2011 National DNA Day Online Chatroom Transcript

National Human Genome Research Institute

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


2011 National DNA Day Online Chatroom Transcript

The 2011 National DNA Day Moderated Chat was held on Friday, April 15th, 2011 from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Eastern. NHGRI Director Eric Green, M.D., Ph.D. and genomics experts from across the institute and around the nation took questions from students, teachers and the general public on topics ranging from basic genomic research, to the genetic basis of disease, to ethical questions about genetic privacy.


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411
Is cancer gentic?
     Dan Kastner, M.D., Ph.D: Joining the chat is Dr. Dan Kastner. He is a physician and a researcher who became the scientific director of the National Human Genome Research Institute this past summer. He began his career at NIH in 1985, where he has studied the genetics, pathophysiology, and treatment of inherited disorders of inflammation. He discovered disease genes that have led to life changing treatments for patients. Genetics plays a very important role in cancer. In some cases, there are genes that run in families that increase the risk of developing one or more kinds of cancer. In other cases, mutations may arise because of radiation, exposure to certain kinds of chemicals, or errors in DNA replication as cells divide in the body, leading to the development of cancer in the cells derived from the cell with the mutation. In some cases, it takes a combination of an inherited mutation and a somatic mutation (mutation in the cells dividing in the body) in order to develop cancer.
Campbell High School in NH (10th grade student)
412
What is the average lifespan of a genetically engineered organism compared to an normal organism?
     Amber Trivedi, M.S.: I am a cancer and reproductive genetic counselor. In addition to providing clinical care, I lead InformedDNA's programs to educate other health care providers, clients, and the lay population about the significance of clinical genetics. That question is difficult to answer, as it depends on the specific organism. Recent news about genetically engineered mosquitoes that are resistant to malaria state the mosquitos have a 20% shorter lifespan than natural mosquitoes. However, some genetically engineered foods may last longer than natural foods.
Williamsburg Middle School in VA (7th grade student)
413
How were the nucleotide in DNA discovered?
     Arjun Prasad, Ph.D.: I am a post-doctoral Fellow working in bioinformatics at NHGRI. I'm very much interested in figuring out new ways to use new DNA sequencing technology and computers to learn about how genomes work, evolve, and influence human health. The nucleotides in DNA were first discovered in the 1800s, but understanding their structure and significance to heredity had to wait until the mid 1900s when experiments with bacteria and bacteriophages made it clear that the DNA was the hereditary material.
McDowell Intermediate High School in PA (10th grade student)
414
Is DNA polymerase the glue of the genetic world?
     Jeffrey Ohmen, Ph.D.: In my current position, I am responsible for the design, implementation and execution for all genetic studies at the House Ear Institute. The glue of the genetic world? interesting question. I wouldn't classify this protein that way. DNA polymerase is certainly one of the most important proteins in a cell, but not really the glue. It turns out that RNA is probably the most important molecule as it can act like DNA (have specific plans), but can also have enzymatic activity like a protein. So we know RNA is more ancient than DNA, and that DNA eventually evolved to make a more stable medium to transmit genetic information from generation to generation.
Academy of the Sacred Heart in MI (12th grade student)
415
Is there a genetic basis to sexual orientation?
     Flavia Facio, M.S.: I am a Certified Genetic Counselor who spent over three years working in the field of cancer genetics at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York City. ŭIn 2004, I came to the NHGRI where I have been working primarily on a study investigating the feasibility of providing large scale medical sequencing to adult individuals who are healthy volunteers for the most part. ŭI am also involved with training and teaching genetic counseling students, and an active member of the National Society of Genetic Counselors. ŭŭ Sexual orientation is a complex issue which is influenced by both genetics and environment. Research is ongoing to answer questions similar to yours. We do know of some conditions in genetics that do affect sexual orientation. In some of these cases children might look one gender on the outside but be a different gender genetically speaking. To read more about one of these conditions, go to Genetics Home Reference at http://ghr.nlm.nih.gov/condition/5-alpha-reductase-deficiency Thank you for your question!
University of California Los Angeles in CA (Higher Education student)
416
If you alter a persons DNA after they have fully developed, will their phenotypes alter?
     Amber Trivedi, M.S.: I am a cancer and reproductive genetic counselor. In addition to providing clinical care, I lead InformedDNA's programs to educate other health care providers, clients, and the lay population about the significance of clinical genetics. Yes. In fact you could say that our DNA is continuously being altered throughout our lifetime. We constantly acquire new mutations from our environment over time. Much of the time our body corrects it. But other times the mutations remain and can cause diseases such as cancer or diabetes.
Francis Howell North High School in MO (12th grade student)
417
Do you have to go to college to get a job in biotechnology?
     Arjun Prasad, Ph.D.: I am a post-doctoral Fellow working in bioinformatics at NHGRI. I'm very much interested in figuring out new ways to use new DNA sequencing technology and computers to learn about how genomes work, evolve, and influence human health. For the most part, yes, though there may be some exceptions. Most people who work in biotechnology have at least a bachelors degree, and many have masters and doctorates.
Westview High School in CA (9th grade student)
418
Go animals get AIDS?
     Jeffrey Ohmen, Ph.D.: In my current position, I am responsible for the design, implementation and execution for all genetic studies at the House Ear Institute. Great question. The exact answer is no. Human Immunodeficiency virus (HIV) is trophic (likes) only human cells. But a better answer is yes, other species do have specific immunodeficiency viruses. In fact, we know that the human form of the disease actually came from apes. Simian immunodeficiency virus.
Junaid Ahmed: UOMBAB (Higher Education )
419
Would it be possible someday to decide for a child which traits it got from its mother and which traits it got from its father?
     Belen Hurle, Ph.D.: The focus of my research is to study primate genomes as a means to enhance our understanding of human evolutionary biology. Did you know that certain genes (imprinted genes) are expressed in a parent-of-origin-specific manner? meaning that an imprinted gene is either expressed only from the allele inherited from the mother or in other instances from the allele inherited from the father. Another example is a dominant disease for which one copy of a mutated gene is enough and sufficient to develop a genomic disorder. Thus, the affected offspring would be able to track their mutated allele to their affected parent.
Peru High School in IN (12th grade student)
420
I hear a lot of controversy regarding stem-cell research because from what I have heard abortions are performed solely for this purpose. Is this true?
     Kris Wetterstrand, M.S.: I am the Scientific Liaison to the Director for Extramural Activities. For over ten years I have managed the National Human Genome Research Institute (NHGRI) grant portfolio, having participated in the Large-scale Sequencing Program, which managed the Human Genome Project, and the Human Microbiome Project, an effort to sequence the DNA of microbes (e.g. bacteria) that live in and on humans and the ENCODE Project, an effort to identify functional DNA elements in the human genome. Her background is in population genetics and molecular evolution. There is controversy over the use of embryonic stem cells, because as the name implies, the cells come from an embryo. However, it is not true that abortions are performed solely for that purpose. Also, keep in mind that there are other types of stem cells. Ones that don't come from embryos. However, they don't have all the same properties that embryonic stem cells have.
L V Hightower High School in TX (12th grade teacher)
421
How is DNA transfered from one organism to another in genetic engineering?
     Dan Kastner, M.D., Ph.D: Joining the chat is Dr. Dan Kastner. He is a physician and a researcher who became the scientific director of the National Human Genome Research Institute this past summer. He began his career at NIH in 1985, where he has studied the genetics, pathophysiology, and treatment of inherited disorders of inflammation. He discovered disease genes that have led to life changing treatments for patients. In genetic engineering, we sometimes use retroviral vectors to induce changes in germ cells of experimental animals. Retroviruses are RNA viruses that use reverse transcriptase (an enzyme) to transcribe a DNA strand. The retroviral sequence contains sequence that "targets" a particular gene or region of the genome, allowing the replacement of the targeted gene with the new version of the gene.
McCleskey Middle School in GA (7th grade student)
422
I once read an article about a German couple, the mother being African American and the father being Caucasian. They had twin babies, and one baby was exactly African American and the other baby was Caucasian! How is it possible they wouldn't be of both races and each just one race?
     Kelly Donahue, M.S.: I am a genetic counselor in the Maternal Fetal Medicine Department. I meet with women/couples that are planning to have children or who are already pregnant and have concerns that their baby may have a birth defect or genetic problem. I help them learn about genetics and testing options that can tell them more information about their babies. In genetic terms the children of such a couple would have genes that are common to both ancestries (African American and Caucasian) but... the expression of each gene will not be the same in every individual- not even twins. So.. from outward appearance the genes for features such as skin color may present differently.
Peru High School in IN (11th grade student)
423
Brownsville Area High School in PA (9th grade student)
424
L V Hightower High School in TX (12th grade teacher)
425
How do cells get new neucleotides?
     Belen Hurle, Ph.D.: The focus of my research is to study primate genomes as a means to enhance our understanding of human evolutionary biology. There are three sources of nucleotides: Dietary Manufactured from various amino acids Salvaged as they are liberated from cells
Westview High School in CA (11th grade student)
426
When we clone something will it always be cloned as a baby first or is it possible to be clone someone as an adult?
     Arjun Prasad, Ph.D.: I am a post-doctoral Fellow working in bioinformatics at NHGRI. I'm very much interested in figuring out new ways to use new DNA sequencing technology and computers to learn about how genomes work, evolve, and influence human health. Cloning many animals requires starting from a single cell, so they would have to start out as individual eggs and go through the process of development. Some species like the hydra can regenerate the rest of their bodies, so they can be cloned by just cutting them in half, without going through an immature, infant stage.
Westview High School in CA (12th grade student)
427
What is the pocess of gene therapy?
     Kelly Donahue, M.S.: I am a genetic counselor in the Maternal Fetal Medicine Department. I meet with women/couples that are planning to have children or who are already pregnant and have concerns that their baby may have a birth defect or genetic problem. I help them learn about genetics and testing options that can tell them more information about their babies. The process of gene therapy involves the administration/introduction of a "gene" into the body system of an individual who has a gene that is altered or not working. The gene can be administered via an infusion or other method such as a stem cell transplant.
Palms Middle School in CA (7th grade student)
428
How has the human genome changed in the past 10,000 years? what are some obvious mutations that have arose?
     Jeffrey Ohmen, Ph.D.: In my current position, I am responsible for the design, implementation and execution for all genetic studies at the House Ear Institute. Awesome question! Really, not a lot SHOULD have occured over 10,000 years, as that is only 500 generations, which isn't much time in the overall evolutionary history of humans (probably over 1 million years old). But there are several know changes in DNA over the 10,000 years that you mention. Most notably may be the aquisition of lactose tolerance in adults. We are meant to drink milk as a child, but then stop. Much of the worlds population suffers severe stomach and bowel problems when they drink milk as an adult, as the lactose (milk sugar) is not broken down by the body, and the bacteria in our intestines then ferment the sugar, making a lot of gas. but we know that about 10,000 years ago a group of Caucasians, from the Caucus mountains in Russia developed the ability to continue to produce lactase (enzyme to break down lactose). This of course was huge because now we could make cheese, which was good energy, stable and could be taken on huntiing trips or stored for winter. This mutation has obviously beeen selected for in Caucasians, but is quite rare in Asians and Africans.
Francis Howell Central High School in MO (11th grade student)
429
Magdelene Caldwell-Burke in MD (12th grade student)
430
Would it be possible to genetically alter someone's taste buds to make them enjoy only healthy foods?
     Dan Kastner, M.D., Ph.D: Joining the chat is Dr. Dan Kastner. He is a physician and a researcher who became the scientific director of the National Human Genome Research Institute this past summer. He began his career at NIH in 1985, where he has studied the genetics, pathophysiology, and treatment of inherited disorders of inflammation. He discovered disease genes that have led to life changing treatments for patients. At present it would not be possible to do that, though it is an interesting idea! There are taste buds that specialize in being able to sense sweet, sour, or salty foods. Right now there is not a mechanism to alter the relative numbers of those taste buds by gene therapy, and of course there is no saying that only one particular flavor is the most healthy.
Peru High School in IN (12th grade student)
431
If a person is an excellent swimmer, and swims often, will their children adapt and webbed fingers and or feet?
     Belen Hurle, Ph.D.: The focus of my research is to study primate genomes as a means to enhance our understanding of human evolutionary biology. No. his or her children could share some of the genetic traits that make the parent a good swimmer (such as being tall and strong) and may develop a passion for swimming due to repeated exposure to swimming from an early age. But their feet and hands will not have any special adaptations.
Riverside High School in PA (10th grade student)
432
How do things like what we eat or what we are exposed to in the environment (air pollution, cigarette smoke, pesticides on our food, etc.) interact with our genes to cause disease?
     Arjun Prasad, Ph.D.: I am a post-doctoral Fellow working in bioinformatics at NHGRI. I'm very much interested in figuring out new ways to use new DNA sequencing technology and computers to learn about how genomes work, evolve, and influence human health. Well that's a very complex question. Almost all diseases have environmental and genetic components, so the answer will vary depending on the specific disease. Many cancers, for example, have both genetic and environmental components where some people are more resistant to environmental damages than others due to their genes.
John Jay High School in TX (11th grade )
433
If not a helix, what shape did Rosalind Franklin believe DNA was in 1953?
     Jeffrey Ohmen, Ph.D.: In my current position, I am responsible for the design, implementation and execution for all genetic studies at the House Ear Institute. I alway try my best to mention Rosalind as she was slighted with credit for the discovery. I don't believe that Rosalind had a theory for the shape of DNA at the time. And the ultimate solution to it's shape needed many seperate pieces of information. But her data supported the double helix, whereas Linus Pauling had proposed a triple helix with the bases pointing out, not in.
Middletown High School in CT (12th grade student)
434
Is epilepsy carried on a gene or can it be aquired?
     Kelly Donahue, M.S.: I am a genetic counselor in the Maternal Fetal Medicine Department. I meet with women/couples that are planning to have children or who are already pregnant and have concerns that their baby may have a birth defect or genetic problem. I help them learn about genetics and testing options that can tell them more information about their babies. There are many causes of epilepsy. Some can have a genetic basis but as of yet there are not any specific genes that have been identified to cause seizures. It is likely that many genes may be involved. Some other causes of epilepsy can be acquired- these causes include things like head trauma, fevers, and infections.
Magdelene Caldwell-Burke in MD (12th grade student)

Information - Moderator Now entering the chat is Eric Green, M.D. He currently is the Director of the National Human Genome Research Institute (NHGRI) at the National Institutes of Health (NIH), a position he has held since late 2009. NHGRI is the largest organization in the world solely dedicated to genomics research. Previously, Dr. Green was the NHGRI Scientific Director, Chief of the NHGRI Genome Technology Branch, and Director of the NIH Intramural Sequencing Center. Since the early 1990s, Dr. Green has been extensively involved in efforts to map, sequence, and understand eukaryotic genomes. His work included significant, start-to-finish involvement in the Human Genome Project, and more recently focused on utilizing large-scale DNA sequencing to address important problems in genomics, genetics, and biomedicine.


