and genetic conditions that affect a person's height. However, it is not the only factor that influences height. Other factors can play a role such as our nutritional status, hormone levels or having another medical problem such as having heart or kidney problems.
Holy Family Catholic High School in MN (9th grade student)
883
Which section of DNA codes for arms and legs? Have we found it yet?
     Belen Hurle, Ph.D.: Generating data for use in developing and refining computational tools for comparing genomic sequence from multiple vertebrate species. There are a set of very fundamental, core genes named homeobox genes that control the body plan in most animals. They determine the anatomy of the body, including front and back , ventral and dorsal , head and tail and limb development. Some of those genes control the budding of the limbs, and some determine whether a limb turns into a forelimb or hindlimb. These genes are remarkably conserved across species.
Westview High School in CA (9th grade student)
884
Are there a lot of career opportunities for law students in the field of genetics? If so, what are the career paths?
     M.K. Holohan, J.D.: Works with the Policy Branch at NHGRI on issues related to Genetics and Policy. There are many opportunities for attorneys in science and genetics related to policy research, legislative analysis, and regulation. A law student interested in these areas should consider summer jobs and/or internships focused on genetics health policy with federal agencies and Congressional committees.
University of Maryland - College Park in MD (Higher Education student)
885
Is anyone researching the function of the non-coding regions of DNA?
     Elliott Margulies, Ph.D.: Uses new genomic sequencing technologies to decipher how our genome encodes functional sequences. yes, I am! (so are many other scientists) Only 1-2 percent of our genome codes for genes. The rest of the genome does all sorts of interesting things, like turning on and off genes at the right place and time.
Kannapolis Middle School in NC (Higher Education teacher)
886
Why does DNA mutation happen? How does DNA mutation help with variation?
     Mary Schueler, Ph.D.: Comparing the DNA sequence of essential chromosomal regions from multiple primates to define functional changes that have occurred during evolution. DNA mutation is thought to occur accidentally during the normal functioning of the cell. It can happen during DNA replication and not get repaired or it can happen during repair processes or as a result of mobile elements in the genome. It is thought that the vast majority of mutation has no effect on the health or function of the given cell or organism because it happens in a non-essential place. Some mutations are thought to result in negative or positive effects on the health or function of the cell or organism and are therefore actively done away with (through death of the cell or organism) or actively propagated because the mutation provides an advantage to the cell or organism that bears it.
Arleta High School in CA (10th grade student)
887
How does crossing over occur and why does it just occur in meiosis?
     Phyllis Frosst, Ph.D.: Investigating genetic discrimination, direct to consumer marketing of genetic tests and pharmacogenomics. Crossing-over is another name for recombination or physical exchange of equal pieces of adjacent non-sister chromatids. When crossing-over occurs, chromatids break and may be reattached to a different homologous chromosome. As you can see, crossing over actually causes changes in the DNA and so isn't a process that should occur in every cell! Crossing over is part of the process that leads to evolution and so is only used in this special case.
Westview High School in CA (9th grade student)
888
Do you perform DNA fingerprinting at your local job institute?
     Mary Schueler, Ph.D.: Comparing the DNA sequence of essential chromosomal regions from multiple primates to define functional changes that have occurred during evolution. I do not currently perform DNA fingerprinting at my job.
West Seneca East Senior High School in NY (10th grade student)
889
With our great technology, why is it so hard to take out a defective gene to prevent diseases?
     Flavia Facio, M.S., C.G.C.: Interested in learning the contribution of genetics to common diseases, such as heart disease and cancer. This is a great question! In some conditions the defective gene may not produce enough protein that is needed in our body. In these cases, it is easier for us to develop gene therapy because we can add a gene that makes that protein. In some conditions the defective gene may make a partial protein or a defective protein that leads to problems. In these cases, it is much more difficult to provide gene therapy because we cannot go in and alter that defective gene. The other challenge we face is that it is difficult to test these therapies in human subjects until we are sure that they are not dangerous.
Alpharetta High School in GA (9th grade student)
890
Arleta High School in CA (11th grade student)
891
What can bioinformatic tools currently do? What kinds of questions do you forsee being answered by bioinformatic tools? In other words, why should I encourage students to enter this field?
     Belen Hurle, Ph.D.: Generating data for use in developing and refining computational tools for comparing genomic sequence from multiple vertebrate species. I am a bioinformatician and I can tell you that it is a very hot field. Your students would be very well off if they chose this career path. Collecting data these days is easy and cheap, but analyzing data is still challenging. The data grows exponentially and only with computers can we make some sense of it. Some people write programs to analyze data, some people don't know how to write programs but know how to use other people's programs to answer biological questions.
Kannapolis Middle School in NC (Higher Education teacher)
892
In what ways will knowing the human genome help with different diseases?
     Sarah Harding M.P.H.: Creates and implements community engagement programs focusing on genetics. Genomic research helps to understand both the causes of different diseases, and also the potential ways to better treat diseases. It's important to understand how different genes contribute to the many diseases that influence human health.
Arleta High School in CA (10th grade student)
893
Is there a disorder that a person has too many chromosomes?
     Flavia Facio, M.S., C.G.C.: Interested in learning the contribution of genetics to common diseases, such as heart disease and cancer. Yes, there are disorders that are caused by too many chromosomes. One example of such disorder is Down Syndrome, which (in most cases) is caused by an extra copy of chromosome number 21. Instead of having two copies of such chromosome, individuals with Down Syndrome have three copies of it.
Bednarcik Junior High School in IL (8th grade student)
894
If someone is exposed to toxic substances, can this change their DNA, causing mutations?
     Phyllis Frosst, Ph.D.: Investigating genetic discrimination, direct to consumer marketing of genetic tests and pharmacogenomics. Yes, this happens frequently, although you may have to expand you standard list of what you think is a "toxic" substance. UV rays in sunlight, smoking and x-rays can all cause mutations. Fortunately, every cell has systems to repair most of this damage.
South Gate High School in CA (9th grade student)
895
How long did it take you to graduate with a Ph.D?
     Belen Hurle, Ph.D.: Generating data for use in developing and refining computational tools for comparing genomic sequence from multiple vertebrate species. Five years, which is pretty average. Some disciplines may take 4 years, some longer than 5.
Bednarcik Junior High School in IL (8th grade student)
896
How exactly do you perform the DNA fingerprinting process?
     Elliott Margulies, Ph.D.: Uses new genomic sequencing technologies to decipher how our genome encodes functional sequences. This is a great question, because a DNA fingerprint really doesn't "look" like a fingerprint -- but it is just as unique to each individual as a fingerprint. It turns out there are bits of DNA in your genome that change very rapidly from person to person. When you look at the DNA sequence from several of these rapidly changing places in the genome it is unique enough to match only you!
West Seneca East Senior High School in NY (10th grade student)
897
About how many times does a cell preform mitosis during its lifetime?
     Carla Easter, Ph.D.: Creates and implements genetic education programs. Works with the branch to create science education products for high school students. The number of times a cell replicates is dependent on the type of cell. For example, skin cells grow rapidly and therefore go through mitosis many times, but nerve cells never replicate.
Bednarcik Junior High School in IL (8th grade student)
898
How can Karyotypes help in genetic diagnosis?
     David Everman, M.D.: Assisting in clinical care and research for patients with several different genetic disorders that affect growth, development, and health. A karyotype refers to the chromosome pattern that can be seen under the microscope in cells from the body. Since many different genetic disorders are caused by having changes in the number or structure of chromosomes, certain disorders can often be diagnosed with a karyotype obtained from a sample of blood, skin, or even amniotic fluid. A good example is Down syndrome, which is usually caused by having an extra copy of chromosome 21 in every cell of the body.
Arleta High School in CA (10th grade student)
899
Does DNA tell you how you are going to be in the future?
     Sarah Harding M.P.H.: Creates and implements community engagement programs focusing on genetics. Our DNA gives us a certain amount of information about our future selves, but certainly does not tell us everything. Our environment is extremely important and influential on our health and future selves.
John C. Fremont High School in CA (10th grade student)
900
Why does inbreeding cause problems?
     Don Hadley, M.S., C.G.C.: Researching the components of a genetic counseling session, including how people are informed of genetic disorders and how they make decisions regarding genetic testing. Parents who are closely related, share more genes in common than unrelated persons. Since we all "silently" carry between 8 to 14 autosomal recessive gene mutations, having children with someone who shares a higher proportion of their genes increases the chances of passing 2 copies of a shared mutation to a child. This may result in a child of theirs having an autosomal recessive condition. This is of greatest concern between close relatives such as a brother and sister, but decreases as the relationship becomes further removed (cousins).
John Fraunberger in TN (Higher Education teacher)
901
How similar is human dna to all other organisms? More than 90% similar to every other living species?
     Mary Schueler, Ph.D.: Comparing the DNA sequence of essential chromosomal regions from multiple primates to define functional changes that have occurred during evolution. Generally, human DNA is most similar to more closely related species like the great apes - chimp, gorilla, and orangutan. These are more closely related to us in evolutionary time. Species that have been separated from us for longer periods of time share less similarity. As you compare with species farther away from us on the evolutionary tree, we observe that DNA sequences that code for proteins are conserved while other sequence is not. This is thought to be due to the necessary function of the proteins in the life of the cell. If the sequence changes, the cell can't survive. We are less than 90% similar to most other species. Even within the primate lineage, as compared to old world monkeys, protein coding sequences can vary by as much as 15% (be 85% similar). As you move further away to mice and flies and yeast, the percentage similarity falls off quite a bit.
Oberlin College in OH (Higher Education teacher)
902
If a DNA/gene is changed to say something else, say hair color, does the change happen right away or over a long period of time?
     Phyllis Frosst, Ph.D.: Investigating genetic discrimination, direct to consumer marketing of genetic tests and pharmacogenomics. It depends. In the case of hair and eye color, the recombined DNA that you inherit from your parents can cause you to look different from them in a single generation. If a hair pigment gene was gradually evolving to show a new color that didn't exist in nature, say blue or green, the accumulation of gradual changes would happen over a long period of time.
Souderton Area High School in PA (10th grade student)
903
Shikellamy High School in PA (9th grade student)
904
Are genes in fish similar to genes in frogs?