436
Peru High School in IN (9th grade student)
437
McCleskey Middle School in GA (7th grade student)
438
Is it a good idea for a person to use in vitro fertilization to prevent chances of having a child having a fatalistic disease if the parent feels that he or she has a plethora of fatalistic diseases?
     Kelly Donahue, M.S.: I am a genetic counselor in the Maternal Fetal Medicine Department. I meet with women/couples that are planning to have children or who are already pregnant and have concerns that their baby may have a birth defect or genetic problem. I help them learn about genetics and testing options that can tell them more information about their babies. The decision to utilize in vitro fertilization and subsequent genetic testing is a personal one. To date, several genetic conditions can be detected/prevented this way.
Peru High School in IN (12th grade student)
439
What is personalized medicine? How close are we to reaching this goal? Is it cost effective? Are there any ethical issues?
     Courtney Nichols, M.Sc., M.S.: I am a genetic counselor who coordinates research studies that for the genes causing complex genetic diseases such as Hirschsprung disease, autism, and hypertension. I recruit and enroll participants into studies for the laboratory. I also talk with our study participants and others about the genetics of these diseases and goals of the laboratory's research. Personalized medicine is the idea of tailoring medical treatments to a patient based on their unique characteristics and genetic makeup. There is a lot of research going into personalized medicine right now and much hope that it will be common in the future. There is also research into possible ethical and social issues that could come out of personalized medicine. Already we have seen the research yield benefits, for example there are medicines prescribed for blood thinning that are metabolized differently in different people. Doctors can do a genetic test to determine the best dose of these medicines to give a particular patient. That is personalized medicine!
Northwestern High school in MD (12th grade student)
440
Have you ever seen your own DNA before or performed an experiment on yourself?
     Arjun Prasad, Ph.D.: I am a post-doctoral Fellow working in bioinformatics at NHGRI. I'm very much interested in figuring out new ways to use new DNA sequencing technology and computers to learn about how genomes work, evolve, and influence human health. I have isolated my own DNA for practice, so I guess I've seen it. I've donated blood for other peoples experiments in the lab, but I've never performed any on myself.
Westview High School in CA (9th grade student)
441
Why are nucleic acids meant to carry genetic information, rather than lipids, proteins and carbohydrate?
     Jeffrey Ohmen, Ph.D.: In my current position, I am responsible for the design, implementation and execution for all genetic studies at the House Ear Institute. I'm going to assume that when you say "meant" you are actually asking why they evolved that way. Remember, the theory holds that the primordial soup began to evolve some basic small molecules, then membranes, and RNA. RNA can act as a protein or store genetic information and direct protein synthesis. But it's not a very stable molecule, so DNA needed to evolve. It evolved to fill one role, but needed to do it very well. We now see why DNA evolved to fill this role, and why lipids didn't. For instance, you ask about lipids, proteins and carbohydrates, but both lipids and carbohydrates are energy molecules. so they naturally or easily come apart. DNA evolved to carry the genetic information. It's not meant.
Ashish Warghane, SMV Centre for Biotechnology (student)
442
How close are we to discovering a cure for cancer?
     Eric Green, M.D., Ph.D.: I'm currently the Director of the National Human Genome Research Institute (NHGRI) at the National Institutes of Health (NIH), a position that I have held held since late 2009. NHGRI is the largest organization in the world solely dedicated to genomics research. Previously, I was the NHGRI Scientific Director, Chief of the NHGRI Genome Technology Branch, and Director of the NIH Intramural Sequencing Center. Since the early 1990s, I have been extensively involved in efforts to map, sequence, and understand eukaryotic genomes. My work included significant, start-to-finish involvement in the Human Genome Project, and more recently focused on utilizing large-scale DNA sequencing to address important problems in genomics, genetics, and biomedicine. First of all, realize that cancer is not one disease-- it is actually many different diseases that share the general property of 'overgrowth'. There are some types of cancer for which we actually have 'cures'-- and survival for those cancers has improved significantly in recent years. For other types of cancer, cures remain elusive. There is hope that with new abilities to study the genomes of cancer cells will give clues for developing new cures for many different types of cancer in the future.
L V Hightower High School in TX (12th grade teacher)
443
If you develop a disease or disorder could it affect future generations?
     Jennifer Sloan, M.S., Ph.D., C.G.C.: I currently provide genetic counseling for patients with a metabolic condition called methylmalonic acidemia enrolled in a research study at the National Institues of Health. Thanks for your question! It depends on the disease or disorder whether or not it will affect future generations. Some diseases like Huntington's disease (HD) for example are hereditary. A person with HD has a 50% chance of passing the disease on to each child. Other diseases such as heart disease have both genetic and environmental influences so will not necessarily be passed on to future generations.
Peru High School in IN (9th grade student)
444
Is it possible to take anti-codons out of the cytoplasm and use their amino acids to build our own proteins?Or a protein whenever we want?
     Jeffrey Ohmen, Ph.D.: In my current position, I am responsible for the design, implementation and execution for all genetic studies at the House Ear Institute. Absolutely. We do this routinely in the lab. It's called in vitro protein synthesis. And we use cell extracts, add some ATP for energy and then add the RNA molecule we want to make the protein. Now this isn't as easy, as say putting a clone into a bacteria and letting it make a bunch of protein and then harvesting the protein from the bacteria so it's not done very often.
Westview High School in CA (11th grade student)
445
008 in TX (12th grade student)
446
Francis Howell North High School in MO (12th grade student)
447
What new careers have developed as a result of sequencing the human genome?
     Courtney Nichols, M.Sc., M.S.: I am a genetic counselor who coordinates research studies that for the genes causing complex genetic diseases such as Hirschsprung disease, autism, and hypertension. I recruit and enroll participants into studies for the laboratory. I also talk with our study participants and others about the genetics of these diseases and goals of the laboratory's research. The ability to sequence the human genome provides many career opportunities. Sequencing a genome provides a large amount of data and bioinformaticists and computer scientists are needed to handle the data. Research geneticists and statisticians are needed to interpret the data. Then clinical geneticists and genetic counselors are also needed to help interpret the data to patients, to help patients understand and adapt to information that may be learned from the sequencing. Many of these careers existed before the genome was sequenced, but now they are in even greater demand!
Northwestern High school in MD (12th grade student)
448
Palms Middle School in CA (7th grade student)
449
McCleskey Middle School in GA (7th grade student)
450
On a show called 'My Strange Addiction', it featured two women with unusual addictions. One was addicted to eating laundry detergent and the other was addicted to eating toilet paper. Are there mutations in their DNA, or is it a Nature vs Nurture situation?
     Amber Trivedi, M.S.: I am a cancer and reproductive genetic counselor. In addition to providing clinical care, I lead InformedDNA's programs to educate other health care providers, clients, and the lay population about the significance of clinical genetics. The urge to eat non-food items is called pica. The specific causes of pica are unknown, but it has been related to nutritional deficiencies or developmental disorders. Developmental disorders can be due to genetic mutations. Therefore it is likely pica has both a nature (genetic) and a nurture (environment) component.
Peru High School in IN (11th grade student)
451
Junaid Ahmed: UOMBAB (Higher Education )
452
According to the primordial soup theory, there would be a possiblity for an infinite number of ways for life to have evolved. Yet, every being on this planet is related according to Darwin's theory. How can this occur and, in light of the world being mainly sulphorous in the primordial soup times, how can everything (with some exceptions) naturally be more phosphorous-geared?
     Jeffrey Ohmen, Ph.D.: In my current position, I am responsible for the design, implementation and execution for all genetic studies at the House Ear Institute. Amazing question. I love it. OK, here goes. All life is related, because while there were 100,000,000 different molecules that could evolve in that primordial soup, life actually arose from the ordering of those molecules into individual functions and combining these functions. Very complicated. Hard to actually guess the probabilities. Didn't it take like 4 billions years for it to evolve? What are the chances of that occuring twice? Additionally, since evolution and Darwin's theories are all about competition, if life arose twice, one would maybe win. Case and point being Neanderthal? I think Homo sapiens have have out competed any other species.
Peru High School in IN (12th grade student)
453
What can cause twins to not be a genetic match for each other, if one needs a donor transplant?
     Jeffrey Ohmen, Ph.D.: In my current position, I am responsible for the design, implementation and execution for all genetic studies at the House Ear Institute. I don't quite understand your question. Twins are the perfect donors to each other and I'm not sure I've heard of them being incompatible. Sorry. Could you be more specific for me?
Peru High School in IN (11th grade student)
454
some people consider aids a genetic virus , do you feel as though genetic will at some point weed out infections to this crippling disease ?
     Amber Trivedi, M.S.: I am a cancer and reproductive genetic counselor. In addition to providing clinical care, I lead InformedDNA's programs to educate other health care providers, clients, and the lay population about the significance of clinical genetics. As technology advances, it is hopeful that genetics, or gene therapy, will prevent many diseases. There is a normal genetic variant that is associated with resistance to HIV/AIDS. One day it may be possible to use gene therapy to insert this particular genetic variant into individuals who don't have it naturally, in order to increase resistance to HIV in a population. However technology is changing so rapidly, it's difficult to predict when or how the cures for debilitating conditions may come about.
Northwestern High school in MD (12th grade student)
455
Can you cross two DNA's together to form a new species?
     Belen Hurle, Ph.D.: The focus of my research is to study primate genomes as a means to enhance our understanding of human evolutionary biology. I think that you are thinking about hybrids. Many animal hybrids, such as donkeys, are sterile and therefore cannot be considered a brand new species. Plant species hybridize more readily than animal species, and the resulting hybrids are more often fertile and may reproduce, which is a basic criteria for speciation. In the laboratory, you can achieve a moderate transfer of DNA between species, such as introducing a gene from species A into the germinal line of species B in a fashion that the offspring of B express the foreign A gene. We would say that B is genetically modified but still the same species (B).
Palms Middle School in CA (7th grade student)
456
Westview High School in CA (9th grade student)
457
I have heard that fruit flies have a gene called the 'grim reaper' gene that allows them to live longer than usual. Could this gene be implanted or epigentically turned on, in a human, to increase the longevity of life? If this did happen, would immortality be possible?
     Arjun Prasad, Ph.D.: I am a post-doctoral Fellow working in bioinformatics at NHGRI. I'm very much interested in figuring out new ways to use new DNA sequencing technology and computers to learn about how genomes work, evolve, and influence human health. I don't know much about grim reaper specifically (traditionally researchers who study fly genes give them funny names). Genetic alteration of lifespan in flys and most other animals is extended, but not made indefinite. They live longer, but not forever. I think there is little hope for us to live forever, but it may be possible to extend our lives.
Peru High School in IN (12th grade student)
458
What do you think about behavioral genetics?
     Jennifer Sloan, M.S., Ph.D., C.G.C.: I currently provide genetic counseling for patients with a metabolic condition called methylmalonic acidemia enrolled in a research study at the National Institues of Health. Adam thanks for your question. Behavioral genetics is a very interesting field and is defined as the study of how genes influence our behaviors. For example, people are studying behaviors such as intelligence, personality traits etc. Here is a link for more information.
University of Adam Mickiewicz in Poznan (Higher Education student)
459
What impact will whole genome sequencing having on patents that are currently out there on human genes (eg BRCA1,2)?
     Kris Wetterstrand, M.S.: I am the Scientific Liaison to the Director for Extramural Activities. For over ten years I have managed the National Human Genome Research Institute (NHGRI) grant portfolio, having participated in the Large-scale Sequencing Program, which managed the Human Genome Project, and the Human Microbiome Project, an effort to sequence the DNA of microbes (e.g. bacteria) that live in and on humans and the ENCODE Project, an effort to identify functional DNA elements in the human genome. Her background is in population genetics and molecular evolution. Good question. This raises issues of how we think about patent law as the technologies used to assess genetic differences have significantly advanced since the laws were put in place. It has become easier (although not always easy) to identify and sequence a gene. Should patents be allowed when the bar has been lowered? Or more philosophically, should anyone be able to patent a naturally occurring entity like a gene? And practically speaking, we are now able to sequence an entire genome for relatively little money, but we will not be allowed to know our particular mutation status, unless we pay the company that owns the patent? Much to think about.
University of Chicago in IL (Higher Education teacher)
460
Why is there 3 billion nitrogen bases in a cell? Why isn't it more or less?
     Jeffrey Ohmen, Ph.D.: In my current position, I am responsible for the design, implementation and execution for all genetic studies at the House Ear Institute. I guessing that you are referring to DNA, in which we have 3 billion base pairs. Key here is pairs. Plus, you have two of each chromosome. So there are actually 3 billion x two (DNA strands) x 2 (chromosomes). The real answer you want, is that there can be more or less, just not in humans. Plans have genomes 5 to 10 times bigger than ours. And some fish have genomes that are smaller. So the truth is, as we've evolved, we've found a way to make it work with roughly 3 billion base PAIRS in our genome.
Palms Middle School in CA (7th grade student)
461
Is it possible to modify a human's cells to make him/her fly?
     Arjun Prasad, Ph.D.: I am a post-doctoral Fellow working in bioinformatics at NHGRI. I'm very much interested in figuring out new ways to use new DNA sequencing technology and computers to learn about how genomes work, evolve, and influence human health. I wish. Flight requires a whole host of adaptations that aren't so easy to get together. True flight has only evolved a few times because it's pretty difficult to do. Luckily we can build machines that let us fly, otherwise we'd be out of luck.
McCleskey Middle School in GA (7th grade student)
462
Alberto in VA ()
463
If DNA contains all of our traits will DNA eventually be able to create a new human or organism outside of the cell?
     Jeffrey Ohmen, Ph.D.: In my current position, I am responsible for the design, implementation and execution for all genetic studies at the House Ear Institute. This is still the mystery of life. We can not just take DNA and make something alive. We can add DNA while it's alive, but life has to be there. I'm sure we'll never be Dr. Frankenstein and reanimate dead tissue.
Palms Middle School in CA (7th grade student)
464
About how many hours per week does a scientist work?
     Arjun Prasad, Ph.D.: I am a post-doctoral Fellow working in bioinformatics at NHGRI. I'm very much interested in figuring out new ways to use new DNA sequencing technology and computers to learn about how genomes work, evolve, and influence human health. That can vary a lot, but most scientists I know spend between 50 and 70 hours a week at work, sometimes more sometimes less. Most scientists have a somewhat flexible work schedule, but sometimes experiments require working through the night.
Westview High School in CA (11th grade student)
465
Is it possible to cross a mouse and a rat? And if not, why?
     Jeffrey Ohmen, Ph.D.: In my current position, I am responsible for the design, implementation and execution for all genetic studies at the House Ear Institute. And why would we want to do this? OK, no we can't. The two species have been evolving seperately for too long. Sometimes when a species is still closely related to another one, this can happen (donkeys and horses for instance) such as a mule. While you can have a hybrid species (mules), they are almost always sterile, so the species doesn't really exist.
Williamsburg Middle School in VA (7th grade student)
466
If THC is plays a role in causing cancer then why do they use marijuana as a medication for cancer patients?
     Amber Trivedi, M.S.: I am a cancer and reproductive genetic counselor. In addition to providing clinical care, I lead InformedDNA's programs to educate other health care providers, clients, and the lay population about the significance of clinical genetics. There actually is not clear evidence that THC causes cancer. Some studies have shown a link between marijuana use and cancer, while other studies have associated THC with increased cancer cell death (lowering cancer's ability to spread). Marijuana or synthetic THC is prescribed to cancer patients to help control the nausea and vomiting associated with chemotherapy and other cancer treatments. It is not prescribed as a cancer treatment, but rather something to help the side effects of cancer treatment. Although marijuana has been used for medical purposes, the National Cancer Institute feel other antinausea drugs work better than THC. Therefore THC is used primarily for cancer patients whose nausea is not controlled by the other medications.
Peru High School in IN (12th grade student)
467
Will there ever be genetically inhanced humans? Such as stronger or faster?
     Belen Hurle, Ph.D.: The focus of my research is to study primate genomes as a means to enhance our understanding of human evolutionary biology. Who defines what "superior" or "enhanced" means? The general consensus among experts in bioethics is that it is fundamentally non-ethical to modify humans with the purpose to obtain "superior" individuals. The laws regulating genetic manipulation favor the banning of these uses of genetic technology.
Peru High School in IN (9th grade student)
468
Peru High School in IN (9th grade student)
469
Peru High School in IN (9th grade student)
470
Will we be able to change our DNA sequence when we are grown up one day?
     Jeffrey Ohmen, Ph.D.: In my current position, I am responsible for the design, implementation and execution for all genetic studies at the House Ear Institute. Sure. Scientists are working on "gene therapy", which is a method of giving patients with gentetic diseases back a healthy copy of the broken gene. That said, the method is far from perfected so it may be a few years before this is a regular treatment.
Palms Middle School in CA (7th grade student)
471
Why is the X sex chromosone in both females and males? What is it about that specific chromosone that makes it so important that it is needed in both males and females?
     Kelly Donahue, M.S.: I am a genetic counselor in the Maternal Fetal Medicine Department. I meet with women/couples that are planning to have children or who are already pregnant and have concerns that their baby may have a birth defect or genetic problem. I help them learn about genetics and testing options that can tell them more information about their babies. The X chromosome has genes that are essential to both males and females. These genes codes for many different body functions. Just one such is muscle development and health.
Peru High School in IN (9th grade student)
472
Palms Middle School in CA (7th grade student)
473
My little sister has cp, epilepsy, and autism, but neither her mom or her dad have ever experienced any of her disabilities. Why does she have them? And will anything ever cure her?
     Kelly Donahue, M.S.: I am a genetic counselor in the Maternal Fetal Medicine Department. I meet with women/couples that are planning to have children or who are already pregnant and have concerns that their baby may have a birth defect or genetic problem. I help them learn about genetics and testing options that can tell them more information about their babies. It is not possible for me to know why your sister has the specific issues she has. Individually, cerebal palsy, epilespy and autism can have many causes both genetic and non-genetic. When they are seen together it is possible they may be related by a common cause but more information would be needed to tell with certainty.
Peru High School in IN (9th grade student)
474
What if a person had cancer resistant genes? Could those be used to help cure or prevent cancer?
     Jennifer Sloan, M.S., Ph.D., C.G.C.: I currently provide genetic counseling for patients with a metabolic condition called methylmalonic acidemia enrolled in a research study at the National Institues of Health. Thanks for your question! You are correct-there are some gene variants that are protective against cancer. Scientists are interested in understanding more about the functions of these gene variants to see if the could understand more about the biology of cancer. In theory, new cancer drugs could be discovered to enhance the function of these protective genes.
Peru High School in IN (9th grade student)
475
Brownsville Area High School in PA (10th grade student)
476
About how many hours on average will a scientist work a week?