     Elliott Margulies, Ph.D.: Uses new genomic sequencing technologies to decipher how our genome encodes functional sequences. yes! There are some genes that are common to lots of species. At first glance, fish and frogs look so different you wouldn't think they have any genes in common. But, at a molecular level, they have lots in common, like the way they replicate DNA.
Shikellamy High School in PA (9th grade student)
905
Is it possible to choose the characteristics of your baby before it is born, and if so what are the possible characteristics you can choose?
     Sarah Harding M.P.H.: Creates and implements community engagement programs focusing on genetics. It is possible to choose some traits for an unborn child, through a technology called Pre-Implantation Genetic Diagnosis. PGD is typically used to help screen out certain harmful conditions, such as Tay Sachs disease. It is an important ethical discussion to determine when PGD is appropriate to use or not.
Arleta High School in CA (10th grade student)
906
Do kids have the same DNA as their mom and dad?
     Sarah Harding M.P.H.: Creates and implements community engagement programs focusing on genetics. Children inherit half of their chromosomes from each parent, so 50% from their mom, and 50% from their dad.
Lakota Teoutman in IN (7th grade student)
907
What part of our DNA is the same as a banana's?
     Phyllis Frosst, Ph.D.: Investigating genetic discrimination, direct to consumer marketing of genetic tests and pharmacogenomics. All of the genes that control how an individual cell works would be very similar, genes controlling skeletal development, size and skin pigmentation would be very very different.
Bednarcik Junior High School in IL (8th grade student)
908
Bednarcik Junior High School in IL (8th grade student)
909
Does the father of a child or the mother usually have more dominant genes?
     Mary Schueler, Ph.D.: Comparing the DNA sequence of essential chromosomal regions from multiple primates to define functional changes that have occurred during evolution. Dominant genes are not determined by the gender of the parent. A gene is dominant or recessive based upon the DNA sequence. They are called dominant and recessive based upon how they have an effect. A dominant gene is a gene variant that has an effect even if it comes from only one of your parents. A recessive gene is a gene variant that has an effect only if you get that variant from both parents.
Shikellamy High School in PA (9th grade student)
910
Would a NHGRI scientist ever travel out to a place such as California to give a guest presentation at a science-themed high school?
     Vence Bonham, J.D.: The ethical, legal, social and policy implications of genomic discoveries, particularly health professionals' and lay persons' understanding of race, ethnicity and genetics. Yes. Scientists do travel to speak at high schools and colleges across the country including California. We also conduct video webcast with schools. Have your teacher contact the Education and Community Involvement Branch at NHGRI.
Arleta High School in CA ()
911
What is the probability of a female under 20 getting breast cancer?
     Flavia Facio, M.S., C.G.C.: Interested in learning the contribution of genetics to common diseases, such as heart disease and cancer. A woman in the general population has 12% chance of developing breast cancer throughout her life. This risk is more significant as a woman enter her 40s. The chance of a woman in her teens or 20s to develop breast cancer is very low. Women in the general population are told to start breast cancer screening at age 40. In some cases, breast cancer may run in families and cause women to develop breast cancer at earlier ages. Even in these families, breast cancer is rare before 20s. Women in these families are told to start breast cancer screening in their mid 20s. If you are concerned about this, you should speak with your doctor.
Jackson High School in MO (11th grade student)
912
How does the Genetic Code decide when it will activate and deactivate a body process?
     Elliott Margulies, Ph.D.: Uses new genomic sequencing technologies to decipher how our genome encodes functional sequences. Our genome is able to control when and where specific genes get turned on and off. For example, eye genes only get turned on only in the eye, and not your hand. The parts of the genome that control this are called "regulatory elements".
Bednarcik Junior High School in IL (8th grade student)
913
Do you think that in the future a genetic disorder will be considered normal?
     Phyllis Frosst, Ph.D.: Investigating genetic discrimination, direct to consumer marketing of genetic tests and pharmacogenomics. Is there really such a thing as normal? People who are blind, deaf or born with a physical difficulty are, in most ways, as normal as anyone. We all carry genes that predispose us to genetic disorders such as diabetes, asthma or cancer, in reality every single one of us unique.
Arleta High School in CA (10th grade student)
914
Do you think DNA will ever be entirely figured out?
     Mary Schueler, Ph.D.: Comparing the DNA sequence of essential chromosomal regions from multiple primates to define functional changes that have occurred during evolution. I can't imagine ever having all of the answers. The process of research is to learn small things with certainty and then for these new tidbits to direct further investigations. We are learning so much since the genome project was undertaken but it is also staggering how much we have to learn.
Bednarcik Junior High School in IL (8th grade student)
915
What are the highs and lows of your job?
     Sarah Harding M.P.H.: Creates and implements community engagement programs focusing on genetics. I definitely love my job. My favorite parts are working with really interesting people, and knowing about the exciting things happening in genetics. My least favorite part of my job is that sometimes in science things happen very slowly, over a long period of time, so it's necessary to be pretty patient.
West Seneca East Senior High School in NY (10th grade student)
916
During meiosis, the chromosomes duplicate and exchange information (crossing over). Will half of a gene's information be exchanged with the other homologous chromosome?
     Elliott Margulies, Ph.D.: Uses new genomic sequencing technologies to decipher how our genome encodes functional sequences. It is possible for the cross over event to sometimes occur in the middle of a gene. So, you may have some genes that are half from Mom and half from Dad!
Westview High School in CA (9th grade student)
917
How do your genes determine if you get any diseases from the environment?
     Don Hadley, M.S., C.G.C.: Researching the components of a genetic counseling session, including how people are informed of genetic disorders and how they make decisions regarding genetic testing. We are learning that our genes play a role in our susceptibility to certain environmental exposures and even medicines. Certain changes within our genes may increase or even decrease the chance that a certain exposure may cause disease. You might also be interested in a field called pharmacogenetics. This field is attempting to learn what genotypes respond best to certain drugs and which don't. Knowing that would reduce the number of harmful reactions that some encounter when they take a medicine that does not work well with their genetic mae-up. Great question! Check out our web-site and browse around. (http://genome.gov)
Arleta High School in CA (10th grade student)
918
Has any genetic testing been done on Fibromyalgia and if yes what have you learned?
     Flavia Facio, M.S., C.G.C.: Interested in learning the contribution of genetics to common diseases, such as heart disease and cancer. There is no specific known genetic cause for Fibromyalgia. Some studies suggest that genetic factors may play a role in this disease, and researchers are trying to learn what these genetic factors may be. If you want to learn about clinical trials involving this condition, you may visit www.clinicaltrials.gov and search with "Fibromyalgia"
Kathy in CT (Higher Education )
919
Westview High School in CA (9th grade student)
920
Is it possible to study constantly and become a genuis or is it neccesary to have a certain gene to become one?
     Sarah Harding M.P.H.: Creates and implements community engagement programs focusing on genetics. Genetics probably has some effect on intelligence, but it is not yet clear how much. Intelligence definitely depends on how hard you study, and how dedicated you are to what topics are of interest to you.
Arleta High School in CA (11th grade student)
921
Since the number of chromosomes in an organism doesn't determine its complexity what does it determine?
     Belen Hurle, Ph.D.: Generating data for use in developing and refining computational tools for comparing genomic sequence from multiple vertebrate species. That is one of the best questions I got today. Organisms are very creative at using their DNA. For instance there is this strategy named "alternative splicing". Basically, you selectively splice together a number of exons or pieces of the same gene in different ways. That creates dozens of proteins with different functions, that all come out of only one gene. Another strategy is playing with the switches that turn the genes on and off to determine how much protein is expressed and in what tissue, or at what moment in development. All this together creates enormous complexity.
Westview High School in CA (9th grade student)
922
I am following up to a question answered by Belen Hurle, Ph.D.: so this species of ants only has the sex chromosome, the male one copy, the female two? Wow!
     Belen Hurle, Ph.D.: Generating data for use in developing and refining computational tools for comparing genomic sequence from multiple vertebrate species. Pretty cool, ha?
Sapulpa Middle School in OK (7th grade teacher)
923
What is James Watson doing today?
     Phyllis Frosst, Ph.D.: Investigating genetic discrimination, direct to consumer marketing of genetic tests and pharmacogenomics. I think one might have to ask him that question, unfortunately Dr. Watson doesn't use e-mail. Having recently had his genome sequenced, perhaps he's peering inside his own DNA.
Amanda Huginkis in NJ (10th grade student)
924
My aunt has Rett syndrome; does this have anything to do with dna?
     David Everman, M.D.: Assisting in clinical care and research for patients with several different genetic disorders that affect growth, development, and health. Yes. Rett syndrome is a genetic condition that affects the brain. It is usually caused by alterations in a specific gene (or segment of DNA) called MECP2 that is located on the X chromosome. An unusual aspect of Rett syndrome is that it typically affects females rather than males.
Souderton Area High School in PA (10th grade student)
925
Can DNA be studied by races? If so, how can the results be used?
     Vence Bonham, J.D.: The ethical, legal, social and policy implications of genomic discoveries, particularly health professionals' and lay persons' understanding of race, ethnicity and genetics. "Race" is a social construct that correlates with genetic population groups. In many genetic variation studies populations are often defined by race and ethnicity. We are learning about human genetic variation that will be important in understanding health and disease.
Pauling academy of integrated sciences in OR (12th grade student)
926
I'm really interested in becoming a scientist. But, my parents worry that I won't be able to support myself. What is the annual income of a scientist?
     Belen Hurle, Ph.D.: Generating data for use in developing and refining computational tools for comparing genomic sequence from multiple vertebrate species. I recommend you go to http://science.education.nih.gov/LifeWorks ; this site, LifeWorks, promotes awareness of the wide variety of occupations in health and medical sciences including the range of salaries.
St. Bernard Catholic High School in CA (10th grade student)
927
Taq polymerase is used in PCR and can withstand the temperature of PCR, but why can't other enzymes withstand the temperature?
     Elliott Margulies, Ph.D.: Uses new genomic sequencing technologies to decipher how our genome encodes functional sequences. Taq polymerase comes from an organism that lives in hot springs (like "old faithful" at Yellowstone). Since this is a very hot place, this organism evolved to have cellular machinery that could work under these extreme conditions. Wasn't that a cool idea to use a polymerase from this organism?!?
Westview High School in CA (9th grade student)
928
How is it it possible for one person in your family to have complete opposite characterists than all the others?
     Mary Schueler, Ph.D.: Comparing the DNA sequence of essential chromosomal regions from multiple primates to define functional changes that have occurred during evolution. Physical characteristics are generally believed to be determined by genes. The pool of genes that you and your siblings had to work with comes from your 4 grandparents. This pool of genes is carried on chromosomes that are inherited as discrete objects however each chromosome that comes through your parents contains a mixture of the DNA of their parents. This shuffling of DNA results in unique combinations of genes that existed in different combinations in your ancestor. This diversity is important and means that each person is truly unique.
Souderton Area High School in PA (10th grade student)
929
I have 3 siblings and all of us have grown up in the same environment, raised by the same parents, recieved the same parents genes, etc... So why are we so unbelievably different? Do genetics play a role in this?
     Mary Schueler, Ph.D.: Comparing the DNA sequence of essential chromosomal regions from multiple primates to define functional changes that have occurred during evolution. Physical characteristics are generally believed to be determined by genes. The pool of genes that you and your siblings had to work with comes from your 4 grandparents. This pool of genes is carried on chromosomes that are inherited as discrete objects however each chromosome that comes through your parents contains a mixture of the DNA of their parents. This shuffling of DNA results in unique combinations of genes that existed in different combinations in your ancestor. This diversity is important and means that each person is truly unique.
Alpharetta High School in GA (9th grade student)
930
Can you tell if a mutation will occur in advance?
     Sarah Knerr, B.A.: I am a post-baccalaureate fellow in a lab whose research addresses the intersection of human genetic variation, constructs of race and ethnicity, and health disparities. My current projects explore the roles of race, ethnicity and ancestry in how physicians make decisions about preconception genetic testing and how genetic researchers describe populations in studies of human genetic variation. There are certain areas in the genome that are more prone to mutation and also certain conditions, like exposure to chemicals, that make it more likely for them to occur, but currently there is no way to predict with certainty naturally occurring mutations.
Holy Family Catholic High School in MN (9th grade student)
931
Do you need math analysis in the field of DNA?
     Elliott Margulies, Ph.D.: Uses new genomic sequencing technologies to decipher how our genome encodes functional sequences. I think math is good to know for almost any field. We use math for all sorts of things when studying DNA, from diluting chemicals in the lab to measuring the statistical significance of a result.
Arleta High School in CA (11th grade student)
932
What causes dwarfism?
     Flavia Facio, M.S., C.G.C.: Interested in learning the contribution of genetics to common diseases, such as heart disease and cancer. Dwarfism can be caused by many conditions. There are more than 200 different conditions that cause dwarfism. Some of these are genetic, some are related to metabolism or hormones. There is a condition called Achondroplasia that causes about 70% of all cases of dwarfism. If you want to learn more about this, you can go to www.nlm.nih.gov
Arleta High School in CA (11th grade student)
933
Is there anything that can destroy DNA?
     Carla Easter, Ph.D.: Creates and implements genetic education programs. Works with the branch to create science education products for high school students. Conditions such as intense heat, radiation, ultraviolet light and harsh chemical conditions can cause DNA degrade.
Westview High School in CA (9th grade student)
934
What are cytogenetics?
     Mary Schueler, Ph.D.: Comparing the DNA sequence of essential chromosomal regions from multiple primates to define functional changes that have occurred during evolution. Cytogenetics is the study of chromosomes using live cells. Cells are cultured to be dividing and going through mitosis. The cells can be prepared and fixed on a slide and the chromosomes viewed down a microscope. Using fluorescently labeled probes, the scientist can look down the scope and see features of the chromosome organization and content.
Arleta High School in CA (10th grade student)
935
Is it still possible to retrieve the DNA from a fossil plant? kthx
     Phyllis Frosst, Ph.D.: Investigating genetic discrimination, direct to consumer marketing of genetic tests and pharmacogenomics. It certainly is, DNA can be extracted from many ancient species.
Westview High School in CA (9th grade student)
936
Would it be possible to greatly slow down the aging process by stopping mitochondrial decay?
     Elliott Margulies, Ph.D.: Uses new genomic sequencing technologies to decipher how our genome encodes functional sequences. That's an interesting hypothesis -- maybe you should become a scientist!
George P. Butler Comprehensive High school in GA (11th grade student)
937
During mitosis, when the chromosomes break up into chromatids, go to seperate sides of the cell, and finish the other side of the DNA, where does the other half of the DNA come from?
     Elliott Margulies, Ph.D.: Uses new genomic sequencing technologies to decipher how our genome encodes functional sequences. The cell synthesizes it using one strand of DNA as a template. It's a pretty cool process (called replication) that is incredibly accurate.
Bednarcik Junior High School in IL (8th grade student)
938
What classes would you have to take to enter this field of work?
     Sarah Knerr, B.A.: I am a post-baccalaureate fellow in a lab whose research addresses the intersection of human genetic variation, constructs of race and ethnicity, and health disparities. My current projects explore the roles of race, ethnicity and ancestry in how physicians make decisions about preconception genetic testing and how genetic researchers describe populations in studies of human genetic variation. A lot, but they're fun. The class that you need to take depend on the specific field that you're interested in. As a biochemistry major I took classes in general biology, general chemistry, genetics, organic chemistry, bioinformatics, physical chemistry, and physics. Statistics are also important too!
Waterville High School in WA (10th grade student)
939
Is alcoholism hereditary? Does it pass through a family?
     Phyllis Frosst, Ph.D.: Investigating genetic discrimination, direct to consumer marketing of genetic tests and pharmacogenomics. Alcoholism has been demonstrated to "run" in families, and some genes involved have been identified. Remember though, that many genetic and environmental factors contribute to alcoholism.
St Joseph High School in MS (10th grade student)
940
How do you determine the odds of a child receiving a genetic disorder from his parents?
     Don Hadley, M.S., C.G.C.: Researching the components of a genetic counseling session, including how people are informed of genetic disorders and how they make decisions regarding genetic testing. Great question. The likelihood of a genetic condition being passed from parent to child depends on the genetic basis of the disease in question. It may also depend on how frequent the disease gene occurs within the population. For example, if a parent has a autosomal dominantly inherited disease like Huntington's disease, then the child would have a 50% risk of inheriting the disease causing gene. If the parent has an autosomal recessive condition, then the chance for a child to be affected with that condition would depend on how common the disease is within the population. If you'd like to learn more, go to the Genetics Home Reference web site (http://ghr.nlm.nih.gov/) for more information and examples.
Scarlet Oaks in OH (12th grade student)
941
What is you opinion on people with genetic disorders reproducing?
     Vence Bonham, J.D.: The ethical, legal, social and policy implications of genomic discoveries, particularly health professionals' and lay persons' understanding of race, ethnicity and genetics. I believe that is a personal decision. We should learn from the eugenics movement in the United States and avoid repeating that history.
Scarlet Oaks in OH (12th grade student)
942
If chimps are 99% genetically identical to humans, what are the genes that make us different? Can those genes be interchanged and to what effect?
     Belen Hurle, Ph.D.: Generating data for use in developing and refining computational tools for comparing genomic sequence from multiple vertebrate species. Very smart question indeed. This relates to my research, actually. I study the genomes of about 20 primates and try to trace meaningful genetic differences that can explain major biological differences. Sometimes it is a mere base change that alters in a radical way the way an important protein works. Sometimes a gene has been lost selectively in a given species or on the contrary has expanded to many copies in another. Sometimes there is a karyotype difference. For instance chimps have one more chromosome than humans (in humans two chromosomes are fused).
Pauling academy of integrated sciences in OR (10th grade teacher)
947
What are some of the jobs that you can get learning about DNA?
     Belen Hurle, Ph.D.: Generating data for use in developing and refining computational tools for comparing genomic sequence from multiple vertebrate species. Hey! visit Lifeworks at http://science.education.nih.gov/LifeWorks for some ideas.
John C. Fremont High School in CA (9th grade student)
948
My grandfather died of a heart attack; should i be worried that i might have a heart attack myself? Do things like this tend to skip generations or do they occur more commonly?
     Flavia Facio, M.S., C.G.C.: Interested in learning the contribution of genetics to common diseases, such as heart disease and cancer. Good question! Heart disease is a "complex" condition, which means that both genetics and environment play a role in causing the disease. In some cases genetics may play a bigger role than in others. For example, families which have several relatives with heart disease and people with heart attacks at earlier ages. If you are concerned about your family history, you should speak with your doctor. He and she can look at your family history and decide if you and your family should be seen by a genetics' specialist.
Souderton Area High School in PA (10th grade student)
949
If there are only 23 chrosomes in each sex cell and fertilization occurs, what will happen if the pregnant female is having twins?Will the zygote divide and still have 46 chromosomes?
     Elliott Margulies, Ph.D.: Uses new genomic sequencing technologies to decipher how our genome encodes functional sequences. Absolutely. Twins can happen two different ways -- the first way is when two eggs are fertilized by two different sperm at the same time (fraternal), the other way is when the very early dividing zygote splits into two separate clumps of cells that each develop separately (identical).
Westview High School in CA (9th grade student)
950
Why do specific drugs affect one patient differently than another?
     Sarah Harding M.P.H.: Creates and implements community engagement programs focusing on genetics. Differences in DNA make each of us respond differently to drugs. You can just think about how some people are really sensitive to coffee (like me, it keeps me up all night) and others can drink a cup and still go right to sleep. It all has to do with how our bodies metabolize (utilize) different drugs, which is influenced by our genes. This is a field called pharmacogenomics, and is a huge field of research for the future.
Samar (Higher Education student)
951
My son may have Marfan Syndrome. He has never been diagnosed but it's been suggested by his heart doctor that we see a geneticist. Should he?
     David Everman, M.D.: Assisting in clinical care and research for patients with several different genetic disorders that affect growth, development, and health. Marfan syndrome is a genetic disorder that can affect the skeleton, cardiovascular system, eyes, and other areas of the body. Clinical geneticists play an important role in helping to diagnose Marfan syndrome, providing genetic counseling to affected persons and their families, and working with other doctors to prevent or manage the related health issues. So, I would agree with the advice of your son's heart doctor and have a talk with your son about seeing a geneticist.
Mary Roberts in IL ()
953
This is an ethics question. If my DNA is assayed and it says that I will, in all possibilites, have a terminal disease, can a health insurance company refuse me coverage? And, even if congress passes a law that says you can't be denied coverage of your genome, how can health insurance be guaranteed for all Americans reagardless of your DNA content?