     Courtney Nichols, M.Sc., M.S.: I am a genetic counselor who coordinates research studies that for the genes causing complex genetic diseases such as Hirschsprung disease, autism, and hypertension. I recruit and enroll participants into studies for the laboratory. I also talk with our study participants and others about the genetics of these diseases and goals of the laboratory's research. That can vary quite a bit! Many scientists are very passionate about their work and will work more than 40 hours a week. Working extra hours is also often necessary to become well known and successful as a lead investigators in a scientific field. However, there are many ways to be involved in science and individuals who do not lead studies may work less hours.
3521 in CA (11th grade student)
477
Human genes decide how we look. Can it help decide our personalities?
     Kelly Donahue, M.S.: I am a genetic counselor in the Maternal Fetal Medicine Department. I meet with women/couples that are planning to have children or who are already pregnant and have concerns that their baby may have a birth defect or genetic problem. I help them learn about genetics and testing options that can tell them more information about their babies. That is an active area of genetic study. To date, there is evidence that genes may play a role in our personality but they are certainly not the only factor. Our life experiences also play a major role in our personality.
Peru High School in IN (9th grade student)
478
Cape Fear Academy in NC (9th grade student)
479
Why is it that when a child gets the gene for Angelmanns Syndrome it's from the mother but when they get it from the father they get Prader-Willi Syndrome, and that they're two different diseases?
     Amber Trivedi, M.S.: I am a cancer and reproductive genetic counselor. In addition to providing clinical care, I lead InformedDNA's programs to educate other health care providers, clients, and the lay population about the significance of clinical genetics. This is due to the phenomenon of imprinting. Imprinting refers to how a certain gene (or region within our DNA) affects us differently when we inherit it from our mother vs from our father. There are several different areas in our genome that we know are affected by imprinting, and the genes that cause Angelman and Prader-Willi syndrome are in one of those regions.
Peru High School in IN (9th grade student)
480
L V Hightower High School in TX (12th grade teacher)
481
so are you enjoying DNA day?!?!?!?!?
     Jennifer Sloan, M.S., Ph.D., C.G.C.: I currently provide genetic counseling for patients with a metabolic condition called methylmalonic acidemia enrolled in a research study at the National Institues of Health. Yes I am enjoying DNA Day very much. I participate in the DNA Day Chat Room every year and have fun answering your clinical questions!
Peru High School in IN (9th grade student)
482
My dog has a problem in his ankle and his hip, but he is bigger than most puppies his age. Could the problems with his joints be cancer or a genetic thing?
     Jeffrey Ohmen, Ph.D.: In my current position, I am responsible for the design, implementation and execution for all genetic studies at the House Ear Institute. Well, I'm not a veterinarian but I'll take a guess at your question. My first question to you, is: is it both sides? If it's genetic, then both sides should be affected evenly. When something affects only one side, I'm thinking it's a sporadic event. Now as far as his size, there are genetic differences in dogs, even within purebred lines. So someone has to be the biggest. Again, entirely as a non-veterinarian, there is a very comman malady in dogs call hip dysplasia. Many pure bred lines (big dogs especially) such as German shepherds and others suffer this dispalsia and can be quite debilitating. This disease is definitely genetic. Not sure about the ankle thing...........
Peru High School in IN (9th grade student)
483
Academy of the Sacred Heart in MI (12th grade student)
484
I have a teacher who has tiger posters all over the wall. One day I realized that the cubs have blue eyes but the adults have brownish-orange eyes. Is this caused by the genes changing with age?
     Belen Hurle, Ph.D.: The focus of my research is to study primate genomes as a means to enhance our understanding of human evolutionary biology. I don't know much about tigers, but human eyes often start out as blue-ish and later turn darker. The reason is that it takes a while for the pigments of the eye to accumulate in enough concentration to darken the eye. In fact it may take years before the eye reaches a stable coloration.
Peru High School in IN (9th grade student)
485
McCleskey Middle School in GA (7th grade student)
486
Why is it that sickle cell anemia is more prevalent in african americans? Is it hereditary?
     Vence Bonham, J.D.: I currently research the ethical, legal, social and policy implications of genomic discoveries, particularly health professionals' and lay persons' understanding of race, ethnicity and genetics. Sickle cell anemia is more prevalent in certain geographic areas of the world where malaria is located. Sickle cell trait (carrier status) provides protection from malaria. Sickle cell anemia is most common in people whose families come from Sub-Sahara Africa, South or Central America Caribbean islands, Mediterranean countries (such as Turkey, Greece, and Italy), India, and Saudi Arabia.
Seymour ()
487
Westview High School in CA (12th grade student)
488
When a tree is made into paper, does it still have DNA?
     Belen Hurle, Ph.D.: The focus of my research is to study primate genomes as a means to enhance our understanding of human evolutionary biology. possibly not - paper is made out of cellulose which is just fibers
McCleskey Middle School in GA (7th grade student)
489
What specific chemicals have been isolated to induce epigenetic tags?
     Jeffrey Ohmen, Ph.D.: In my current position, I am responsible for the design, implementation and execution for all genetic studies at the House Ear Institute. Now that is a tough question. I know that people are experimenting with chemicals (hormones mostly) to try and de-differentiate cells so that stem cells can be obtained, but I don't know the specific chemicals.
Hunterdon Central Regional High School in NJ (10th grade student)
490
Would it be possible to obtain stem cells from a clone's embryo and would it be considered ethical and not cause as much controversy?
     Courtney Nichols, M.Sc., M.S.: I am a genetic counselor who coordinates research studies that for the genes causing complex genetic diseases such as Hirschsprung disease, autism, and hypertension. I recruit and enroll participants into studies for the laboratory. I also talk with our study participants and others about the genetics of these diseases and goals of the laboratory's research. It would be possible to obtain embryonic stem cells from a clone's embryo, but it would still raise many ethical questions and controversy because it would still be the creation of a life for the purpose of obtaining stem cells. There are other types of stem cells besides embryonic stem cells, and researchers are currently working on ways to use these other types of stem cells (which are called non-embryonic because they are not obtained from an embryo). Research on and use of these non-embryonic stem cells is less controversial.
Peru High School in IN (9th grade student)
491
Why do some people who are not born with epilepsy develop it?
     Amber Trivedi, M.S.: I am a cancer and reproductive genetic counselor. In addition to providing clinical care, I lead InformedDNA's programs to educate other health care providers, clients, and the lay population about the significance of clinical genetics. Epilepsy may come as a result from a brain injury, or as a result of a stroke or tumor. Other times, epilepsy is part of a genetic syndrome. But for about half of the people with epilepsy, the cause of their seizures is unknown. Epilepsy can develop later in life if the injury, stroke, tumor, or other cause occurred later in life. Also, some genetic syndromes or other underlying conditions may need to progress and become more severe over time before seizures occur.
Peru High School in IN (9th grade student)
492
Peru High School in IN (9th grade student)
493
Westview High School in CA (10th grade student)
494
Is it possible for doctors to track genes in families that could potentially cause diseases or disorders like Diabeties, Cancer, Austism, etc.?
     Heather A. Junkins, M.S.: I currently work in the Office of Population Genomics on a variety of projects that aim to promote the application of genomic technologies to population-based studies.ŭ Included in the portfolio are projects that are developing standard phenotype and exposure measures for genome-wide association studies (GWAS) and using well-characterized cohorts to follow-up on putative casual variants.ŭ I'm also the curator for the NHGRI GWAS Catalog. The Surgeon General's Family Health History Tool would be a good place to start in collecting information. More information can be found at, www.familyhistory.hhs.gov
McCleskey Middle School in GA (7th grade student)
495
Human microflora is influenced by environment. Is there any evidence that human genome also controls this Microflora composition?
     Kris Wetterstrand, M.S.: I am the Scientific Liaison to the Director for Extramural Activities. For over ten years I have managed the National Human Genome Research Institute (NHGRI) grant portfolio, having participated in the Large-scale Sequencing Program, which managed the Human Genome Project, and the Human Microbiome Project, an effort to sequence the DNA of microbes (e.g. bacteria) that live in and on humans and the ENCODE Project, an effort to identify functional DNA elements in the human genome. Her background is in population genetics and molecular evolution. The human microbiome is undoubtedly influenced by the genetics of humans. We don't really know how, yet, because the large-scale, comprehensive examination of human microbiome is relatively new. However, we know that genetic products of the microbiome interact with the genetic products of humans. Hopefully, in the future we can tease apart the system enough to know wat controls what.
Sharda Bhagchandani, SMV Centre for Biotechnology, India (teacher)
496
Is it possible for a human to have a mutation which would give them a new ability (ie Spiderman)?
     Arjun Prasad, Ph.D.: I am a post-doctoral Fellow working in bioinformatics at NHGRI. I'm very much interested in figuring out new ways to use new DNA sequencing technology and computers to learn about how genomes work, evolve, and influence human health. Unfortunately those kinds of abilities are the realm of science fiction. Most mutations are deleterious or neutral, meaning they don't create new functions or help.
McCleskey Middle School in GA (7th grade student)
497
Does a faulty gene cause diabetes? Can we fix it?
     Amber Trivedi, M.S.: I am a cancer and reproductive genetic counselor. In addition to providing clinical care, I lead InformedDNA's programs to educate other health care providers, clients, and the lay population about the significance of clinical genetics. Although the exact cause of diabetes is unknown, both genetic and environmental factors are thought to play a role. At this time there are no therapies to fix faulty genes associated with diabetes, but hopefully there will be in the future!
Peru High School in IN (9th grade student)
498
Academy of the Sacred Heart in MI (12th grade student)
499
Peru High School in IN (9th grade student)
500
Peru High School in IN (9th grade student)
501
McCleskey Middle School in GA (7th grade student)
502
Why do some twins not look alike?
     Jennifer Sloan, M.S., Ph.D., C.G.C.: I currently provide genetic counseling for patients with a metabolic condition called methylmalonic acidemia enrolled in a research study at the National Institues of Health. Thanks for your question. There are 2 different types of twins: monozygotic and dizygotic. Monozygotic twins are identical twins and they come from the same embryo that divides after fertilization. They generally look alike because their genes are 100% identical. Dizygotic twins are when 2 eggs are fertilized by two different sperm and therefore they share as much DNA as siblings do. If dizygotic twins are of the same gender, they most likely will not look exactly the same because they do not share all of their genes.
Academy of the Sacred Heart in MI (12th grade student)
503
I have two questions. I just named my puppy FISH after (Flouresence in situ hybridization). The entire litter was named after genetic processes or terms dealing with DNA. I am still slightly confused as to what FISH is. I was wondering if anyone could explain the process to me.
     Jeffrey Ohmen, Ph.D.: In my current position, I am responsible for the design, implementation and execution for all genetic studies at the House Ear Institute. I love it! So FISH stands for fluorescent in situ hybridization. And what it is, is a way to "look" at individual DNA strands. Flourescence is used to amplify the signal. Hard to see one molecule, but if the molecule keeps giving off flashes of light, we can amplify the signal ans see it. The in situ means, "inside the cell" and hybridization is what happens when the two DNA strands stick together. So the whole proceedure is to squash a dividing cell, denature or seperate the DNA strands, add a fluorescent DNA molecule, which binds to it's target, which is then visualized. The technique is usually used in the lab to check out tumor samples as tumors often have more than two copies of a gene. If you see more than two sources of fluorescence, it maybe cancer.
St. Cloud State University in MN (Higher Education student)
504
I have two questions. I just named my puppy FISH after (Flouresence in situ hybridization). The entire litter was named after genetic processes or terms dealing with DNA. I am still slightly confused as to what FISH is. I was wondering if anyone could explain the process to me.
     Jeffrey Ohmen, Ph.D.: In my current position, I am responsible for the design, implementation and execution for all genetic studies at the House Ear Institute. I love it! So FISH stands for fluorescent in situ hybridization. And what it is, is a way to "look" at individual DNA strands. Flourescence is used to amplify the signal. Hard to see one molecule, but if the molecule keeps giving off flashes of light, we can amplify the signal ans see it. The in situ means, "inside the cell" and hybridization is what happens when the two DNA strands stick together. So the whole proceedure is to squash a dividing cell, denature or seperate the DNA strands, add a fluorescent DNA molecule, which binds to it's target, which is then visualized. The technique is usually used in the lab to check out tumor samples as tumors often have more than two copies of a gene. If you see more than two sources of fluorescence, it maybe cancer.
St. Cloud State University in MN (Higher Education student)
505
McCleskey Middle School in GA (7th grade student)
506
Academy of the Sacred Heart in MI (12th grade student)
507
When an animal changes colors for the season does the DNA change color as well?
     Jeffrey Ohmen, Ph.D.: In my current position, I am responsible for the design, implementation and execution for all genetic studies at the House Ear Institute. The DNA does not change. Everything you ever see is protein. Proteins do everthing like make hair, finger nails, etc. So when an animal changes coat color, the DNA stays the same but the proteins that make up the fur change.
McCleskey Middle School in GA (7th grade student)
508
Would it ever be possible to use stem cells to create replacement organs outside of the human body? And if so, could they be used in transplants?
     Kelly Donahue, M.S.: I am a genetic counselor in the Maternal Fetal Medicine Department. I meet with women/couples that are planning to have children or who are already pregnant and have concerns that their baby may have a birth defect or genetic problem. I help them learn about genetics and testing options that can tell them more information about their babies. That's a very good question that is currently being explored by researchers. To date stem cells have been grown in the laboratory and can mimic different cell types but none have been grown into functioning organs.
Peru High School in IN (9th grade student)
509
Francis Howell North High School in MO (12th grade student)
510
How come nucleotides are paired as GC and AT and not someting different?
     Jeffrey Ohmen, Ph.D.: In my current position, I am responsible for the design, implementation and execution for all genetic studies at the House Ear Institute. This entirely has to do with size of the molecule. The DNA double helix has an exact width. If A paired with G or C with T, the width would vary. In addition, the molcules share some hydrogen bonds, and if the pairing isn't correct, there are no hydrogen bonds to stabilize the structure.
McCleskey Middle School in GA (7th grade student)
511
If red blood cells don't have DNA why do people draw blood for DNA ?
     Jennifer Sloan, M.S., Ph.D., C.G.C.: I currently provide genetic counseling for patients with a metabolic condition called methylmalonic acidemia enrolled in a research study at the National Institues of Health. Great question! In the blood there are also cells called leukocytes (or white blood cells) that are used to extract DNA.
Westview High School in CA (9th grade student)
512
3051 in CA (10th grade student)
513
What causes hermaphoritism (or intersexuality)? Is it like some sort of defective gene that a parent(s) pass down and, in the right conditions, forms a person of both genders or is it just some sort of mutation that occurs in the devolpment of a persons genitals?
     Kelly Donahue, M.S.: I am a genetic counselor in the Maternal Fetal Medicine Department. I meet with women/couples that are planning to have children or who are already pregnant and have concerns that their baby may have a birth defect or genetic problem. I help them learn about genetics and testing options that can tell them more information about their babies. True hermaphrodites (individuals with a mix of males and female genitals) are very rare. The gene changes occur across the whole genome of the individual not just in the genitals.
Peru High School in IN (9th grade student)
514
I went to a horse breed color calculator and entered the scenario that I have a homozygous chestnut and a homozygous black and it said the outcome is 100% gray. Is it because the genes of both parents are dominant?
     Arjun Prasad, Ph.D.: I am a post-doctoral Fellow working in bioinformatics at NHGRI. I'm very much interested in figuring out new ways to use new DNA sequencing technology and computers to learn about how genomes work, evolve, and influence human health. I don't know much about horse coat color, but it could be the result of semi-dominance. That is where heterozygosity of one allele has a smaller effect than its homozygosity, or co-dominance, where both alleles together produce a third phenotype.
Peru High School in IN (9th grade student)
515
Where is genetic medicine headed and what is the biggest challenge in getting there?
     Heather A. Junkins, M.S.: I currently work in the Office of Population Genomics on a variety of projects that aim to promote the application of genomic technologies to population-based studies.ŭ Included in the portfolio are projects that are developing standard phenotype and exposure measures for genome-wide association studies (GWAS) and using well-characterized cohorts to follow-up on putative casual variants.ŭ I'm also the curator for the NHGRI GWAS Catalog. The future of genetic medicine is very exciting. There have been many advances in the field due to the decreasing costs of sequencing technology and the development of new analysis methods for interpreting and understanding the vast amounts of data that are being produced. Over the next decade, genetics will be moving into the realm of clinical medicine.
LLH in MA (Higher Education )
516
Is there any way through which multipotent stem cells of our body can be induced in situ for treatment of tissue damage, especially for neurons?
     Amber Trivedi, M.S.: I am a cancer and reproductive genetic counselor. In addition to providing clinical care, I lead InformedDNA's programs to educate other health care providers, clients, and the lay population about the significance of clinical genetics. Stem cell research is still in its infancy, and there is much unknown about how stem cells can differentiate into mature cell types. At this time, there is no treatment involving in situ stem cells.
Sharda Bhagchandani, SMV Centre for Biotechnology, India (teacher)
517
Can we currently alter a genetic structure to cure any diseases? Also, have any direct links been made between autoimmunity and genetics?
     Kelly Donahue, M.S.: I am a genetic counselor in the Maternal Fetal Medicine Department. I meet with women/couples that are planning to have children or who are already pregnant and have concerns that their baby may have a birth defect or genetic problem. I help them learn about genetics and testing options that can tell them more information about their babies. We cannot alter the structure of a gene to cure any disease. But we can provide a "missing gene" via gene therapy to help alleviate some of the symptoms of an underlying genetic disease. To date, there are not any direct links between autoimmunity and genetics but that is an active area of research.
Pasco High School in FL (11th grade student)
518
Would acoholic intake affect the fetus during early or late pregnancy more?
     Amber Trivedi, M.S.: I am a cancer and reproductive genetic counselor. In addition to providing clinical care, I lead InformedDNA's programs to educate other health care providers, clients, and the lay population about the significance of clinical genetics. Maternal alcohol potentially has an effect throughout pregnancy. In early pregnancy, while the fetus is still forming, alcohol may play a role in the development of birth defects or structural anomalies. Later in pregnancy, alcohol may not affect the structure of the fetus, but it could have an effect on the fetus' brain development.
Peru High School in IN (9th grade student)
519
How many years of college are required to become a biotechnologist or anything similar to that field of work?
     Arjun Prasad, Ph.D.: I am a post-doctoral Fellow working in bioinformatics at NHGRI. I'm very much interested in figuring out new ways to use new DNA sequencing technology and computers to learn about how genomes work, evolve, and influence human health. Lab technicians usually have either Bachelors or Masters degrees (typically 4-6 years) and lab heads, or principal investigators usually have PhDs.
Westview High School in CA (10th grade student)
520
Does your DNA effect your personality?
     Jeffrey Ohmen, Ph.D.: In my current position, I am responsible for the design, implementation and execution for all genetic studies at the House Ear Institute. We think that most things in life arise from the interaction of our genetic makeup and the environment. While we are continuously discovering more ways that DNA contributes to our life and how we are, personality is one of the hardest areas to decifer the two sources. But we do know that many psychiatric diseases from Autism to Tourets syndrome, schizophrenia, depression are genetic so yes, DNA does affect personality in big ways. The subtleties of our personality are clearly all environmental.
Peru High School in IN (9th grade student)
521
Westview High School in CA (10th grade student)