     Phyllis Frosst, Ph.D.: Investigating genetic discrimination, direct to consumer marketing of genetic tests and pharmacogenomics. The Genetic Information Non-Discrimination Act just passed the senate 95-0 yesterday afternoon and will go to the President to sign, likely within two weeks, and will soon protect us all from health insurance and employment discrimination. Passage of this bill has been a process of over 13 years of effort, and congress should be commended on its passage. In terms of health insurance for all Americans, this is a question that some of the most brilliant minds in the US are attempting to address. The answer is most likely some form of Nationalized Health care.
Pauling academy of integrated sciences in OR (12th grade student)
954
The definition for things in science are constantly changing over the years. how does this effect the work you do?
     Belen Hurle, Ph.D.: Generating data for use in developing and refining computational tools for comparing genomic sequence from multiple vertebrate species. Well, you try to keep updated by reading the literature. You keep an open mind to other people's ideas (stubbornness and science don't go together). Consider how cool it is when you get to be the one that changes the definition of something with your hard work!
Maple Shade High School in NJ (10th grade student)
955
How can the frequency of crossing over be estimated?
     Elliott Margulies, Ph.D.: Uses new genomic sequencing technologies to decipher how our genome encodes functional sequences. This can be estimated by measuring what parts of a genome came from which parent. If there are very long parts of the genome that came from only one parent, then the frequency is low. But if a stretch of the genome is alternating back and forth from each parent, then the cross over frequency is high.
Arleta High School in CA (10th grade student)
956
how long is dna?u c l a students say it goes 2 to 3 time around the world,my teacher said it goes from texas to washington d.c,the 7th grade textbook says its 7 kilometers
     Arjun Prasad, B.S.: Comparing genome sequences of different animals to understand how they are related and how genomes evolve. Individual nucleotides are very very small. A single base pair is about 0.00000000034 meters. However there a very large number of them in the human genome. The human genome is about 3 billion base pairs in total (separated into 23 chromosomes) and 2 copies of each. 3.5 billion base pairs * 2 copies per cell * 0.00000000034 meters = 2.38 meters. A very rough estimate of the number of cells in the body is 10^13 so multiply that by 2.38 meters and 2.38x10^13 meters which is about 133 times the distance from the earth to the sun.
Palms Middle School in CA (7th grade student)
957
My friend Rick waivers on whether he should get genetic counselling. What are the benefits to this? Should everyone do this or just those planning to have kids?
     Don Hadley, M.S., C.G.C.: Researching the components of a genetic counseling session, including how people are informed of genetic disorders and how they make decisions regarding genetic testing. Genetic counseling is usually considered by persons who either have a genetic or inherited disease or have a family history of of a condition that they have concerns about for themselves or their children. Genetic counseling can help provide information about the disorder in question, clarify risks to others in the family and possibly learn about ways to reduce risks or prevent the disease.
James K. Polk HS in OH (9th grade student)

Information - Moderator Here are the winners from the ASHG DNA Day Essay Contest.

High School (9th- 12th graders)

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

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

2nd Briana Skalski, Archmere Academy, Claymont, DE

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

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

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

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

3rd Christian Fagel, Archmere Academy, Claymont, DE

Middle School (7th and 8th graders)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

3rd Elizabeth Cole, Home School, Virginia



959
I have a video from the 1990s about gene therapy being tried on SCIDS patients. Does gene therapy work on children born with SCIDS to develop their own immune system now?
     Greg Feero, M.D., Ph.D.: I work to help make emerging genetic technologies more accessible to health professionals. Gene therapy for genetic disorders has presented major challenges to scientists. In general challenges of delivering the gene to the target cells, immune system rejection of the gene therapy vectors, and difficulty in maintaining long term gene expression have limited the effectiveness of gene therapy approaches. For some rare blood disorders such as SCIDS there have been notable early success, but over time questions have arisen regarding long term health consequences of the therapies. A resource for information on gene therapy and clinical trials can be found at www.clinicaltrials.gov by searching on the disease types of interest.
Sapulpa Middle School in OK (7th grade teacher)
960
Is there a possiblity that intelligence can be herditary?
     Sarah Knerr, B.A.: I am a post-baccalaureate fellow in a lab whose research addresses the intersection of human genetic variation, constructs of race and ethnicity, and health disparities. My current projects explore the roles of race, ethnicity and ancestry in how physicians make decisions about preconception genetic testing and how genetic researchers describe populations in studies of human genetic variation. Like most traits, intelligence is influenced by a complicated combination of the genes that you inherit from your parents (heredity) and the environment that you are exposed to (nutrition, education, and many other factors that we still don't know!).
Alpharetta High School in GA (9th grade student)
961
How does DNA taste?
     Sarah Harding M.P.H.: Creates and implements community engagement programs focusing on genetics. It tastes like whatever food it's in! I prefer chocolate...but seriously, I've never tasted purified DNA...
Meridian High School in WA (10th grade student)
962
Can you prevent any mutations in the DNA from happening?
     Elliott Margulies, Ph.D.: Uses new genomic sequencing technologies to decipher how our genome encodes functional sequences. The main thing you can do to prevent DNA mutations is to avoid or minimize your exposure to things that are known to mutate DNA. For example, you should NEVER smoke (which mutates the DNA in your lungs to cause lung cancer) and you should always put on sun block when you're out at the beach -- this will help minimize your chances of getting skin cancer!
Arleta High School in CA (10th grade student)
963
Are genes really the only thing that defines us? Is everything we are based on our gene?
     Vence Bonham, J.D.: The ethical, legal, social and policy implications of genomic discoveries, particularly health professionals' and lay persons' understanding of race, ethnicity and genetics. I think it would be a terrible mistake to believe that genes are the only things that define us. We are defined by many things our spiritual beliefs, family, community and social and physical environments.
San Fernando High School in CA (10th grade student)
964
How many components are there in a piece of DNA?
     Phyllis Frosst, Ph.D.: Investigating genetic discrimination, direct to consumer marketing of genetic tests and pharmacogenomics. A single basepair of DNA is made of multiple Carbon, Oxygen and Hydrogen molecules in addition to many others. If by components you mean chemical "modules" each basepair of DNA is made from two bases (A, C, T or G), two sugar molecules and two phosphate groups.
Shikellamy High School in PA (9th grade student)
965
Have you guys discovered any new genes?
     Belen Hurle, Ph.D.: Generating data for use in developing and refining computational tools for comparing genomic sequence from multiple vertebrate species. I have! I once discovered a gene involved in the development of the sense of balance. When the gene was mutated in a mouse, the mouse had problems in the inner ear and consequently resulted in no equilibrium.
Bednarcik Junior High School in IL (8th grade student)
966
What is your favorite assay to preform in the lab and why?
     Elliott Margulies, Ph.D.: Uses new genomic sequencing technologies to decipher how our genome encodes functional sequences. I LOVE to sequence DNA all day long! In fact, our lab just got a new machine that can sequence over a gigabase of sequence in just 3 days!
Fairmont State University in WV (Higher Education student)
967
Can a person's intelligence be determined by their genes?
     Arjun Prasad, B.S.: Comparing genome sequences of different animals to understand how they are related and how genomes evolve. All the characteristics of a person are the product of many things including their genetic code and the environment they developed in. One problem with genes determining intelligence is that we don't have a good definition of intelligence. Assuming that we could find a good definition of intelligence there may be variants of genes that affect intelligence, but most "complex" traits such as intelligence are defined by many genes and many many environmental factors together.
Arleta High School in CA (11th grade student)
968
I read that there is a possibility of the gene for red hair becoming obselete within the next 20 yrs. Is this true?
     Phyllis Frosst, Ph.D.: Investigating genetic discrimination, direct to consumer marketing of genetic tests and pharmacogenomics. This is a myth. Although recessive genes can have low occurrence in the population (red hair is recessive) enough people carry the gene that red hair is not likely to disappear anytime soon.
Cleveland High School in MS (Higher Education teacher)
969
Do you work by yourself or with others?
     Sarah Harding M.P.H.: Creates and implements community engagement programs focusing on genetics. One of the reasons I love my job so much is all of the different people I get to work with. Scientists, policy analysts, photographers, artists, writers...very different people who all make the field of genetics extremely interesting.
Bednarcik Junior High School in IL (8th grade student)
970
My mother and father both have high blood pressure, but my grandparents did not. Should i be worried ?
     Flavia Facio, M.S., C.G.C.: Interested in learning the contribution of genetics to common diseases, such as heart disease and cancer. High blood pressure is a "complex" condition. This means that both genetics and environment (such as diet) play a role in causing this condition. When you get older, it will be important for you to talk with your doctor about your family history and to receive regular check-ups. If you would like to look at your family history more closely, you can go to the following website and follow instructions on how to create your own family history. www.familyhistory.hhs.gov
Lugoff-Elgin High School in SC (10th grade student)
971
what is a neurodegenerative disease?
     Don Hadley, M.S., C.G.C.: Researching the components of a genetic counseling session, including how people are informed of genetic disorders and how they make decisions regarding genetic testing. A neurodegenerative disease is a disease which affects the nervous system and progressively gets worse over time. Neurodegenerative diseases can be inherited or have complex causes that combine environmental and genetic causes. Some examples of inherited neurodegenerative diseases include Huntington's disease, Friedreich's Ataxia, and Spinocerebellar Ataxia.
John C. Fremont High School in CA (10th grade student)
972
What are the symptoms of sickle cell disease?
     Greg Feero, M.D., Ph.D.: I work to help make emerging genetic technologies more accessible to health professionals. Patients with sickle cell disease can present with a variety of symptoms. One of the most common symptoms is pain in an extremity as a result of decreased blood flow as a result of the cells sickling and slowing down the flow. Patients are also more likely to develop certain types of infections which can affect a variety of different parts of the body. You can learn more about sickle cell disease by searching the term on www.genome.gov, or for more detail, by looking at www.genetests.org.
Kannapolis Middle School in NC (8th grade student)
973
how many years do you have to go to school to get a Ph.D?