Information - Moderator Now entering the chat is Anna Rossoshek, M.S. Her duties require her to be very familiar with the entire Extramural grants portfolio. She often does a variety of portfolio analysis projects as part of her routine responsibilities.


523
Do genes evolve over time like animals or people do?
     Jeffrey Ohmen, Ph.D.: In my current position, I am responsible for the design, implementation and execution for all genetic studies at the House Ear Institute. Definitely. In fact, I think you have the cart in front of the horse. Animals and people evolve only after the genes evolve. You need the capcity do something new before you get in a situation that demands evolution.
Peru High School in IN (9th grade student)
524
Westview High School in CA (12th grade student)
525
Since childhood has an effect on you later in life, such as neglect or abuse has an effect, could it be possible that a child with a mental illness develop the same as a child who was neglected or abused?
     Amber Trivedi, M.S.: I am a cancer and reproductive genetic counselor. In addition to providing clinical care, I lead InformedDNA's programs to educate other health care providers, clients, and the lay population about the significance of clinical genetics. You're correct that things that happen during childhood may have an effect on how that person behaves as an adult. If a mental illness is untreated and causes bad things to happen to a child, that could have an effect on how that child develops as an adult. However, mental illness may not always have a very negative effect on a child's development, especially if the illness is diagnosed and treated. Similarly, some children who were abused have turned those negative experiences into positive motivation for their lives.
Peru High School in IN (9th grade student)
526
Hightower High School in TX (11th grade student)
527
My friend is biracial. Their mother is Caucasian and their father is African American. How did the two skin tones combine to make their skin tone, because I thought that genes were supposed to be dominant and recessive?
     Jeffrey Ohmen, Ph.D.: In my current position, I am responsible for the design, implementation and execution for all genetic studies at the House Ear Institute. Ah, if only life were as simple as dominant or recessive. Black or white. Dominance and recessiveness applies only in situations where there is a single gene with two alleles. As for skin color, there are probably at least 4 different genes that work in concert and several different alleles for each gene. So you can get many different skin colors and shades depending on which genes and alleles you inherit. Eye color behaves a bit more like dominant and recessive, with black dominant and blue a recessive. But you can get some greens and browns in there too.
Peru High School in IN (9th grade student)
528
Westview High School in CA (10th grade student)
529
Is DNA used everyday in your field of work? Do you look at DNA underneath a microscope?
     Arjun Prasad, Ph.D.: I am a post-doctoral Fellow working in bioinformatics at NHGRI. I'm very much interested in figuring out new ways to use new DNA sequencing technology and computers to learn about how genomes work, evolve, and influence human health. Most of the time I spend looking at DNA sequences on the computer, but people I work with are working on isolating and sequencing DNA every day. Individual DNA strands alone are too small to see under a light microscope, most of the time we look at large numbers of DNA molecules together or at more visible probes that attach to DNA.
Brownsville Area High School in PA (9th grade student)
530
How do mutations occur?
     Jeffrey Ohmen, Ph.D.: In my current position, I am responsible for the design, implementation and execution for all genetic studies at the House Ear Institute. Good question. Mutations always occur accidentally. Sometime because normal cellular proteins (DNA polymerase) makes a mistake during DNA replication. But we know that UV light causes thymine T residues to form thymine dimers, which then need to be fixed, and can sometimes be fixed incorrectly.When this happens, you get skin cancer.
McCleskey Middle School in GA (7th grade student)
531
Peru High School in IN (9th grade student)
532
McCleskey Middle School in GA (7th grade student)
533
Francis Howell North High School in MO (12th grade student)
534
Sharda Bhagchandani, SMV Centre for Biotechnology, India (teacher)
535
McCleskey Middle School in GA (7th grade student)
536
If you have cancer, is your DNA affected?
     Jeffrey Ohmen, Ph.D.: In my current position, I am responsible for the design, implementation and execution for all genetic studies at the House Ear Institute. By definition. Normal DNA keeps a cell under control. Cancer cells typically have many many changes to the DNA
McCleskey Middle School in GA (7th grade student)

Information - Moderator Now entering the chat is Shawn Burgess, Ph.D. Dr. Burgess' laboratory studies developmental processes and their relationship to human genetic disease. He also was a part of a group at MIT that pioneered the use of pseudotyped retroviruses for mutagenesis in Zebrafish.


538
Francis Howell Central High School in MO (11th grade student)
539
Terrell in AL ()
540
I am in college pursuing a career in genetics? Are there any internships or tips in my journey. Is there anyone in California whom I can meet.
     Courtney Nichols, M.Sc., M.S.: I am a genetic counselor who coordinates research studies that for the genes causing complex genetic diseases such as Hirschsprung disease, autism, and hypertension. I recruit and enroll participants into studies for the laboratory. I also talk with our study participants and others about the genetics of these diseases and goals of the laboratory's research. I would absolutely encourage you to meet geneticists in your area to talk about their careers and to do internships! To find scientists doing work you're interested in, you can look at the websites of universities near you to find faculty working in areas you are interested in. They may be able have you for an internship. You may also contact genetics departments at hospitals near you to see if they would allow you to shadow them as they see patients or to do an internship. If you are intereted in genetic counseling, you can find genetic counselors in your area who are willing to talk with students by going to www.ngsc.org and using the "Find a Counselor" function to search for genetic counselors near you. Talk with as many people as you can to help you gain experience and pick the direction in genetics that most interests you!
Merced Community College in CA (student)
541
Have any cures for cancer been found?
     Arjun Prasad, Ph.D.: I am a post-doctoral Fellow working in bioinformatics at NHGRI. I'm very much interested in figuring out new ways to use new DNA sequencing technology and computers to learn about how genomes work, evolve, and influence human health. Some cancers have very effective treatments and are effectively cured, but cancer isn't just one disease it's many different diseases, some of which are much harder to treat than others.
Westview High School in CA (10th grade student)
542
Can crossing over happen between the X and Y chromosome like it happens between autosomal chromosomes?
     Jeffrey Ohmen, Ph.D.: In my current position, I am responsible for the design, implementation and execution for all genetic studies at the House Ear Institute. Maybe extremely rarely and would result in a genetic disease. X and Y chromosomes share enough sequence so that they pair together in meiosis but don't share enough sequence homology for crossing over to occur (Y chromosome is so small!)
McCleskey Middle School in GA (7th grade student)
543
McCleskey Middle School in GA (7th grade student)
544
A person is autistic, but nobody in the family is ... how did they get it?
     Jennifer Sloan, M.S., Ph.D., C.G.C.: I currently provide genetic counseling for patients with a metabolic condition called methylmalonic acidemia enrolled in a research study at the National Institues of Health. Thanks for your question! Autism affects about 1:150 people and males are more often affected. The causes of autism are unknown and probably involve a combination of genetic factors and environmental factors. Scientists are actively studying autism and trying to figure out the causes and with new technology sequencing all of our genes. About 5-10% of autism is caused by an underlying genetic syndrome such as Fragile X syndrome. But 90-95% of people with autism do not have a genetic syndrome or family history of autism.
Peru High School in IN (9th grade student)
545
Brownsville Area High School in PA (9th grade student)
546
Westview High School in CA (12th grade student)
547
Is tracing your ancestry a viable option through genetics? Or is this an inaccurate form of tracing family origin because of the inter-mixing of the human population?
     Amber Trivedi, M.S.: I am a cancer and reproductive genetic counselor. In addition to providing clinical care, I lead InformedDNA's programs to educate other health care providers, clients, and the lay population about the significance of clinical genetics. Genetic testing does tell us about our ancestral origins. Maternal lineage can be traced using the mitochondrial genome, and paternal lineage can be traced using the Y chromosome. Genetic testing for ancestry can actually be interesting if it reveals you have some genetic markers from a part of the world you didn't know you had ancestors from. This type of testing uses the migration patterns of history to match certain genetic markers with specific geographical origins, but it usually can't tell you too many specifics of how distant an ancestor from a particular region may be, or the specific migration patterns of your relatives.
L V Hightower High School in TX (11th grade student)
548
I am allergic to chocolate, but no one in my family is allergic to chocolate, why?
     Shawn Burgess, Ph.D.: Dr. Burgess' laboratory studies developmental processes and their relationship to human genetic disease. Allergies are a combination of genetics (which you inherited from your parents) and environment, your interactions with the world. Allergies are formed after exposure to potential allergens, your genetics determines how your body will react. It may be that your parents weren't exposed to chocolate at a time when it would have triggered an allergy, or it may be that the combination of genes you got from your parents makes you more likely to form an allergy to chocolate than either one of them.
Peru High School in IN (9th grade student)
549
McCleskey Middle School in GA (7th grade student)
550
McCleskey Middle School in GA (7th grade student)
551
Because chimpanzees are the most closley related animal to humans, is it possible to mutate a chimpanzee to make it evolve into a human?
     Kelly Donahue, M.S.: I am a genetic counselor in the Maternal Fetal Medicine Department. I meet with women/couples that are planning to have children or who are already pregnant and have concerns that their baby may have a birth defect or genetic problem. I help them learn about genetics and testing options that can tell them more information about their babies. Yes- chimpanzees are closely related to humans but the two species still have very many differences among their genes. While it may sound theoretically possible for mutation to cause a chimp to evolve into a human, that is not truly possible. Such a change would require many many gene changes over an extended period of time.
McCleskey Middle School in GA (7th grade student)
552
McCleskey Middle School in GA (7th grade student)
553
McCleskey Middle School in GA (7th grade student)
554
Does the color of your eyes have anything to do with colorblindness?
     Jeffrey Ohmen, Ph.D.: In my current position, I am responsible for the design, implementation and execution for all genetic studies at the House Ear Institute. Nope. Eye color is in your iris. Color blindness is the absence of specific cell types in the back of your retina. So blue, green, brown and black eyes can all be color blind. That said, most of these color blind folks are men as the gene for this is on the X chromosome
Peru High School in IN (9th grade student)
555
Peru High School in IN (9th grade student)
556
Peru High School in IN (9th grade student)
557
Hightower High School in TX (11th grade student)
558
Why is there "junk" DNA between the "useful" DNA?
     Shawn Burgess, Ph.D.: Dr. Burgess' laboratory studies developmental processes and their relationship to human genetic disease. The term "junk DNA" was coined back when they first discovered that the genes seemed to only consist of roughly 1.5% of all the DNA in our body. It turns out that the reality is that much of that junk DNA has other important functions that we are just learning about now. Things like gene regulation, structural attachment, and DNA replication are all functions that are controlled from those junk spaces. One man's junk is another man's treasure.
McCleskey Middle School in GA (7th grade student)
559
Why don't cancer cells respond to growth signals?
     Kelly Donahue, M.S.: I am a genetic counselor in the Maternal Fetal Medicine Department. I meet with women/couples that are planning to have children or who are already pregnant and have concerns that their baby may have a birth defect or genetic problem. I help them learn about genetics and testing options that can tell them more information about their babies. Some cancers do respond to growth signals. Unfortunately, some such signals are ones that have mutated or changed so that they tell the cell to grow at an uncontrollable or unstoppable rate. This is a way in which some cancers can spread.
Peru High School in IN (9th grade student)
560
My dog is an English Mastiff and he's one year old. He's already 160 pounds though, and he has trouble getting up and around. Will he have a lot of problems when he's older??
     Jeffrey Ohmen, Ph.D.: In my current position, I am responsible for the design, implementation and execution for all genetic studies at the House Ear Institute. I'm not a veterinarian, but I will say that many large dogs have a genetic mutation which causes them to have hip dysplasia. It can be very debilitating. You should google up hip dysplasia and English mastiff to find out if your dogs breed is susceptible. Good luck.
Peru High School in IN (9th grade student)
561
Why is there junk DNA?
     Jennifer Sloan, M.S., Ph.D., C.G.C.: I currently provide genetic counseling for patients with a metabolic condition called methylmalonic acidemia enrolled in a research study at the National Institues of Health. Thanks for your question. We prefer to call "junk DNA" non-coding DNA because some of this DNA has specific functions. Most non-coding DNA lies between genes on the chromosome and has no known function. Other non-coding DNA, called introns, is found within genes. Some non-coding DNA plays a role in the regulation of gene expression.
McCleskey Middle School in GA (7th grade student)
562
L V Hightower High School in TX (11th grade student)
563
How do you cure/treat genetic diseases?
     Amber Trivedi, M.S.: I am a cancer and reproductive genetic counselor. In addition to providing clinical care, I lead InformedDNA's programs to educate other health care providers, clients, and the lay population about the significance of clinical genetics. For most genetic diseases, the symptoms are treated. Therefore the specific treatment depends on what the disease is. In the future, it is hopeful that gene therapy will be available as a more effective treatment, and will work as the cure for many genetic diseases. Gene therapy has been effective for some conditions, but technology is not yet advanced enough to make it effective for most conditions.
McCleskey Middle School in GA (7th grade student)
564
What is the worst mutation?
     Shawn Burgess, Ph.D.: Dr. Burgess' laboratory studies developmental processes and their relationship to human genetic disease. Mutations can be good or bad depending on the circumstance. Any mutation that makes someone sick is the worst mutation to the unfortunate person that inherits it. The most severe mutations will cause death of the organism, but perhaps the worst mutations are the ones that cause the individual to suffer.
McCleskey Middle School in GA (7th grade student)
565
How can scientists manipulate DNA?
     Jeffrey Ohmen, Ph.D.: In my current position, I am responsible for the design, implementation and execution for all genetic studies at the House Ear Institute. Many ways now. In the test tube we can add bases, insert bases, add genes, and rearrange gene. These new DNA molecules can then be added to living cells and tested to see what happens. Another easy way to manipulate DNA is to breed animals together. A lot of effort is spent on making better cows, milk, pork, and chickens by selectively breeding two animals. Likewise in plants that are important for agriculture.
Cape Fear Academy in NC (9th grade student)
566
How do you suggest entering field of genetics? In other words, what college majors and extracurricular activities are most relevant to the field?
     Courtney Nichols, M.Sc., M.S.: I am a genetic counselor who coordinates research studies that for the genes causing complex genetic diseases such as Hirschsprung disease, autism, and hypertension. I recruit and enroll participants into studies for the laboratory. I also talk with our study participants and others about the genetics of these diseases and goals of the laboratory's research. Many people entering the field of genetics have college degrees in the sciences, such as in biology, molecular biology, or genetics. Extracurricular activities related to the sciences or that provide leadership opportunities are great, but you can do completely unrelated extracurricular activities that you enjoy too. In any field, it's great to be well-rounded!
Taylor in NY (11th grade student)
567
Why do tobacco and other chemicals increase your chances of getting cancer?
     Amber Trivedi, M.S.: I am a cancer and reproductive genetic counselor. In addition to providing clinical care, I lead InformedDNA's programs to educate other health care providers, clients, and the lay population about the significance of clinical genetics. Tobacco and other chemicals cause mutations in our DNA. We acquire mutations to our DNA all the time from environmental exposures, and most of the time our body is able to fix the mutations. However, sometimes cells are unable to correct the mutations, and the altered DNA causes the cell to grow and divide out of control, which leads to the development of a cancerous tumor.
Peru High School in IN (9th grade student)
568
Do you believe in the evolution of humans?
     Shawn Burgess, Ph.D.: Dr. Burgess' laboratory studies developmental processes and their relationship to human genetic disease. Absolutely. The evidence for evolution is very strong and every day gets stronger. We are still evolving and changing, although civilization and improved healthcare has probably altered how humans are evolving.
McCleskey Middle School in GA (7th grade student)
569
McCleskey Middle School in GA (7th grade student)

Information - Moderator Now entering the chat is Larry Brody, Ph.D. His lab investigates the connection between genetics and diseases related to birth defects and cancer.