     Sarah Harding M.P.H.: Creates and implements community engagement programs focusing on genetics. That depends on the Ph.D. program. It can be anywhere from 4-8 years. Usually in the sciences it takes a bit longer, and some fields require a post-doctoral fellowship.
Kannapolis Middle School in NC (8th grade student)
974
Do you know of any free sites to watch videos about DNA?
     Sarah Harding M.P.H.: Creates and implements community engagement programs focusing on genetics. Yes! There are a number of videos on the NHGRI Education site at www.genome.gov. Videos include animations of protein synthesis, descriptions of the life of a scientist, and even a program showing how dance was used to teach genetics!
Eastmont High School in WA (10th grade student)
975
If a mother and a father both have blue eyes, can a child have brown eyes?
     Sarah Knerr, B.A.: I am a post-baccalaureate fellow in a lab whose research addresses the intersection of human genetic variation, constructs of race and ethnicity, and health disparities. My current projects explore the roles of race, ethnicity and ancestry in how physicians make decisions about preconception genetic testing and how genetic researchers describe populations in studies of human genetic variation. There is tremendous variation in human eye color and all the genes that play a role have not been identified (we know three!). Parents' eye color does not predict a child's eye color, so it's possible that two people with blue eyes could have a child with brown eyes.
Waterville High School in WA (10th grade student)
976
Can a person have more than 46 pairs of chromosomes?
     Phyllis Frosst, Ph.D.: Investigating genetic discrimination, direct to consumer marketing of genetic tests and pharmacogenomics. Humans have 23 pairs of chromosomes, resulting in 46 total. We can have more than 46 total chromosomes, but generally this situation caus, for example, have inherited a third copy of chromosome 21.
Palms Middle School in CA (7th grade student)
977
Carla Easter said that nerve cells never replicate, but my one friend had his finger cut off and then surgicaly placed back on and now he still has feeling in his finger. How can that be if the nerves don't replicate?
     Carla Easter, Ph.D.: Creates and implements genetic education programs. Works with the branch to create science education products for high school students. Actually, there is a difference between reconnecting nerves and regenerating them.
Souderton Area High School in PA (10th grade student)
978
Is it possible to make such invention such as an artificial mitchoondria?
     Belen Hurle, Ph.D.: Generating data for use in developing and refining computational tools for comparing genomic sequence from multiple vertebrate species. Genetics entrepreneur Craig Venter claims his team is on the verge of creating the first artificial lifeform.Venter said his company has completed an artificial chromosome that will carry all necessary genes for a viable bacterium.He has already applied for a patent for this first, dubbed Mycoplasma laboratorium.
Arleta High School in CA (10th grade student)
979
If you could do ANYTHING with DNA what would you do and why?
     Elliott Margulies, Ph.D.: Uses new genomic sequencing technologies to decipher how our genome encodes functional sequences. DNA is such a beautiful molecule -- I think it would be cool to try and make some jewelry and give it to my wife!
Elko High School in NV (12th grade student)
980
Where did the Human Genome Project take place?
     Sarah Harding M.P.H.: Creates and implements community engagement programs focusing on genetics. The Human Genome Project was carried out in nations across the world. Genomic research continues to be an international effort.
Palms Middle School in CA (7th grade student)
981
What is the smallest organism, that you know, that has DNA close to ours?
     Arjun Prasad, B.S.: Comparing genome sequences of different animals to understand how they are related and how genomes evolve. It depends on what you mean by "close". We share most of our genes with fruit flys and they're pretty small :-) At a protein coding level we are 99.5% similar to chimpanzees which are a bit smaller than we are. As scientists trying to understand how the human genome works we often study model organisms such as yeast (the microscopic stuff that makes bread rise) and nematodes (very small round worms) that are much smaller than us because they're very similar to us in many important ways.
Bednarcik Junior High School in IL (8th grade student)
982
Do the non-coding regions in DNA peform any functions?
     Elliott Margulies, Ph.D.: Uses new genomic sequencing technologies to decipher how our genome encodes functional sequences. Absolutely! And we're still trying to figure out what all that non-coding DNA is doing. It turns out that 98% of our DNA is non-coding, and it plays an important role in turning genes on and off in the right place and time.
Kannapolis Middle School in NC (8th grade student)
983
Can DNA be used for other purposes besides finding identities or cloning?
     Phyllis Frosst, Ph.D.: Investigating genetic discrimination, direct to consumer marketing of genetic tests and pharmacogenomics. Yes. Recombinant DNA technology is used to produce many of the proteins that we use as therapeutic agents, for example insulin.
Westview High School in CA (9th grade student)
984
I have a mentally retarded uncle, and my great-grandparents on that side were first cousins. Is there a hereditary risk of mental retardation for my (hypothetical) children or my sister's children? Thanks so much!
     Flavia Facio, M.S., C.G.C.: Interested in learning the contribution of genetics to common diseases, such as heart disease and cancer. It is difficult to say if your uncle's mental retardation or developmental delay is related to the fact that your great-grandparents were first cousins. Mental retardation can be caused by many different conditions. Even when it is caused by a genetic condition, it is not always due to a recessive condition (which is the type of condition one would be concerned in individuals who are more closely related, such as first cousins). I think the best thing you and your sister can do is to be aware of this history and to consult with a genetic counselor when you each one of you are ready to have children.
E in IL ()
985
Can scientists surgically change a person's DNA?
     Greg Feero, M.D., Ph.D.: I work to help make emerging genetic technologies more accessible to health professionals. No, if by surgically you mean that the scientists can cut out a bit of a persons DNA while it is the body, and replace it with another bit of DNA. However, in gene therapy trials scientists and doctors have been able to use special "medicines" called gene therapy vectors to add a new piece of DNA to a person's cells in order to help those cells make a protein that the cells could not make before. It turns out that this is a very difficult way to make people well and that gene therapy approaches have seen only limited success to date. See more about gene therapy at www.genome.gov by searching the term.
Holy Family Catholic High School in MN (9th grade student)
986
Is it possible to seperate genes for certain characteristics from DNA, such as blue eyes, and combine them together with other genes to make a "customized" baby?
     Elliott Margulies, Ph.D.: Uses new genomic sequencing technologies to decipher how our genome encodes functional sequences. That is not possible, nor would we ever want to "customize" a baby based on eye color.
Arleta High School in CA (11th grade student)
987
Is philosophy useful to furthering scientific development?
     Sarah Harding M.P.H.: Creates and implements community engagement programs focusing on genetics. Philosophy is extremely important to scientific development. Philosophy, along with fields like history, law, sociology, anthropology, and others, make it possible to consider ethical and moral questions related to research, which is vital to moving forward responsibly.
Alpharetta High School in GA (9th grade student)
988
Does naked DNA with sticky ends seek kanamycin-resistant plasmids or does it prefer EcoR1 sites?
     Carla Easter, Ph.D.: Creates and implements genetic education programs. Works with the branch to create science education products for high school students. Sticky ends generated by restriction enzymes will look for and adhere to complementing sticky ends. It depends on the restriction enzyme used to digest the DNA.
Alpharetta High School in GA (9th grade student)
989
Do you have DNA in your eye?
     Phyllis Frosst, Ph.D.: Investigating genetic discrimination, direct to consumer marketing of genetic tests and pharmacogenomics. Yes. All human organs contain DNA. The eye, however, contains one of the rare cell types in the human body that does not contain DNA. Cells at the exterior of the lens frequently do not contain a nucleus (although some likely still have mitochondrial DNA).
Alpharetta High School in GA (9th grade student)
990
What is the most common genetic disease a baby can be born with?
     David Everman, M.D.: Assisting in clinical care and research for patients with several different genetic disorders that affect growth, development, and health. This is a great question, particularly because it depends where you are in the world and what you consider to be a genetic disease. The birth rates of certain genetic diseases/conditions are often different among specific populations around the world. Also, it is thought that many people are born with genetic differences that probably affect whether they develop common diseases later in life. As a group, birth defects (also called congenital malformations) could be thought of as a relatively common type of genetic problem, because they affect 1-3% of babies and are often related to genetic factors.
Lorena in CA (11th grade student)
991
Would there be any opportunities for high school students interested in DNA to work with geneticists as a summer project in NJ? How do we find out about these opportunities?
     Sarah Harding M.P.H.: Creates and implements community engagement programs focusing on genetics. For programs specific to New Jersey, I would encourage you to look at Universities and companies in the state; I don't know specifically. But for information on NIH's summer programs, see http://www.training.nih.gov/.
Maple Shade High School in NJ (10th grade teacher)
992
How close are we related to chimpanzees?
     Carla Easter, Ph.D.: Creates and implements genetic education programs. Works with the branch to create science education products for high school students. Humans and chimpanzees are greater than 95% identical, genetically.
Arleta High School in CA (10th grade student)
993
What is the most common type of cell in the human body?
     Phyllis Frosst, Ph.D.: Investigating genetic discrimination, direct to consumer marketing of genetic tests and pharmacogenomics. The cells that make up connective tissue.
Holy Family Catholic High School in MN (9th grade student)
994
Is being a scientist fun to do? if not why? does it pay well?
     Elliott Margulies, Ph.D.: Uses new genomic sequencing technologies to decipher how our genome encodes functional sequences. Not only is it fun, but it's way cool too! When I come to work, I get to "play" with fancy new equipment, analyze data that nobody has ever looked at before, use powerful computers, and work with great people! What more could you ask for?
Kannapolis Middle School in NC (8th grade student)
995
In your opinion, could nanotechnology be used to affect the DNA Code?
     Phyllis Frosst, Ph.D.: Investigating genetic discrimination, direct to consumer marketing of genetic tests and pharmacogenomics. Probably, yes. It will likely be possible to develop nanotechnologies that can physically or chemically change the structure of DNA molecules. But remember that we already have molecular biology methods to do the same thing. It's only worth developing a nano method to change DNA if it will do a better job than methods we already have. Nano will probably also be used to deliver gene therapy -- to replace genes that have mistakes and cause diseases, with genes that have the correct sequence. If we can do this with nanoparticles we might avoid some of the problems that occur with current methods that use viruses as the delivery vehicle. (Credit to Dr. Jeff Schloss for this answer)
Prairie High School in WA (10th grade student)
996
Before the development of microscopes that were able to zoom up to the DNA, was there a guess or an estimation on what DNA might look like?