571
How does the DNA in a cell complete its function?
     Shawn Burgess, Ph.D.: Dr. Burgess' laboratory studies developmental processes and their relationship to human genetic disease. The DNA in the cell has many important functions, but all functions of DNA are modulated by proteins in the cell. The proteins turn genes on and off, they make more DNA so cells can divide and they perform all the metabolic functions of the cells. Ironically all the proteins that perform these functions are encoded in the DNA. A real which came first, the chicken or the egg problem.
McCleskey Middle School in GA (7th grade student)
572
How are specific cells, like muscle cells, different from others in your body?
     Amber Trivedi, M.S.: I am a cancer and reproductive genetic counselor. In addition to providing clinical care, I lead InformedDNA's programs to educate other health care providers, clients, and the lay population about the significance of clinical genetics. Each cell type (e.g. skeletal muscle, smooth muscle, neurons, etc) is uniquely designed to serve a specific function within the body. Therefore the shape of a cell and the way it works depends on the function it is serving.
McCleskey Middle School in GA (7th grade student)
573
L V Hightower High School in TX (11th grade student)
574
If you have a certain disease will someone in your family eventually have it as well?
     Jennifer Sloan, M.S., Ph.D., C.G.C.: I currently provide genetic counseling for patients with a metabolic condition called methylmalonic acidemia enrolled in a research study at the National Institues of Health. Not necessarily-it depends on the disease. Most adult onset diseases such as heart disease and diabetes are caused by both genetic and environmental factors (diet, exercise, smoking etc). So there can be just one person in the family affected with a particular disease. However because genes play a role in many diseases it is important know your medical family history.
L V Hightower High School in TX (12th grade student)
575
Is it posssible to freeze someone with a disease that will kill them later in life then when the cure is discovered ,thaw them out and cure them?
     Kelly Donahue, M.S.: I am a genetic counselor in the Maternal Fetal Medicine Department. I meet with women/couples that are planning to have children or who are already pregnant and have concerns that their baby may have a birth defect or genetic problem. I help them learn about genetics and testing options that can tell them more information about their babies. No- that's sounds like an interesting idea but no... it is not possible to freeze someone and then thaw them out. When a total body is frozen the developed cells no longer function properly.
McCleskey Middle School in GA (7th grade student)
576
Could there be a way to prevent the sporadic mutation of oncogenes or the p53 gene as a preventative measure to lower risks of cancer?
     Larry Brody, Ph.D.: My lab investigates the connection between genetics and diseases related to birth defects and cancer. You are correct, just as there are agents that damage DNA (such as the chemicals in cigarette smoke), the may be chemical that protect DNA from damage. Scientists are looking for such chemicals. Some of them have worked in laboratory experiments. Two of these that looked promising in the lab, vitamin E and beta carotene, have actually been tested is very large studies to see if they prevent cancer. Unfortunately, the results of these studies showed that taking these vitamins did not work to prevent cancer.
Francis Howell North High School in MO (12th grade student)
577
McCleskey Middle School in GA (7th grade student)
578
What's the difference between non-coding DNA and Introns?
     Jeffrey Ohmen, Ph.D.: In my current position, I am responsible for the design, implementation and execution for all genetic studies at the House Ear Institute. There is none. Introns are non-coding DNA that happens to be located between the exons. Intron sequence does end up in the initial RNA molecule transcribed from the DNA. The intron sequence is then spliced out and does not appear in the mature mRNA.
Phoebe (12th grade student)
579
Are moles mutations? And if so is it unusual that my moles do not rise they are just dots.
     Kelly Donahue, M.S.: I am a genetic counselor in the Maternal Fetal Medicine Department. I meet with women/couples that are planning to have children or who are already pregnant and have concerns that their baby may have a birth defect or genetic problem. I help them learn about genetics and testing options that can tell them more information about their babies. No- moles are not mutations. They are simply differences in cell structure and pigmentation. Some moles are flat while others are rounded. Some moles never change and remain constant thoughout a person's life while others may have gene changes that cause them to become cancerous. Therefore, it is always recommended that a person watch their moles for changes over time. A dermatologist can help check a person's moles.
L V Hightower High School in TX (12th grade student)
580
How far do you think humans will be able to evolve?
     Arjun Prasad, Ph.D.: I am a post-doctoral Fellow working in bioinformatics at NHGRI. I'm very much interested in figuring out new ways to use new DNA sequencing technology and computers to learn about how genomes work, evolve, and influence human health. Humans evolve like any other species, but the process is very gradual. Evolution isn't a directed process with an end goal, so the only stopping point for evolution is extinction. What can evolve is constrained by the history and biology, and what changes such as individual mutations can do, but we don't necessarily know ahead of time what will happen.
josephine Crosby in MD (12th grade student)
581
L V Hightower High School in TX (12th grade student)
582
What is Asperger's and what is its variation from regular Austism?
     Kelly Donahue, M.S.: I am a genetic counselor in the Maternal Fetal Medicine Department. I meet with women/couples that are planning to have children or who are already pregnant and have concerns that their baby may have a birth defect or genetic problem. I help them learn about genetics and testing options that can tell them more information about their babies. Asperger's and autism are very similar disorders. In fact, they both are part of a group of disorders called Autism Spectrum Disorders. Overall, Asperger's is felt to be milder that most cases of autism.
L V Hightower High School in TX (11th grade student)
583
How did scientists find out what the process of meiosis looks like?
     Shawn Burgess, Ph.D.: Dr. Burgess' laboratory studies developmental processes and their relationship to human genetic disease. Seeing meiosis in action is actually really hard so much of our understanding of meiosis actually came originally from genetics. Scientists were able to track traits and show that inheritance had to come from a mixture of the two parents, 50% from each. They checked the DNA content in sperm or eggs and were able to show that they had 1/2 as much DNA as all other cells. Only much later were microscopy techniques able to catch up and show this process visually.
McCleskey Middle School in GA (7th grade student)
584
Does frizzy hair come from your DNA?
     Jeffrey Ohmen, Ph.D.: In my current position, I am responsible for the design, implementation and execution for all genetic studies at the House Ear Institute. Absolutely. The keratin molcules that make up your hair have some Sulfer residues present on Cysteine amino acids. These sulfer residues cross link with each other to make the hair kinky. Of course if you wash your hair with soap and blow dry the heck out of it, it will be frizzy also :)
L V Hightower High School in TX (12th grade student)
585
How many diseases can be diagnosed in advance (high OR) by SNPs Microarrays?
     Kelly Donahue, M.S.: I am a genetic counselor in the Maternal Fetal Medicine Department. I meet with women/couples that are planning to have children or who are already pregnant and have concerns that their baby may have a birth defect or genetic problem. I help them learn about genetics and testing options that can tell them more information about their babies. Currently well over 100 different genetic conditions can be reliably diagnosed via SNP microarrays. Such testing can also identify a large volume of genetic changes that may be related (but are not yet proven) to health problems.
University of Glasgow, Virology (Higher Education student)
586
Is there a biotechnology that is faster than DNA microarraying?
     Jeffrey Ohmen, Ph.D.: In my current position, I am responsible for the design, implementation and execution for all genetic studies at the House Ear Institute. What do you mean by faster? Microarrays basically allow for massively parallel analysis of DNA or RNA or protein. There is a new technique called next generation DNA sequencing, that uses image analysis to process even larger numbers of assays in parallel now.
Academy of the Sacred Heart in MI (12th grade student)
587
Can an operation cause genetic defects?
     Amber Trivedi, M.S.: I am a cancer and reproductive genetic counselor. In addition to providing clinical care, I lead InformedDNA's programs to educate other health care providers, clients, and the lay population about the significance of clinical genetics. Operations, and any kind of injury, may cause damage to our DNA. Much of the time our body can repair that damage, and we return back to normal. But other times the damage can't be repaired, and we notice a difference in the area of the injury (e.g. loss of sensation) since our cells aren't working the way they're supposed to. Operations can't cause things like birth defects or genetic syndromes.
Brownsville Area High School in PA (9th grade student)
588
Is it ethical or necessary to clone 16S rRNA sequence in any competent cell?
     Courtney Nichols, M.Sc., M.S.: I am a genetic counselor who coordinates research studies that for the genes causing complex genetic diseases such as Hirschsprung disease, autism, and hypertension. I recruit and enroll participants into studies for the laboratory. I also talk with our study participants and others about the genetics of these diseases and goals of the laboratory's research. The DNA sequence coding for 16S rRNA is often studied to help understand the evolutionary relationships between organisms. It is not necessary to clone it into a competent cell in order to obtain the sequence. I do not know of reasons to clone 16S rRNA into a cell, though there may be reasons that I am not aware of.
Sharda Bhagchandani, SMV Centre for Biotechnology, India (student)
589
Through DNA, can you tell how bad an inheritent disease is?
     Amber Trivedi, M.S.: I am a cancer and reproductive genetic counselor. In addition to providing clinical care, I lead InformedDNA's programs to educate other health care providers, clients, and the lay population about the significance of clinical genetics. Sometimes yes, sometimes no. For certain conditions, there is a correlation between the type of genetic change and how severe the disease is (we call this genotype-phenotype correlation). But for other conditions, there is a lot of variability and it's hard to predict how severe a disease may be. For example, several people with the condition neurofibromatosis type 1 may have the same genetic mutation, but they may have different features or different severity of the disease.
Bednarcik Junior High School in IL (8th grade student)
590
Is homosexuality hereditary?
     Amber Trivedi, M.S.: I am a cancer and reproductive genetic counselor. In addition to providing clinical care, I lead InformedDNA's programs to educate other health care providers, clients, and the lay population about the significance of clinical genetics. It is thought that there are both genetic and environmental factors to homosexuality, and it is not clear which may play a more significant role. The significance of genetics may be stronger in one individual, while environment may have played a stronger role for another individual.
Doug Matt in TX (11th grade student)
591
What is currently the most promising gene delivery therapy in clinical trials or on the market?
     Kelly Donahue, M.S.: I am a genetic counselor in the Maternal Fetal Medicine Department. I meet with women/couples that are planning to have children or who are already pregnant and have concerns that their baby may have a birth defect or genetic problem. I help them learn about genetics and testing options that can tell them more information about their babies. Currently, there are no approved gene therapies on the market. While gene therapy is an area of active research, to date such therapies have not been proven to be successful in clinical trials. To date, the most promising gene delivery system have involved inserting a desired gene into some type of viral system that can be delivered to the human body.
Northwestern University in IL (Higher Education student)
592
Who discovered DNA and how was it discovered?
     Shawn Burgess, Ph.D.: Dr. Burgess' laboratory studies developmental processes and their relationship to human genetic disease. Most people will tell you that James Watson and Francis Crick discovered DNA. That is not true, they discovered the structure of DNA but Friedrich Miescher was the first person to purify the components of DNA (nucleic acids) from cells.
Westview High School in CA (11th grade student)
593
Does hormone replacement therapy cause a significant higher risk for cancer in post-menopausal women?
     Amber Trivedi, M.S.: I am a cancer and reproductive genetic counselor. In addition to providing clinical care, I lead InformedDNA's programs to educate other health care providers, clients, and the lay population about the significance of clinical genetics. Combined hormone replacement therapy (estrogen and progesterone) taken for a long period of time has been associated with increased breast cancer risks in postmenopausal women. However, short-term hormone replacement therapy to relieve menopausal side effects is usually considered safe. Women should ask their doctors to evaluate their individual risk factors to determine whether or not hormone therapy is a good option for them.
Hightower High School in TX (12th grade teacher)
594
What do "Ashkenazi jews" have to do with genetics?
     Larry Brody, Ph.D.: My lab investigates the connection between genetics and diseases related to birth defects and cancer. Just like families can be made up of large numbers of related individuals, some ethnic groups were founded by a small number of individuals. As these groups grew through history, they may still retain some of the specific genetic variants present in those original founding families. This is the case with many different ethnic groups. Ashkenazi Jews, are jewish individuals that trace their ancestors to Europe during the middle ages. There are some genetic diseases that are more common in those with this common ancestry (Tay Sachs disease is one well know example). Geneticists call this the "founder effect". Many other ethnic groups have their own specific founder variants.
L V Hightower High School in TX (12th grade student)
595
Cactus High in AZ (11th grade student)
596
What will come of DNA in the future?
     Shawn Burgess, Ph.D.: Dr. Burgess' laboratory studies developmental processes and their relationship to human genetic disease. DNA will pretty much stay DNA, but our understanding of it gets better and better every day. Predicting where that understanding will lead is very difficult, but it will certainly help us better treat human diseases, improve crops, and understand what makes us human.
Palms Middle School in CA (7th grade student)
597
McCleskey Middle School in GA (7th grade student)
598
Bednarcik Junior High School in IL (8th grade student)
599
Human DNA is 99.90% the same, but is there anything that is 100% different than human DNA?
     Jennifer Sloan, M.S., Ph.D., C.G.C.: I currently provide genetic counseling for patients with a metabolic condition called methylmalonic acidemia enrolled in a research study at the National Institues of Health. DNA is a very long molecule made up of repeating units called nucleotides. The backbone of the nucleotides is the same, but the "bases" attached to the backbone can change. There are four different bases, (A,C,G,T) and that is where all the genetic information for making an organism resides. DNA from different organisms are chemically the same but organized differently. For example, compared to humans, there is more than 95% similarity between related genes in apes and just 85% similarity in mice. For more information about this field of comparative genomics, see this link: http://www.ornl.gov/sci/techresources/Human_Genome/faq/compgen.shtml
Bednarcik Junior High School in IL (8th grade student)
600
Is craniodiaphyseal dysplasia a genetic disorder, and how do you discover it
     Kelly Donahue, M.S.: I am a genetic counselor in the Maternal Fetal Medicine Department. I meet with women/couples that are planning to have children or who are already pregnant and have concerns that their baby may have a birth defect or genetic problem. I help them learn about genetics and testing options that can tell them more information about their babies. Craniodiaphysial dysplasia is an uncommon genetic disorder that causes calcium to build up in the skull. It is caused by changes in a recessive gene- a person must have two changes, one from each parent, to have the condition. It was discovered by evaluating people with the condition.
L V Hightower High School in TX (12th grade student)
601
Other than genetic clinicians, counselors, and researchers, what other type of careers are available in the field of genomics?
     Laura Lyman Rodriguez, Ph.D: I am currently the Director for the Office of Policy, Communications, and Education at the National Human Genome Research Institute (NHGRI), National Institutes of Health (NIH). I works to develop and implement policy for research initiatives at the NHGRI, design communication and outreach strategies to engage the public in genomic science, and prepare health care professionals for the integration of genomic medicine into clinical care. I am particularly interested in the policy and ethics questions related to the inclusion of human research participants in genomics and genetics research and sharing human genomic data through broadly used research resources (e.g., databases). Genomics is expanding into many other fields. In addition to the ones you mentioned, genomics is a field that many companies use to carry out their business. In addition to researchers, they employ computer scientists, business professionals and even lawyers who specialize in genomic information. Genetics and genomics is also now an important part of the criminal justice system where DNA evidence play a role in convicting and acquitting individuals.
Taylor in NY (11th grade student)
602
L V Hightower High School in TX (12th grade student)
603
How much radiation is acceptable before major genetic mutations occur?
     Shawn Burgess, Ph.D.: Dr. Burgess' laboratory studies developmental processes and their relationship to human genetic disease. This is a difficult question to answer because radiation causes mutations randomly. If you are "unlucky" a single x-ray could cause a harmful mutation, and if you are lucky, you could get very high levels of exposure, and the mutations caused will not be harmful. In terms of safety, it is best to avoid any unnecessary or avoidable radiation.
Peru High School in IN (11th grade student)
604
Francis Howell Central High School in MO (11th grade student)
605
Akanksha Ingle, SMV Centre for Biotechnology (student)
606
McCleskey Middle School in GA (7th grade student)
607
With stem cell research on pig and fish eyes, do you think we are getting any closer to being able to repair the human retina?
     Shawn Burgess, Ph.D.: Dr. Burgess' laboratory studies developmental processes and their relationship to human genetic disease. Yes, we are getting closer to understanding how we might repair retinal tissues in humans. But the reality of research is that it is very unpredictable how long it takes for a discovery in say, fish retinal regeneration will translate into a clinical treatment. More and more effort is being placed on speeding discoveries from the lab to the clinic, but it is usually a long and challenging road.
Peru High School in IN (12th grade student)
608
Peru High School in IN (9th grade student)
609
What is difference between a cloned organism and a genetically engineered organism?
     Shannon Kieran, M.S., C.G.C.: As a laboratory genetic counselor I specialize in genome wide scan result interpretation and health care provider education. A cloned organism is an exact DNA replication of another organism. A genetically modified organism is not an exact copy of another organism. A genetically modified organism retains most of its original unique DNA, but may have some of its genes altered. These genes are usually altered for a specific purpose. One example of a genetically modified organism is soybeans, where the majority of soybeans grown in the United States are from genetically modified seeds.
Williamsburg Middle School in VA (7th grade student)
610
Why is it that my little cousin, my brother, and I all look like are older cousin? (He isn't the brother of my little cousin.)
     Jennifer Sloan, M.S., Ph.D., C.G.C.: I currently provide genetic counseling for patients with a metabolic condition called methylmalonic acidemia enrolled in a research study at the National Institues of Health. Interesting question. There may be some families that have distinct traits that are inherited. On average, we share 1/2 of our genes with our siblings and 1/8 of our DNA with our 1st cousins. So in theory someone should look more like their sibling compared to a cousin. But there are many genes and traits that make up a person's appearance.
Peru High School in IN (9th grade student)
611
In case of diagnosis by PCR, which should be targeted: antibiotic resistance genes, housekeeping genes, virulence genes, or simply bacteria genes? If bacteria, then how we can differentiate pathogen from normal bacteria?
     Larry Brody, Ph.D.: My lab investigates the connection between genetics and diseases related to birth defects and cancer. PCR can be used to detect the sequences specific to any of the characteristics that you list. Which you target depends on what you want to know and why. You can answer the pathogen vs normal question easily with two PCR reactions. One reaction should answer the question if the bacteria is present or not and the second reaction should look for the virulence genes (the ones that convert the bacterium from harmless to disease causing.
Sharda Bhagchandani, SMV Centre for Biotechnology, India (teacher)
612
Brownsville Area High School in PA (9th grade student)
613
How are we all different races?
     Shawn Burgess, Ph.D.: Dr. Burgess' laboratory studies developmental processes and their relationship to human genetic disease. Race is really an artificial definition based on human society and is not well supported by genetics. A better way to understand it is that humans are basically the same everywhere, but slight differences in appearance, size, skin color, etc occurs when populations get isolated from each other. Most attributes that people believe are part of race do not usually stand up to scrutiny based on genetics, that is not to say a trait like skin color isn't genetic, but that any single genetic trait isn't specific to a certain race.
McCleskey Middle School in GA (7th grade student)
614
If a base pair was to be changed in someone's DNA, would it suddenly change the features of that person?
     Eleonora Goldberg, Ph.D.: As a medical science liaison, I work to build relationships with leaders in their respective therapeutic areas by providing educational information and offering support for research and clinical trials. I am involved with advisory boards, speaker bureaus, and make scientific presentations to health care practitioners. No, it would not suddenly change the features of that person. Remember we have many cells in our body and just changing one base pair in one cell will not likely have any effect at all. Most of the time, one base pair changes do not have any effects because the change has to occur in an important part of the sequence of the gene to affect gene function, which could then ultimately lead to disease. One example is cancer, where a single mutation in the right area of the DNA sequence may affect that cell's ability to divide in an uncontrolled manner.
Bednarcik Junior High School in IL (8th grade student)
615
McCleskey Middle School in GA (7th grade student)
616
What is the biggest project you have ever done?
     Shawn Burgess, Ph.D.: Dr. Burgess' laboratory studies developmental processes and their relationship to human genetic disease. I am involved in a project to create mutations in each gene in the zebrafish genome (roughly 25,000 genes). I then hope to test all those mutations one at a time to see what effects the mutations have on development and health. I have worked on this for ten years, and will probably work on it for ten more years.
McCleskey Middle School in GA (7th grade student)
617
Lincoln-Way North in IL (9th grade teacher)
618
What are some interesting careers that involve DNA?
     Melanie Hardy, M.S.: I am a second-year student at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro (UNCG) genetic counseling program and co-leader of the Outreach Task Force (OTF) within the Student/New Member SIG in NSGC. The goal of the OTF is to help educate students about the field of genetic counseling, so I hope to provide information for those interested. There are so many careers involving DNA! Genetic researchers study DNA and how it operates in different organisms. Forensic scientists look at DNA to help solve crimes. And there are many, many other careers that involve DNA indirectly - like medical geneticists and genetic counselors.
Bednarcik Junior High School in IL (8th grade student)
619
Ami Lightforks in NJ (7th grade student)
620
Why do some people who are born with epilepsy get over it, while others have it for life?
     Jennifer Sloan, M.S., Ph.D., C.G.C.: I currently provide genetic counseling for patients with a metabolic condition called methylmalonic acidemia enrolled in a research study at the National Institues of Health. Thanks for your question. Around 80% of children outgrow their seizures and the others have a lifelong seizure disorder. It probably depends on the underlying cause of the epilepsy. For example if someone was born with a structural brain malformation they would be less likely to grow out of their seizure disorder.
Peru High School in IN (11th grade student)
621
How do scientist identify different traits?
     Shawn Burgess, Ph.D.: Dr. Burgess' laboratory studies developmental processes and their relationship to human genetic disease. The term "trait" simply means something that can be observed or measured. It could be as simple as hair color or as complex as cholesterol level. If we can measure it, we can study it.
McCleskey Middle School in GA (7th grade student)

Information - Moderator Now entering the chat is Eric Green, M.D., Ph.D. who is currently the Director of the National Human Genome Research Institute (NHGRI) at the National Institutes of Health (NIH), a position that I have held held since late 2009. NHGRI is the largest organization in the world solely dedicated to genomics research. Previously, he was the NHGRI Scientific Director, Chief of the NHGRI Genome Technology Branch, and Director of the NIH Intramural Sequencing Center. Since the early 1990s, he has been extensively involved in efforts to map, sequence, and understand eukaryotic genomes. His work included significant, start-to-finish involvement in the Human Genome Project, and more recently focused on utilizing large-scale DNA sequencing to address important problems in genomics, genetics, and biomedicine.


623
Sharda Bhagchandani, SMV Centre for Biotechnology, India (student)
624
How is it chemically possible for DNA to not be copied correctly when one base can only bind to another and when the amount of hydrogen bonding sites is equal, and is even checked over by the polymerace?
     Larry Brody, Ph.D.: My lab investigates the connection between genetics and diseases related to birth defects and cancer. You are correct, the binding of the bases to their partner base is driven by the hydrogen bonding and other chemical interactions. While specific, this binding sometimes goes wrong (even if this occurs once in 10 millions times, there will be many of these in the 6 billion bases of the human genome). DNA can also be damaged when some of the bases are missing. In this case the polymerase does not have a template to use and may insert the incorrect base.
Westview High School in CA (10th grade student)
625
Bednarcik Junior High School in IL (8th grade student)
626
Brownsville Area High School in PA (9th grade student)
627
What is the most helpful thing about genetic engineering?
     Shawn Burgess, Ph.D.: Dr. Burgess' laboratory studies developmental processes and their relationship to human genetic disease. Genetic engineering has many uses, scientists use it to better understand how plants and animals live, others use it to make more productive crops, or correct genetic diseases. The most "helpful" use depends on who is answering the question!
McCleskey Middle School in GA (7th grade student)
628
Bednarcik Junior High School in IL (8th grade student)
629
McCleskey Middle School in GA (7th grade student)
630
Given what we are finding about gene expression and behavior (some variants are conducive to a greater tendency for specific behaviors or addictions), how will this be interpreted with respect to accountability? Do you think we'll change our pop culture from "The devil made me do it" to "My genes made me do it?"
     Kris Wetterstrand, M.S.: I am the Scientific Liaison to the Director for Extramural Activities. For over ten years I have managed the National Human Genome Research Institute (NHGRI) grant portfolio, having participated in the Large-scale Sequencing Program, which managed the Human Genome Project, and the Human Microbiome Project, an effort to sequence the DNA of microbes (e.g. bacteria) that live in and on humans and the ENCODE Project, an effort to identify functional DNA elements in the human genome. Her background is in population genetics and molecular evolution. This is a very good, provocative question. I don't know the answer, but I think that it is important that no matter what genetic cards a person is given, they are still responsible for there actions.
Lisa Ortuno in SC (Higher Education )
631
McCleskey Middle School in GA (7th grade student)
632
If someone is born with a defect, is it because the order or code in the DNA changed while the baby is still forming?
     Lois Lander, M.S.: I provide information and resources to individuals contacting the Genetic and Rare Diseases Information Center. I create web content for rare and genetic diseases and create fact sheets dealing with multiple topics related to the field of genetics. If someone is born with an abnormality, it can be the result of a change that occurred during development in the womb or even before conception. Chromosome abnormalities, for instance, result from errors in cell division that occur before a baby is even conceived.
Bednarcik Junior High School in IL (8th grade student)
633
University of Molecular biology and bioinformatics (Higher Education )
634
Palms Middle School in CA (7th grade student)
635
Bednarcik Junior High School in IL (8th grade student)
636
Why does DNA form a double helix shape?
     Shawn Burgess, Ph.D.: Dr. Burgess' laboratory studies developmental processes and their relationship to human genetic disease. The way the nucleotides interact (A-T, G-C) makes the rungs of a ladder. Because of how the molecules are attached on the "stringers" of the ladder, it has a natural tendency to twist. If you twisted a ladder, you get a double helix shape exactly like DNA.
Bednarcik Junior High School in IL (8th grade student)
637
Brownsville Area High School in PA (9th grade student)
638
Will it ever be possible to bring extinct animals back to life?
     Larry Brody, Ph.D.: My lab investigates the connection between genetics and diseases related to birth defects and cancer. This could be done in theory but their are many technical problems that make it unlikely. If you could obtain a complete intact copy of the DNA of an extinct animal, you could insert it into an egg of a related living species. The problems are that most ancient DNA has been broken up into small pieces and even if it was intact, we do not know how to get that DNA back into an egg.
Peru High School in IN (11th grade student)
639
The New Hampshire School of Lower Education in NH ()
640
McCleskey Middle School in GA (7th grade student)
641
why are such things as animals used to study DNA?
     Kris Wetterstrand, M.S.: I am the Scientific Liaison to the Director for Extramural Activities. For over ten years I have managed the National Human Genome Research Institute (NHGRI) grant portfolio, having participated in the Large-scale Sequencing Program, which managed the Human Genome Project, and the Human Microbiome Project, an effort to sequence the DNA of microbes (e.g. bacteria) that live in and on humans and the ENCODE Project, an effort to identify functional DNA elements in the human genome. Her background is in population genetics and molecular evolution. Since DNA is the stuff of genetic inheritance (how things are passed down from generation to generation), one needs to be able to breed the experimental test subjects. It is easy to breed multiple generations with lots and lots of children, in controlled experimental ways in things such as fruit flies or laboratory mice. Not so easy to do in humans. Humans might object to that.
Palms Middle School in CA (7th grade student)
642
Palms Middle School in CA (7th grade student)
643
Would you dedicate yourself to studying DNA?
     Tracy Futch, M.S., Ph.D., C.G.C.: I am a genetic counselor working at DNA Direct in San Francisco. I provide genetic counseling as well as guidance and decision support for genomic medicine to patients, providers, and payors. Yes, I have! In high school, I learned about DNA, and realized it is the most awesome molecule! You can study DNA in many different ways, from laboratory research, to treating patients. I've been studying DNA in one form or another for the past 20 years, and seen the field expand tremendously, and I still think it's amazing!
Palms Middle School in CA (7th grade student)
644
Are nucleotides synthesized by cells? If so how could that happen because wouldn't it take a DNA strand to code for the nucloetides in the first place?
     Shannon Kieran, M.S., C.G.C.: As a laboratory genetic counselor I specialize in genome wide scan result interpretation and health care provider education. Yes, nucleotides are synthesized inside of cells. Nucleotides are made of up the building blocks carbon, nitrogen, and oxygen. A single nucleotide can be created inside of a cell through a series of chemical reactions. These reactions are guided by enzymes, and do not require DNA instructions. Once several nucleotides have been synthesized, they can join together to form a nucleic acid (A, T, C, or G), and then be integrated into the genetic code.
McCleskey Middle School in GA (7th grade student)
645
is there any movie on Human genome project or like it
     Larry Brody, Ph.D.: My lab investigates the connection between genetics and diseases related to birth defects and cancer. I do not know of any. The PBS program NOVA produced a documentary in 1991 called Cracking the Code of Life - http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/nova/body/cracking-the-code-of-life.html
Junaid Ahmed: UOMBAB (Higher Education )
646
Is it difficult to take DNA out of one human cell and put it in another cell?
     Shawn Burgess, Ph.D.: Dr. Burgess' laboratory studies developmental processes and their relationship to human genetic disease. Yes, it is a difficult technique, but not impossible. The way it is usually done is to take a very fine needle and suck out the nucleus of one cell and inject it into another cell (that has also had the nucleus removed).
McCleskey Middle School in GA (7th grade student)
647
If a child has a heart defect fairly severe, what are the chances of their children having a heart defect?
     Brandon Colby, M.D.: I am the author of the new book Outsmart Your Genes, the definitive layperson's guide to genetic testing and predictive medicine. I am also the founder and CEO/Medical Director of Existence Genetics, a groundbreaking company that provides the healthcare industry with access to comprehensive and affordable genetic testing services. You can join my genetic testing/predictive medicine facebook community at www.facebook.com/brandoncolbymd I believe you are asking what the chances are of parents having a future children having a heart defect if one of their children is born with a heart defect. This depends on whether the heart defect is genetic or not because not all heart defects may be genetic. If it is genetic, then the risk to future children may be as high as 50% (if it is dominant) or 25% (if it is recessive) or even as low as close to 0% if the mutation arose spontaneously (meaning it was a brand new mutation) in the first child and therefore wasn't passed down from the parents.
carol in IL ()
648
Sharda Bhagchandani, SMV Centre for Biotechnology, India (teacher)
649
L V Hightower High School in TX (12th grade student)
650
What kind of experiments are you doing currently?
     Larry Brody, Ph.D.: My lab investigates the connection between genetics and diseases related to birth defects and cancer. My lab is trying to figure out why some individuals are born with birth defects. We are looking at the DNA of individuals born with defects and comparing this to individuals who do not have these defects. If we find differences we will then try to figure out the function of these gene sequences.
Riverside High School in PA (10th grade student)
651
Is it possible to make a human-dog hybrid?
     Shawn Burgess, Ph.D.: Dr. Burgess' laboratory studies developmental processes and their relationship to human genetic disease. The only way is to be bitten by a werewolf.
Academy of the Sacred Heart in MI (12th grade student)
652
If you would be able to clone humans, would you clone people?
     Melanie Hardy, M.S.: I am a second-year student at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro (UNCG) genetic counseling program and co-leader of the Outreach Task Force (OTF) within the Student/New Member SIG in NSGC. The goal of the OTF is to help educate students about the field of genetic counseling, so I hope to provide information for those interested. If it was completely up to me, I don't think I would. Some people have cited positive uses for human cloning - like helping people to reproduce who can't have children by any other method. However, some people worry that there might be negative side effects to creating human clones. Because we can't possibly know what these are, and I have much concern about the impact on the clone him/herself, I am not yet a fan of the idea of human cloning.
Palms Middle School in CA (7th grade student)
653
L V Hightower High School in TX (11th grade student)
654
Westview High School in CA (12th grade student)
655
What is a difference between ORF and reading frame?
     Lois Lander, M.S.: I provide information and resources to individuals contacting the Genetic and Rare Diseases Information Center. I create web content for rare and genetic diseases and create fact sheets dealing with multiple topics related to the field of genetics. An ORF or open reading frame is a portion of a DNA molecule that, when translated into amino acids, contains no stop codons. The genetic code reads DNA sequences in groups of three base pairs, which means that a double-stranded DNA molecule can read in any of six possible reading frames--three in the forward direction and three in the reverse. A long open reading frame is likely part of a gene. A reading frame is any sequence of messenger RNA that is translated into an amino acid chain, three bases at a time, each triplet sequence coding for a single amino acid.
Tom (Higher Education student)
656
Sharda Bhagchandani, SMV Centre for Biotechnology, India (teacher)
657
What is the best way to describe what DNA is?
     Kris Wetterstrand, M.S.: I am the Scientific Liaison to the Director for Extramural Activities. For over ten years I have managed the National Human Genome Research Institute (NHGRI) grant portfolio, having participated in the Large-scale Sequencing Program, which managed the Human Genome Project, and the Human Microbiome Project, an effort to sequence the DNA of microbes (e.g. bacteria) that live in and on humans and the ENCODE Project, an effort to identify functional DNA elements in the human genome. Her background is in population genetics and molecular evolution. I like to think of it as biology's computer information system. Or if you would rather have a text book answer: DNA is a very long molecule made up of repeating units called nucleotides. The backbone of the nucleotides is the same, but the "bases" attached to the backbone can change. There are four different bases, (A,C,G,T) and that is where all the genetic information for making an organism resides.
Hightower High School in TX (12th grade student)
658
In PCR for disease diagnosis, detecting a pathogen through DNA or detecting a pathogen through mRNA; which one is better?
     Brandon Colby, M.D.: I am the author of the new book Outsmart Your Genes, the definitive layperson's guide to genetic testing and predictive medicine. I am also the founder and CEO/Medical Director of Existence Genetics, a groundbreaking company that provides the healthcare industry with access to comprehensive and affordable genetic testing services. You can join my genetic testing/predictive medicine facebook community at www.facebook.com/brandoncolbymd Excellent question! This really depends on the infectious disease you are trying to diagnose. For example, to detect HIV infection, we test for RNA but to test for Hepatitis B virus, we test for DNA.
Sharda Bhagchandani, SMV Centre for Biotechnology, India (teacher)
659
Which cancer types are caused directly by the action of viruses? Could cancer be an "infection triggered" disease most of the times?
     Larry Brody, Ph.D.: My lab investigates the connection between genetics and diseases related to birth defects and cancer. Human "cancer" is not one disease. There are many types of cancer. Some are caused by exposure to chemicals (lung cancer and cigarette smoke). Others are know to be caused by viruses. One of the most common are the benign tumors we call warts. They are caused by a specific virus. In women, cervical cancer is linked to exposure to a specific virus. This connection is strong enough that being vaccinated against this virus has been shown to prevent cervical cancer.
Universidad Nacional Autonoma de Mexico, UNAM (Higher Education student)
660
Do you know if anyone has used RNAi technology to cure a disease?
     Shawn Burgess, Ph.D.: Dr. Burgess' laboratory studies developmental processes and their relationship to human genetic disease. No disease has been treated by RNAi yet. It is a long and complicated process to take research in the lab and apply it to clinical treatments. It can take tens of years for the first trials to occur after the initial discovery.
Academy of the Sacred Heart in MI (12th grade student)
661
For a particular crude plant extract, if my student is finding inducer effect in lymphocyte culture and inhibitor effect in HeLa, should I predict that extract is having anti-cancer activity?
     Tracy Futch, M.S., Ph.D., C.G.C.: I am a genetic counselor working at DNA Direct in San Francisco. I provide genetic counseling as well as guidance and decision support for genomic medicine to patients, providers, and payors. Thanks for your question! Seeing different results (inducer versus inhibitor effects) in different cell types isn't surprising. Remember that cell culture is a selection process where only the strong survive, and may not be completely representative of what happens in the body. The process of immortalization, as well as repeated culture over many decades (as is the case for HeLa cells) may have significantly changed the properties of those cells. A next step possibly would be to test your hypothesis that the extract has anti-cancer activity on other cancer cell lines, for example. You could find out that the inhibitor effect only occurs in HeLa cells, making the extract less beneficial for a possible therapy.
Sharda Bhagchandani, SMV Centre for Biotechnology, India (teacher)
662
Palms Middle School in CA (7th grade student)
663
How accurate is recombinant DNA?
     Shawn Burgess, Ph.D.: Dr. Burgess' laboratory studies developmental processes and their relationship to human genetic disease. Manipulations of DNA can be very accurate. More often than not, mistakes that occur are human mistakes and not an error of the enzymes and other proteins used to manipulate DNA.
Academy of the Sacred Heart in MI (12th grade student)
664
Bednarcik Junior High School in IL (8th grade student)
665
Despite ethics, would it be possible to switch off genes that code for a genetic disease with multiple genetic tags? If so, would this person be cured of the disease or would they only have moments of good health?
     Kris Wetterstrand, M.S.: I am the Scientific Liaison to the Director for Extramural Activities. For over ten years I have managed the National Human Genome Research Institute (NHGRI) grant portfolio, having participated in the Large-scale Sequencing Program, which managed the Human Genome Project, and the Human Microbiome Project, an effort to sequence the DNA of microbes (e.g. bacteria) that live in and on humans and the ENCODE Project, an effort to identify functional DNA elements in the human genome. Her background is in population genetics and molecular evolution. Anything is theoretical possible. With any disease, researchers hop to figure out what is wrong and then how to fix it. If turning on the mutant gene would work, that would be great.
Peru High School in IN (12th grade student)
666
Do you think human cloning is good or bad for the future? Why?
     Melanie Hardy, M.S.: I am a second-year student at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro (UNCG) genetic counseling program and co-leader of the Outreach Task Force (OTF) within the Student/New Member SIG in NSGC. The goal of the OTF is to help educate students about the field of genetic counseling, so I hope to provide information for those interested. I think there is a possibility that human cloning could be used for a good purpose. However, I also think that to actually perfect the cloning procedure we would have many, many failed attempts first - and those could result terribly for the clones as well as for the people who are trying to make the clone. I don't think that, as of now, the positives of the human cloning process outweigh the negatives.
Palms Middle School in CA (7th grade student)
667
What are the five molecules that make up DNA?
     Lois Lander, M.S.: I provide information and resources to individuals contacting the Genetic and Rare Diseases Information Center. I create web content for rare and genetic diseases and create fact sheets dealing with multiple topics related to the field of genetics. DNA is a very long molecule made up of repeating units called nucleotides. The backbone of the nucleotides is the same, but the "bases" attached to the backbone can change. There are four different bases, (A,C,G,T) and that is where all the genetic information for making an organism resides.
Palms Middle School in CA (7th grade student)
668
What foods have DNA in them?
     Larry Brody, Ph.D.: My lab investigates the connection between genetics and diseases related to birth defects and cancer. All of our food comes from plants and animals, they all have DNA when they are living. Depending on how much the food is processed, nearly all the food we eat has DNA in it.
Palms Middle School in CA (7th grade student)
669
when will we be able to clone organs by themselves?
     Shannon Kieran, M.S., C.G.C.: As a laboratory genetic counselor I specialize in genome wide scan result interpretation and health care provider education. Not yet. There are several techniques used in cloning that would need to be perfected before humans will be able to clone genetically identical organs for transplant. One important aspect to growing a cloned organ is knowing how to instruct the growing cells to become one specific type of tissue, for example: heart or lung tissue. Ethical issues related to cloning aside, science will need to progress beyond where we are today in order to create vital organ clones. However, scientists have been able to grow a human ear on the back of a mouse. You can learn more about how they did that here: http://www.pbs.org/saf/1107/features/body.htm