     Carla Easter, Ph.D.: Creates and implements genetic education programs. Works with the branch to create science education products for high school students. DNA was first isolated in 1869 by Friedrich Miescher. Watson and Crick used the x-ray diffraction images of Rosiland Franklin to elucidate the shape of DNA in the 1950s.
Westview High School in CA (9th grade student)
997
Would majoring in something like biomedical science be helpful when pursuing a career in biotech?
     Sarah Harding M.P.H.: Creates and implements community engagement programs focusing on genetics. Certainly; it's important to take the classes related to the career you want to pursue. But I definitely recommend students to take a broad range of classes, especially during their undergraduate education.
John C. Fremont High School in CA (10th grade )
998
Will politicians legalize cloning humans/animals?
     Vence Bonham, J.D.: The ethical, legal, social and policy implications of genomic discoveries, particularly health professionals' and lay persons' understanding of race, ethnicity and genetics. The term cloning describes a number of different processes that can be used to produce genetically identical copies of a biological entity. The copied material, which has the same genetic makeup as the original is referred to as a clone. It is legal to clone animals. Therapeutic cloning is going on in some research laboratories. Cloning humans raises many ethical questions. More information is available on our Cloning fact sheet.
Kannapolis Middle School in NC (8th grade student)
999
If a mom has a mutated cell/DNA can she pass it to her offspring?
     Phyllis Frosst, Ph.D.: Investigating genetic discrimination, direct to consumer marketing of genetic tests and pharmacogenomics. Absolutely.
Souderton Area High School in PA (10th grade student)
1000
From where did you get the idea of talking to school kids about DNA?
     Sarah Harding M.P.H.: Creates and implements community engagement programs focusing on genetics. We love working with students and talking about the latest advances in genomics! It is important that students get excited about genomic research now, both as a potential career, but also so that as adults they can understand how genomic technology might affect their health in the future.
NAG ABABU CBIT, RAJAHMUNDRY,INDIA (6th grade student)
1001
Are chromosomal abnormalities common in newborns?
     Greg Feero, M.D., Ph.D.: I work to help make emerging genetic technologies more accessible to health professionals. Chromosomal abnormalities are fairly common in newborns, and birth defects are a leading reason why newborns die in countries where there is a highly developed health care system. One of the more common chromosomal abnormalities that occurs is trisomy 21 or Downs syndrome. In this condition the newborn inherits 3 rather than 2 copies of chromosome 21. These individuals have similar physical characteristics, lower than average intelligence on average, and are susceptible to certain cancers. For more on chromosomal abnormalities, see the March of Dimes website.
John C. Fremont High School in CA (10th grade student)
1002
Can parents choose the sex of their children?
     Don Hadley, M.S., C.G.C.: Researching the components of a genetic counseling session, including how people are informed of genetic disorders and how they make decisions regarding genetic testing. There are ways that have been suggested to increase the chances of having a boy or girl, however, they are NOT fully reliable. This is an issue that raises many ethical and social issues of concern. Should we, as a society, be picking our children's characteristics and traits? There's no easy answer to this and it will require a lot of careful consideration.
John C. Fremont High School in CA (10th grade student)
1003
How far along are scientists in identifying all of the genes within the sequence?
     Elliott Margulies, Ph.D.: Uses new genomic sequencing technologies to decipher how our genome encodes functional sequences. You would think that's a simple answer, but it all depends on how you define a gene. In fact, several years ago scientists organized a contest to "guess" how many genes are in the human genome. See http://sciencenow.sciencemag.org/cgi/content/full/2003/603/3 for the results. We used to think there were 100,000 genes, now we think it's closer to 20,000.
Westview High School in CA (9th grade student)
1006
Why do people have red hair?
     Arjun Prasad, B.S.: Comparing genome sequences of different animals to understand how they are related and how genomes evolve. The genetics of hair color in humans is not very well understood, but a lot of work has been done in the hair color of horses because breeders have been very interested in breeding certain hair colors of horses. Horse hair color is controlled by a large number of genes, only some of which have been worked out. Some of the genes that control horse coat color are genes that code for the actual colored proteins behind horse coat color, and some of them are differences in when/where those genes are turned on or off to make white legs, or spots for example.
Holy Family Catholic High School in MN (9th grade student)
1007
How can some people smoke their whole life and not get cancer?
     Belen Hurle, Ph.D.: Generating data for use in developing and refining computational tools for comparing genomic sequence from multiple vertebrate species. I personally know a woman who drinks and smokes, is 100 years old and perfectly healthy. Her grandparents, parents and siblings all died in their late 80' and early 90'. Obviously there is some kind of super-healthy genetic background in this family. This is very intriguing. As the matter of fact, genetic profiling of the unusually healthy is becoming the topic of research of some investigators in recent times.
Souderton Area High School in PA (10th grade student)
1008
Is the dna sequence in say for example liver cells different than those of the skin cells due to the different functions needed from those cells?
     Phyllis Frosst, Ph.D.: Investigating genetic discrimination, direct to consumer marketing of genetic tests and pharmacogenomics. All the cells in your body (with a few rare exceptions) contain the same DNA, a whole genome. What makes a liver cell function differently from a skin cell, is the regulation of the expression of genes (DNA) in each cell.
Alpharetta High School in GA (9th grade student)
1009
How is metabolism genetically influenced?
     Carla Easter, Ph.D.: Creates and implements genetic education programs. Works with the branch to create science education products for high school students. There are several genes that are involved in metabolism. They encode proteins that can regulate metabolism. There are metabolic enzymes, encoded by the genes, that have variants in the populations. Some people can carry mutations that cause an enzyme to be nonfunctioning and cause the person to have metabolic problems.
Parker High School in WI (11th grade student)
1010
Is it possible for a mutation caused by the environment to become a part of your DNA and be able to be passed down?
     Greg Feero, M.D., Ph.D.: I work to help make emerging genetic technologies more accessible to health professionals. Yes. In fact this how evolution occurs. Recall that not all mutations - which really only means a change in the DNA sequence- are bad. Some mutations might actually improve how a gene and its gene product function.
Souderton Area High School in PA (10th grade student)
1011
What happens if DNA is too mutated to function?
     Phyllis Frosst, Ph.D.: Investigating genetic discrimination, direct to consumer marketing of genetic tests and pharmacogenomics. In a single cell, that cell dies.
Souderton Area High School in PA (10th grade student)
1012
Are viruses really alive?
     Carla Easter, Ph.D.: Creates and implements genetic education programs. Works with the branch to create science education products for high school students. It all depends on your definition of alive. Viruses require a host in order propagate and so one could argue whether they are living or not.
Alpharetta High School in GA (11th grade student)
1013
How is DNA being used in the field of evolutionary biology?
     Elliott Margulies, Ph.D.: Uses new genomic sequencing technologies to decipher how our genome encodes functional sequences. Since DNA is found in every living organism, we can compare DNA from different species to see which bits are similar and which bits are different. When sequences remain similar throughout millions of years of evolution, we can deduce that the sequence is likely functional. In fact, "comparative genomics" is a major way we can determine the functions encoded genomic sequences.
Booth Middle School in GA (7th grade teacher)
1014
Are identical twins genetically identical?
     Phyllis Frosst, Ph.D.: Investigating genetic discrimination, direct to consumer marketing of genetic tests and pharmacogenomics. Identical twins share the same DNA sequence but can have differences in epigenetics, slight chemical modifications of the bases. This is part of what constitutes differences between identical twins.
John C. Fremont High School in CA (10th grade student)
1015
Which human genes in the human genome carry the most health problems? Can they be remediated? Would that be ethical?
     Sarah Knerr, B.A.: I am a post-baccalaureate fellow in a lab whose research addresses the intersection of human genetic variation, constructs of race and ethnicity, and health disparities. My current projects explore the roles of race, ethnicity and ancestry in how physicians make decisions about preconception genetic testing and how genetic researchers describe populations in studies of human genetic variation. Most diseases are caused by multiple genes--most of which we don't even know! Mutations in genes can sometimes cause disease and sometime prevent it. When people find out that they have specific mutations known to cause disease they can talk to a doctor and take precautions like eating a healthy diet and exercising. People who know that they have mutations that put them at an increased risk of having a child with a disease have more difficult ethical decision that depend on their personal beliefs.
Pauling academy of integrated sciences in OR (teacher)
1016
What is cytokenisis?
     Phyllis Frosst, Ph.D.: Investigating genetic discrimination, direct to consumer marketing of genetic tests and pharmacogenomics. Cytokinesis is the process whereby the cytoplasm of a single cell is divided to spawn two daughter cells. It usually initiates during the late stages of mitosis, and sometimes meiosis, splitting a binucleate cell in two, to ensure that chromosome number is maintained from one generation to the next.
John C. Fremont High School in CA (9th grade student)
1017
What hours do you work and how much do you get paid?
     Arjun Prasad, B.S.: Comparing genome sequences of different animals to understand how they are related and how genomes evolve. I am a graduate student working on a PhD in Genetics right now. I work 45-55 hours a week, and most grad students make 20-35 thousand dollars a year while in grad school. Grad students can work significantly more than I do, and a few work significantly less. One of my classmates and friends had a baby while in graduate school, and she works very efficiently only 30 or so hours a week.
Maple Shade High School in NJ (10th grade student)
1018
Would you have to know a lot about DNA to be a pediatrician?
     David Everman, M.D.: Assisting in clinical care and research for patients with several different genetic disorders that affect growth, development, and health. This is a great question for me, because I first trained as a pediatrician and then decided to become a clinical geneticist! Having a good understanding of genetics has become increasingly important in all fields of medicine. This is certainly true in pediatrics, because there are many genetic conditions that can have an impact on the health of children. So, it is important for pediatricians to know about DNA as it relates to the health of children.
Oak Hill Elementary in KS (5th grade student)
1019
Aside from the academic spectrum, what types of careers are available for students interested in genetics and molecular biology? Could you offer any advice to someone just starting out upon that path?
     Sarah Harding M.P.H.: Creates and implements community engagement programs focusing on genetics. There are lots of potential career areas related to genetics and molecular biology. Everything from public health, law, sociology, ethics, writing, art, and many others are relevant. It's important for students to study what they are interested in, and to explore how those different interests might relate to genetic science.
Florida Institute of Technology in FL (Higher Education student)
1020
Have you ever wanted to be anything else besides a scientist, if so what?
     Elliott Margulies, Ph.D.: Uses new genomic sequencing technologies to decipher how our genome encodes functional sequences. Before I went to college, I thought I wanted to be a dentist (can you believe that?!?). But when I was in college, I had an awesome teacher that taught me how to do research in a lab. From that day on, I was hooked. I still remember my very first experiment with DNA!
Maple Shade High School in NJ (10th grade student)
1021
Can you make DNA glow in the dark?
     Phyllis Frosst, Ph.D.: Investigating genetic discrimination, direct to consumer marketing of genetic tests and pharmacogenomics. DNA can be modified so that is attached to a fluorescent molecule such as Green Fluorescent Protein (GFP) or a fluorescent small molecule. This technology underlies many DNA sequencing methods.
Westview High School in CA (9th grade student)
1022
What does the DNA strand of a Giraffe look like?
     Carla Easter, Ph.D.: Creates and implements genetic education programs. Works with the branch to create science education products for high school students. Physically, the DNA strand of a giraffe looks just like the DNA of any other organism. In order to assess the differences between a giraffe's DNA and another organism's DNA, one would have to sequence the DNA and use other molecular techniques.
Holy Family Catholic High School in MN (9th grade student)
1023
Is is fun doing what you do? Would I like it?
     Elliott Margulies, Ph.D.: Uses new genomic sequencing technologies to decipher how our genome encodes functional sequences. Absolutely -- if you like playing with new toys and doing things nobody has ever done before, then this is the field for you!
Kittanning Senior High School in PA (10th grade student)
1024
How many different countries worked on the human genome project?
     Phyllis Frosst, Ph.D.: Investigating genetic discrimination, direct to consumer marketing of genetic tests and pharmacogenomics. From its inception, the HGP has been an international effort. The United States has made the largest investment, but important contributions have come from many countries, including Britain, France, Germany, Japan, China, and Canada.
Kannapolis Middle School in NC (8th grade student)
1025
Can DNA help find a cure or solution to birth defects and deformities?
     Greg Feero, M.D., Ph.D.: I work to help make emerging genetic technologies more accessible to health professionals. Yes, some birth defects result from changes in DNA, and the more that is understood about how those changes occur, the more likely it is that scientists will be able to find a way to prevent them from happening. Some birth defects result for environmental factors that don't change DNA, but at least in some cases understanding how those factors affect the way baby's DNA works will be important as well.
Maple Shade High School in NJ (10th grade student)
1026
How is DNA packaged?
     Elliott Margulies, Ph.D.: Uses new genomic sequencing technologies to decipher how our genome encodes functional sequences. very neatly :) Seriously, this is a great question. DNA is packaged at several different levels, and each level compresses the DNA even further so that it all can fit into a tiny cell.
Holy Family Catholic High School in MN (9th grade student)
1027
When we eat something with chromosomes, do we destroy them or absorb them?
     Phyllis Frosst, Ph.D.: Investigating genetic discrimination, direct to consumer marketing of genetic tests and pharmacogenomics. DNA is broken down by our digestive system, so no chromosome absorption.
Westview High School in CA (9th grade student)
1028
Is the yellow skin color and four fingers in the Simpsons caused by genetic mutations due to the nuclear power plant?
     Phyllis Frosst, Ph.D.: Investigating genetic discrimination, direct to consumer marketing of genetic tests and pharmacogenomics. The Springfield Isotopes have faced teams from Shelbyville, Salem, and Burlington and all players had yellow skin and four fingers, so the mutations are likely not caused by the nuclear power plant.
Alpharetta High School in GA (9th grade student)
1029
Is there a certain disease for each chromosome number?
     Phyllis Frosst, Ph.D.: Investigating genetic discrimination, direct to consumer marketing of genetic tests and pharmacogenomics. There are multiple disease-causing genes on all human chromosomes.
Westview High School in CA (10th grade student)
1030
Can cervical cancer run in your family?
     Carla Easter, Ph.D.: Creates and implements genetic education programs. Works with the branch to create science education products for high school students. To date, cervical cancer is not thought to have strong genetic components.
John C. Fremont High School in CA (10th grade student)
1031
What are major hurdles scientists are still faced with that they still have to overcome?
     Arjun Prasad, B.S.: Comparing genome sequences of different animals to understand how they are related and how genomes evolve. One fun thing about being a scientist is that the more we discover the more we realize all that we don't know. We have completed the sequencing of the human genome, but we are now trying to understand what it all means. A big hurdle now is to understand the genetic differences between people that are responsible for inheritable differences in disease susceptibility. We know that some people can smoke their whole lives and never get lung cancer, why is that? The hope is that by figuring out the genes that increase risks for disease we can also figure out how to prevent them from getting the disease in the first place and treat those diseases more effectively.
Westview High School in CA (9th grade student)
1032
Do you believe in those personalized genealogical tests - where you take a swab inside your cheek and send it to some lab to analyze your DNA - are accurate in telling you where your ancestors came from?
     Vence Bonham, J.D.: The ethical, legal, social and policy implications of genomic discoveries, particularly health professionals' and lay persons' understanding of race, ethnicity and genetics. Genetic ancestry testing often described as recreational genetics provides some information about your ancestral background. It however, does not necessarily tell you were all of your ancestors are from. My recommendation is buyer beware.
Bowie State University in MD (Higher Education student)
1033
What proportion of the human genome is thought not to have a function (truly "junk" DNA)?
     Elliott Margulies, Ph.D.: Uses new genomic sequencing technologies to decipher how our genome encodes functional sequences. A long time ago, some people thought that all DNA that didn't code for genes was "junk". We now know that non-coding DNA plays a very important role in regulating how genes are turned on and off. We're still trying to figure out what all this non-coding DNA does, and my bet is that little to none is "junk" (though admittedly that gives me job security since my lab studies non-coding DNA!)
Montgomery College in MD (Higher Education student)
1034
Is it true that DNA can be used as a miniature computer? If so, would it be possible for these computers to attain intelligence, and eventually think on their own? It would be pretty scary if those DNA robots then tried to take over our bodies!
     Elliott Margulies, Ph.D.: Uses new genomic sequencing technologies to decipher how our genome encodes functional sequences. There are things called "genetic algorithms", which can help us solve very complex problems. But the DNA itself doesn't act as a mini computer. So, I don't think you need to worry about your body being taken over by a DNA robot.
Richard W. Aiverz in NJ (10th grade )
1035
Which is your favorite stage of mitosis? Mine is Anaphase.
     Carla Easter, Ph.D.: Creates and implements genetic education programs. Works with the branch to create science education products for high school students. My favorite stage is Metaphase. I love the way the chromosomes come together and meet in the middle. It reminds me of line dancing. It is quite visual.
Charles DuMarr in NY (11th grade student)
1036
Do you consider science as the ultimate search for truth? Or are there things that even science cannot even try to answer?
     Phyllis Frosst, Ph.D.: Investigating genetic discrimination, direct to consumer marketing of genetic tests and pharmacogenomics. I can only answer for myself. What's enjoyable about science is that it is a quest for knowledge about ourselves and the world around us. Even science, though, cannot answer some of the most meaningful questions about ourselves and our society. Will there be an end to war? Will we learn to greatly lessen our impact on our planet? Can we become the person that we want to be?
Alpharetta High School in GA (9th grade student)
1038
Why is DNA so small but carries so much information?
     Arjun Prasad, B.S.: Comparing genome sequences of different animals to understand how they are related and how genomes evolve. Our DNA has to carry a lot of information, so the fact that it's small is probably a good thing for us. We aren't sure exactly how DNA came to be the carrier of genetic information, but we do know that early living cells were very small and would need their genetic information to be contained very compactly.
Westview High School in CA (9th grade student)
1039
Which genetic diseases are increasing in frequency in humans (in the past few generations)?
     Greg Feero, M.D., Ph.D.: I work to help make emerging genetic technologies more accessible to health professionals. In the United States diseases like diabetes and heart disease are increasing in the population. These diseases result for interactions between environmental factors and a large number of genetic factors. The interesting question is why. It seems less likely that the genetic factors are becoming more common and much more likely that those disorders are becoming more common because the environmental factors (like lack of exercise and poor diet) are becoming more common.
Francis Howell North in MO (11th grade student)
1040
We've been looking at prions as infectious proteins. Do they reproduce by causing the cell to make the DNA that coded for them originally ?
     Phyllis Frosst, Ph.D.: Investigating genetic discrimination, direct to consumer marketing of genetic tests and pharmacogenomics. Unlike other agents that cause disease, like a virus, prions contain none of the genetic information necessary to spread themselves through its victim. Instead, prions corrupt a perfectly normal protein, PrP, which usually sits on the external surface of brain cells
LaSalle Academy in RI (9th grade student)
1041
Is it possible to lose DNA?
     Phyllis Frosst, Ph.D.: Investigating genetic discrimination, direct to consumer marketing of genetic tests and pharmacogenomics. From one generation to another, disease conditions can arise from the deletion of pieces of DNA.
Westview High School in CA (9th grade student)
1042
Who do you think is the biggest contributer to DNA research?
     Phyllis Frosst, Ph.D.: Investigating genetic discrimination, direct to consumer marketing of genetic tests and pharmacogenomics. Good question, probably the National Institutes of health.
Westview High School in CA (9th grade student)
1043
If it is true that life is sustained through the passing on of genetic material, how did the original DNA form?
     Elliott Margulies, Ph.D.: Uses new genomic sequencing technologies to decipher how our genome encodes functional sequences. that's a very philosophical question! It's similar to the chicken/egg conundrum. Some scientists hypothesize that the earliest organisms started out as RNA and proteins, which eventually made their own DNA.
Scarlet Oaks in OH (12th grade student)
1044
Looking for a career opening in biology, would bioinformatics be a good area to major in ?
     Phyllis Frosst, Ph.D.: Investigating genetic discrimination, direct to consumer marketing of genetic tests and pharmacogenomics. Absolutely. There is more genomic information right now than we're able to analyze or understand right now.
LaSalle Academy in RI (9th grade student)
1045
This is a question for Carla Easter, Ph. D: Do identical twins have the same DNA or do is the DNA completely different for both of them?
     Carla Easter, Ph.D.: Creates and implements genetic education programs. Works with the branch to create science education products for high school students. For the most part, the DNA of identical twins is the same. Although, our genomes are constantly changing and various modifications are being made (epigenetics). Not to mention, that and individuals DNA is acquiring somatic mutations throughout their lives. In summary, the DNA of identical twins is pretty similar, but their are differences.
East Forest High School in PA (8th grade student)
1046
can a genetic mutation affect the outcome of identification in DNA fingerprinting?
     Elliott Margulies, Ph.D.: Uses new genomic sequencing technologies to decipher how our genome encodes functional sequences. In theory, yes. But not to worry, because when we do a DNA fingerprint, we look at many regions of the genome at once. If one of these places is mutated, we'll still make an accurate call.
West Seneca East Senior High School in NY (10th grade student)
1047
Would glow in the dark Cristmas tree be possible? If it is how would you go about doing this?
     Phyllis Frosst, Ph.D.: Investigating genetic discrimination, direct to consumer marketing of genetic tests and pharmacogenomics. One would probably start with a Fir, Pine or Spruce embryo and clone in the gene for Green Fluorescent Protein (GFP). You'd have to use a UV (black) light to see it fluoresce though.
Scarlet Oaks in OH (11th grade student)
1048
Are there more chromosomal abnormalities associated with the X chromosome or the Y chromosome?
     Greg Feero, M.D., Ph.D.: I work to help make emerging genetic technologies more accessible to health professionals. There are many more diseases associated with changes in the genetic material on the X chromosome than on the Y chromosome. This is at least in part because there are many more genes on the X chromosome. The question about chromosomal abnormalities is much harder to answer. There are a variety of disorders like Turners syndrome XO, in which too few, or too many of the sex chromosomes are inherited. I am unsure if there are large differences in cases of disorders where too many or too few X versus Y chromosomes are inherited.
University of Illinois at Springfield in IL (Higher Education student)
1049
Do you like the Simpsons? They got a glowing monkey how is this achieved?
     Phyllis Frosst, Ph.D.: Investigating genetic discrimination, direct to consumer marketing of genetic tests and pharmacogenomics. Yes. The gene-altered monkey, born in Oregon and described in the journal Science, is endowed with a jellyfish gene Green Fuorescent Protein (GFP). To engineer the monkey, Scientists inserted copies of the gene into specialized viruses and injected those viruses into hundreds of unfertilized monkey eggs. ANDi, a backward abbreviation for ``inserted DNA' was the result.
Scarlet Oaks in OH (11th grade student)
1050
How is your DNA formed?
     Phyllis Frosst, Ph.D.: Investigating genetic discrimination, direct to consumer marketing of genetic tests and pharmacogenomics. Your DNA comes from your parents, and then is replicated millions of times to create you.
Mount Pleasant High School in NC (9th grade student)
1051
How exactly does gel electrophoresis separates the different lengths of DNA segments?
     Phyllis Frosst, Ph.D.: Investigating genetic discrimination, direct to consumer marketing of genetic tests and pharmacogenomics. The DNA has a charge to it, and will move in an electrical field. The smaller pieces move through the gel matrix faster, so the pieces become spread out.
Bergen County Academies in NJ (9th grade student)
1052
Although we can all think of the positive effects of the Genetic Nondiscrimination bill, recently passed by the Senate, can you think of a downside?
     Phyllis Frosst, Ph.D.: Investigating genetic discrimination, direct to consumer marketing of genetic tests and pharmacogenomics. Only that we've all had to wait so long to see it finally pass both chambers.
St. Bernard Catholic High School in CA (10th grade student)
1053
How did scientists come to the conclusion that cancer was caused by cell mutations?
     Carla Easter, Ph.D.: Creates and implements genetic education programs. Works with the branch to create science education products for high school students. Scientists looked at cancer cells and noticed that there were genetic differences between cancer cells and normal cells--they found that there were often times different numbers of chromosomes. Also, scientists have been able to sequence the DNA of tumor cells and discover the specific mutations that exist.
Souderton Area High School in PA (10th grade student)
1054
Have you discovered the genes involved in depression or bipolar disorder?Once the genes are identified, how difficult is it to come up with drugs that over come the genetic deficiency?
     Greg Feero, M.D., Ph.D.: I work to help make emerging genetic technologies more accessible to health professionals. In the last year there have been a large number of studies relating gene discoveries relevant to mental health conditions. These have come about because of a new approach to gene discovery called "genome-wide association studies". Each of these new markers provides potential new approaches to develop therapies. Discovery of new drugs is usually a long and challenging process, but with new genes in hand many scientists are excited that new therapies will come in the next few decades. For more on genome-wide association studies see the catalog of genome wide association studies on www.genome.gov
Susan in MD ()
1055
Will it be possible in the future to switch on and off genes to help people?
     Phyllis Frosst, Ph.D.: Investigating genetic discrimination, direct to consumer marketing of genetic tests and pharmacogenomics. Lots of research is being done to understand how genes are regulated. It's likely that this knowledge will be used to develop therapeutics for many diseases.
Lugoff-Elgin High School in SC (10th grade student)
1056
Do chimpanzees have DNA similar to humans?
     Carla Easter, Ph.D.: Creates and implements genetic education programs. Works with the branch to create science education products for high school students. Humans and chimpanzees are about 95% genetically identical.
Dennis in CA (10th grade student)
1057
how many genes are there in each of our cells?
     Phyllis Frosst, Ph.D.: Investigating genetic discrimination, direct to consumer marketing of genetic tests and pharmacogenomics. Each of our cells contains about 20,000 genes.
Palms Middle School in CA (7th grade student)
1058
How many cells do I have in my body
     Carla Easter, Ph.D.: Creates and implements genetic education programs. Works with the branch to create science education products for high school students. Estimates place the numbers of cells in the human body at between 10 and 100 trillion cells.
Kannapolis Middle School in NC (8th grade student)
1059
Why is it that DNA performs a crossover during the meiosis process?
     Phyllis Frosst, Ph.D.: Investigating genetic discrimination, direct to consumer marketing of genetic tests and pharmacogenomics. DNA crosses over during mitosis, largely to create the genetic changes that fuel evolution.
John C. Fremont High School in CA (9th grade student)
1060
Do our diets affect our DNA?
     Greg Feero, M.D., Ph.D.: I work to help make emerging genetic technologies more accessible to health professionals. Yes, both directly (by causing mutations in DNA in for example the cells lining our intestines) and indirectly by triggering our cells to turn off and on expression of genes. Interestingly enough a wide variety of food contain chemicals that can change your DNA, including celery!!
Alpharetta High School in GA (9th grade student)
1061
I noticed there are alot of women in this chatroom. Did you ever have to deal with prejudice (stereotypes) against women?
     Sarah Harding M.P.H.: Creates and implements community engagement programs focusing on genetics. You're right, there have been many women in the chatroom today. There have been many advances in getting more women involved in science, and we hope this trend continues!
Alpharetta High School in GA (9th grade student)
1062
Have you always wanted to be a scientist?
     Phyllis Frosst, Ph.D.: Investigating genetic discrimination, direct to consumer marketing of genetic tests and pharmacogenomics. When I was younger I wanted to be a veterinarian, but a few days working in a vet clinic changed my mind. Actually, once I became a scientist, I decided that I wanted to work in policy too, so now I'm a scientist who does policy work.
Holy Family Catholic High School in MN (9th grade student)
1063
Can a paternity test be performed before the baby is born? If so, how?
     Phyllis Frosst, Ph.D.: Investigating genetic discrimination, direct to consumer marketing of genetic tests and pharmacogenomics. Technically this is possible, but would be very invasive and ethically challenging. It is doubtful that any clinician would do a procedure; waiting until the baby is born is the best choice.
Westview High School in CA (9th grade student)
1064
So DNA is like a computer program?
     Carla Easter, Ph.D.: Creates and implements genetic education programs. Works with the branch to create science education products for high school students. That is an excellent way to think about it. Your DNA is controlling the activities of your cells and in some cases, the program is being re-written causing changes in functions just like computer programs control the functions of a computer.
Palms Middle School in CA (7th grade student)
1065
How long can DNA sample sruvive and be identified as an organism?
     Phyllis Frosst, Ph.D.: Investigating genetic discrimination, direct to consumer marketing of genetic tests and pharmacogenomics. Millions of years - we can analyze DNA from dinosaur fossils!
Waterville High School in WA (11th grade student)
1066
So I guess you guys get paid a lot, huh?
     Phyllis Frosst, Ph.D.: Investigating genetic discrimination, direct to consumer marketing of genetic tests and pharmacogenomics. It's all relative. I'll probably never own a Rolls Royce, but I probably won't go hungry either.
Waterville High School in WA (11th grade student)
1067
Why are some down syndrome children higher functioning than others?
     Greg Feero, M.D., Ph.D.: I work to help make emerging genetic technologies more accessible to health professionals. There is a fair amount of variation in the function of Down syndrome patients, and there are probably a variety of reasons for this. It seems likely that this is in part because factors outside of chromosome 21 affect intelligence and that not all these factors are adversely affected by by having an extra copy of chromosome 21.
Holy Family Catholic High School in MN (9th grade student)
1068
During transcription, why does RNA polymerase continue transcribing for hundreds of nucleotides after the site where pre-RNA was released?
     Phyllis Frosst, Ph.D.: Investigating genetic discrimination, direct to consumer marketing of genetic tests and pharmacogenomics. Probably due to regulatory or targeting regions that are encoded into the mRNA, but are not translated into protein.
Carvin School Inc. Puerto Rico (12th grade student)
1069
How difficult is it to turn on or turn off a persons genes once they are already an adult? (MS)
     Greg Feero, M.D., Ph.D.: I work to help make emerging genetic technologies more accessible to health professionals. It is not, your genes turn on and off many times a day in each of your cells. Many factors affect this including your diet, your physical activity and and the medications you might take....
Rock Canyon High School in CO (11th grade student)
1070
Is there a genetic disorder that only one parent is able to pass the trait for at a time?
     Carla Easter, Ph.D.: Creates and implements genetic education programs. Works with the branch to create science education products for high school students. If I understand the question, you are asking about sex-linked traits. Fathers will pass X-linked traits to their daughters and Y-linked traits to their sons. Mothers will pass X-linked traits to their sons and daughters.
Flint Northern Academy in MI (10th grade student)
1071
Kannapolis Middle School in NC (8th grade student)


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Posted: April 25, 2008