Palms Middle School in CA (7th grade student)
670
How do small changes in protein lead to such devastating diseases?
     Shawn Burgess, Ph.D.: Dr. Burgess' laboratory studies developmental processes and their relationship to human genetic disease. Sometimes a protein has a very important function (say an enzyme that makes energy for the cell) and one amino acid might be critical for its function. If you changed that single amino acid, it will no longer function properly and energy can't be made in the cell anymore. This is why it is so important that we have two copies of every gene.
Francis Howell North High School in MO (12th grade student)
671
Palms Middle School in CA (7th grade student)
672
Thank you for setting up the DNA chat room this year. Last year I only had students from the Advanced/AP classes asking questions. This year all my Biology students (Basic to AP) were asking questions! This has been a great learning tool and the students really enjoyed it. In fact, some of them were disappointed they didn't get their questions answered. I told them questions would be answered until 6:00 pm and we would look at the transcript on Mon. THANKS AGAIN FOR A GREAT DNA DAY CHAT ROOM!
     Larry Brody, Ph.D.: My lab investigates the connection between genetics and diseases related to birth defects and cancer. Thank you. This type of feedback really makes our day. There's a gang of us sitting in a room answering questions. they are all smiling at your message.
Peru High School in IN (teacher)
673
Why is DNA difficult to destroy?
     Eleonora Goldberg, Ph.D.: As a medical science liaison, I work to build relationships with leaders in their respective therapeutic areas by providing educational information and offering support for research and clinical trials. I am involved with advisory boards, speaker bureaus, and make scientific presentations to health care practitioners. DNA is not necessarily difficult to "destroy." Mutations in DNA must generally occur in genes where they can effect gene/protein function. Actually less than 2 percent of our complete set of DNA, or genome, codes for proteins. The rest has often been referred to as "junk DNA" and changes in the DNA sequence in these areas will not likely make a difference.
Palms Middle School in CA (7th grade student)
674
McCleskey Middle School in GA (7th grade student)
675
Palms Middle School in CA (7th grade student)
676
Can you use RNAi to stop cells from duplicating? If so, can you use it to stop cancer cells from multiplying?
     Shawn Burgess, Ph.D.: Dr. Burgess' laboratory studies developmental processes and their relationship to human genetic disease. Yes it is possible to use RNAi to inhibit the production of genes that would be necessary for cells to divide. This has been done in the lab many times. the trick in treating cancer is to get the RNAi into only the cancer cells without harming other dividing cells in our body.
Francis Howell North High School in MO (12th grade student)
677
Palms Middle School in CA (7th grade student)
678
Sharda Bhagchandani, SMV Centre for Biotechnology, India (teacher)
679
Why is it that most people with blue eyes have bright or lighter blue eyes? I ask because I have blue eyes but the are dark somewhat like a blue saphirre.
     Jessica Sawkins, M.S.: I am a clinical genetic counselor working in a general genetics clinic. I provide genetics evaluation and assessment for patients in prenatal, pediatric, cancer, and general genetics. I have a special interest in cancer genetics and am involved in teaching classes regarding inherited cancer syndromes to patients, participation in high risk clinics for patients with a known inherited susceptibility to cancer, and individual evaluation for patients with a family history of cancer. Eye color is actually more complicated than we think. It is likely a combination of multiple genetic factors that are inherited from our parents that determine what color our eyes are and why there is so much variability.
Peru High School in IN (9th grade student)
680
Do you think that Rosalind Franklin should have been credited with the Nobel prize?
     Larry Brody, Ph.D.: My lab investigates the connection between genetics and diseases related to birth defects and cancer. Historians have looked into this question and many of them have concluded that Rosalind Franklin would have been given the Nobel prize. Unfortunately, Dr. Franklin died before the Nobel prize was awarded. The rules set down for giving out the prize dictate that they be given to a living individual.
Riverside High School in PA (10th grade student)
681
Aside from legal or ethical issues, what scientific barriers prevent cloning humans?
     Shawn Burgess, Ph.D.: Dr. Burgess' laboratory studies developmental processes and their relationship to human genetic disease. Frankly, we don't know what the scientific barriers are because it requires experimental failure to identify the obstacles to overcome and these experiments are impossible to do in humans (justifiably). Given that many different mammals have been cloned at this point, it is certainly very likely that humans could be cloned.
Francis Howell North High School in MO (12th grade student)
682
University of Glasgow, Virology (Higher Education student)
683
Has genetic cloning ever gone so bad that you just had to stop everything that had to do with it?
     Tracy Futch, M.S., Ph.D., C.G.C.: I am a genetic counselor working at DNA Direct in San Francisco. I provide genetic counseling as well as guidance and decision support for genomic medicine to patients, providers, and payors. There have been many cases of cloning where the results haven't been as expected. Typically, when attempting to clone an entire mammal (like Dolly the sheep), there were many attempts that were not successful, where the results were deformed or unable to survive. Cloning can also be done on a smaller scale with less disastrous results (like attempts to clone organs). But at this point, cloning multicellular organisms is something with many many errors before you get to one that is "perfect." Hopefully, as science advances, the secrets of cloning without as much trial and error will be uncovered.
Palms Middle School in CA (7th grade student)
684
Do you think we could use genes to find new energy sources?(ex. using proteins to make power)
     Jessica Sawkins, M.S.: I am a clinical genetic counselor working in a general genetics clinic. I provide genetics evaluation and assessment for patients in prenatal, pediatric, cancer, and general genetics. I have a special interest in cancer genetics and am involved in teaching classes regarding inherited cancer syndromes to patients, participation in high risk clinics for patients with a known inherited susceptibility to cancer, and individual evaluation for patients with a family history of cancer. I think this is an interesting idea! But there is a lot more that we need to understand about how genes work to be able to consider it as a possible source for natural energy. It may be possible one day to use genetics to help with increased production of natural resources that are involved with making power.
McCleskey Middle School in GA (7th grade student)
685
How is the current economy and the budget cuts affecting genetic research?
     Larry Brody, Ph.D.: My lab investigates the connection between genetics and diseases related to birth defects and cancer. Scientists are very worried about the future of research funding. Science is the way we move forward and cutting the amount of funding will slow our progress in many areas.
McDowell Intermediate High School in PA (10th grade teacher)
686
How is the Human Genome Project connected to epigenetics?
     Shawn Burgess, Ph.D.: Dr. Burgess' laboratory studies developmental processes and their relationship to human genetic disease. The Human Genome Project makes studies on epigenetics possible. We now have a complete sequence of the genome that we can use to map where epigenetic modifications are made. Without the original map, it would be impossible to track where the modifications occur.
Phoebe (12th grade student)
687
How does a mutation work? How do mutations occur?
     Shannon Kieran, M.S., C.G.C.: As a laboratory genetic counselor I specialize in genome wide scan result interpretation and health care provider education. A mutation is a change in DNA. Mutations can occur in one of two ways. Mutations can be passed from parent to child (called inherited mutations) or mutations can occur spontaneously in the body (called de novo mutation). Mutations occur when our cells are replicating our DNA, and a mistake is made. Lots of different things can cause de novo DNA mutations, such as radiation (for example from the sun), viruses, and chemicals.
Palms Middle School in CA (7th grade student)
688
Peru High School in IN (9th grade student)
689
Will transgenic animals become more common outside of labs in the future?
     Shawn Burgess, Ph.D.: Dr. Burgess' laboratory studies developmental processes and their relationship to human genetic disease. They are already used in some areas of agriculture (transgenic plants are very common). If we can prove that they are safe and economical, they will be used more and more.
McDowell Intermediate High School in PA (10th grade student)
690
do guys always try geneitic experiments with animals?
     Eleonora Goldberg, Ph.D.: As a medical science liaison, I work to build relationships with leaders in their respective therapeutic areas by providing educational information and offering support for research and clinical trials. I am involved with advisory boards, speaker bureaus, and make scientific presentations to health care practitioners. One of the first genetic experiments were done with plants - remember Gregor Mendel and the pea plant experiments? Actually, many experiments are done in the lab (in vitro). You are right, though, that some genetic experiments are done in animals and they have really advanced our understanding of the science!
Palms Middle School in CA (7th grade student)
691
McCleskey Middle School in GA (7th grade student)
692
When our dog had puppies (5) they all had a different coat color. How is this possible if there were only 3 possible allele variations (according to Mendel's law)? (Both dogs of the parental generation were rescuedogs)
     Kris Wetterstrand, M.S.: I am the Scientific Liaison to the Director for Extramural Activities. For over ten years I have managed the National Human Genome Research Institute (NHGRI) grant portfolio, having participated in the Large-scale Sequencing Program, which managed the Human Genome Project, and the Human Microbiome Project, an effort to sequence the DNA of microbes (e.g. bacteria) that live in and on humans and the ENCODE Project, an effort to identify functional DNA elements in the human genome. Her background is in population genetics and molecular evolution. I think there are many genes involved in coat color, so if the parents were heterozygotes (had two different versions of the gene) then many different genetic assortments (and coat color) could show up in the puppies.
Phoebe (12th grade student)
693
Is a bioinformatician must be a good mathematician or biologist?
     Tracy Futch, M.S., Ph.D., C.G.C.: I am a genetic counselor working at DNA Direct in San Francisco. I provide genetic counseling as well as guidance and decision support for genomic medicine to patients, providers, and payors. A bioinformatician has to be knowledgeable about both biology and mathematics. For example, in order to develop algorithms to handle large amounts of genetic information, you would need to understand what part of the genetic information is useful (ie, coding regions) versus not as useful genetic information (so-called "junk DNA").
University of Molecular biology and bioinformatics (Higher Education )
694
What happens if dnas are extracted from a living body?
     Eleonora Goldberg, Ph.D.: As a medical science liaison, I work to build relationships with leaders in their respective therapeutic areas by providing educational information and offering support for research and clinical trials. I am involved with advisory boards, speaker bureaus, and make scientific presentations to health care practitioners. DNA can be extracted out of cells from all living things, but cannot function unless they are in cells and receiving the proper signals. When you do extract enough DNA, it looks like cotton (pretty cool)!
Palms Middle School in CA (7th grade student)
695
Palms Middle School in CA (7th grade student)
696
Why are genes so important?
     Lois Lander, M.S.: I provide information and resources to individuals contacting the Genetic and Rare Diseases Information Center. I create web content for rare and genetic diseases and create fact sheets dealing with multiple topics related to the field of genetics. Genes are the building blocks of inheritance. Passed from parent to child, they contain instructions for making proteins. If genes don't produce the right proteins or don't produce them correctly, a child can have a genetic disorder.
Palms Middle School in CA (7th grade student)
697
Palms Middle School in CA (7th grade student)
698
What kind of machines do scientists use to find father dna?
     Brandon Colby, M.D.: I am the author of the new book Outsmart Your Genes, the definitive layperson's guide to genetic testing and predictive medicine. I am also the founder and CEO/Medical Director of Existence Genetics, a groundbreaking company that provides the healthcare industry with access to comprehensive and affordable genetic testing services. You can join my genetic testing/predictive medicine facebook community at www.facebook.com/brandoncolbymd I believe you are asking about paternity testing, which means being able to tell whether a child is the child of a particular man. In-order to do this, we primarily use different laboratory techniques and chemicals that compares the DNA of the two people to tell whether they are related (because the DNA from two people who are related, such as father and son, is much more similar than the DNA of two people are not related).
Palms Middle School in CA (7th grade student)
699
How much do you make as a biotechnician?
     Eleonora Goldberg, Ph.D.: As a medical science liaison, I work to build relationships with leaders in their respective therapeutic areas by providing educational information and offering support for research and clinical trials. I am involved with advisory boards, speaker bureaus, and make scientific presentations to health care practitioners. There are a wide range of salaries depending on experience and job duties, as well as where you live. With a science degree, you are not just limited to being a biotechnician, but there are many options for careers in science!
Westview High School in CA (12th grade student)
700
Do you do research in one topic or many genetic topics?
     Melanie Hardy, M.S.: I am a second-year student at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro (UNCG) genetic counseling program and co-leader of the Outreach Task Force (OTF) within the Student/New Member SIG in NSGC. The goal of the OTF is to help educate students about the field of genetic counseling, so I hope to provide information for those interested. I'm a genetic counseling student, so for my degree I did research on recruitment of students to the genetic counseling profession. However, once I graduate I'll begin work in clinical genetics. There is a chance that in my job I might do some research, but I'm not sure what topic, yet.
Williamsburg Middle School in VA (7th grade student)
701
Bednarcik Junior High School in IL (8th grade student)
702
If you knew how to clone something, what kind of materials would you need?
     Shannon Kieran, M.S., C.G.C.: As a laboratory genetic counselor I specialize in genome wide scan result interpretation and health care provider education. In order to try and clone something (such as an animal), you must have a cell from that animal containing the animal's DNA. You must be able to extract that DNA from the cell. Then, that DNA must be placed into an egg cell, designed specifically for reproduction. An electrical current is then passed through that egg to stimulate it, so that it begins replicating and dividing itself. If it divides enough times, it begins to form a clone of the original organism.
Palms Middle School in CA (7th grade student)
703
How do you determine which nitrogen base pair is in DNA?
     Tracy Futch, M.S., Ph.D., C.G.C.: I am a genetic counselor working at DNA Direct in San Francisco. I provide genetic counseling as well as guidance and decision support for genomic medicine to patients, providers, and payors. The technique used to determine which nitrogen base is in a particular piece of DNA is called sequencing. In the "old" days, sequencing was a fairly laborious process. However, technological advances have made it so that DNA can be sequenced in an automated manner rapidly, and fairly cheaply too!
Palms Middle School in CA (7th grade student)
704
McCleskey Middle School in GA (7th grade student)
705
University of Glasgow, Virology (Higher Education student)
706
How does DNA cause mutations?
     Brandon Colby, M.D.: I am the author of the new book Outsmart Your Genes, the definitive layperson's guide to genetic testing and predictive medicine. I am also the founder and CEO/Medical Director of Existence Genetics, a groundbreaking company that provides the healthcare industry with access to comprehensive and affordable genetic testing services. You can join my genetic testing/predictive medicine facebook community at www.facebook.com/brandoncolbymd DNA itself does not cause mutations but instead mutations can occur during DNA replication (when one copy of DNA turns into two copies, such as when one cell turns into two). This is usually a 'mistake' during DNA replication. An interesting fact is that some mutations are good and others are bad. Good mutations can lower a person's risk of a disease while bad mutations increase a person's risk of disease.
Palms Middle School in CA (7th grade student)
707
How and who discovered DNA?
     Lois Lander, M.S.: I provide information and resources to individuals contacting the Genetic and Rare Diseases Information Center. I create web content for rare and genetic diseases and create fact sheets dealing with multiple topics related to the field of genetics. The German biochemist Frederich Miescher first observed DNA in the late 1800s. But nearly a century passed from that discovery until researchers unraveled the structure of the DNA molecule and realized its central importance to biology. For many years, scientists debated which molecule carried life's biological instructions. Most thought that DNA was too simple a molecule to play such a critical role. Instead, they argued that proteins were more likely to carry out this vital function because of their greater complexity and wider variety of forms. The importance of DNA became clear in 1953 thanks to the work of James Watson, Francis Crick, Maurice Wilkins and Rosalind Franklin. By studying X-ray diffraction patterns and building models, the scientists figured out the double helix structure of DNA - a structure that enables it to carry biological information from one generation to the next.
Palms Middle School in CA (7th grade student)
708
We recently watched the BBC movie "The Race for the Double Helix" which portrayed how James Watson and Francis Crick determined the helical structure of DNA. One theme of the movie was that of competition, Watson and Crick seemed motivated by the competitive aspect of it. Should scientific discoveries or research be a race?
     Jessica Sawkins, M.S.: I am a clinical genetic counselor working in a general genetics clinic. I provide genetics evaluation and assessment for patients in prenatal, pediatric, cancer, and general genetics. I have a special interest in cancer genetics and am involved in teaching classes regarding inherited cancer syndromes to patients, participation in high risk clinics for patients with a known inherited susceptibility to cancer, and individual evaluation for patients with a family history of cancer. Being in a "race" or competition can help to drive discoveries, but it is also very important that the science and experiments be done properly to avoid mistakes. It is very important that the conclusions that are made from research be based on good data.
Riverside High School in PA (10th grade teacher)
709
Is good or bad to make clones of animals or humans?
     Melanie Hardy, M.S.: I am a second-year student at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro (UNCG) genetic counseling program and co-leader of the Outreach Task Force (OTF) within the Student/New Member SIG in NSGC. The goal of the OTF is to help educate students about the field of genetic counseling, so I hope to provide information for those interested. Researchers who complete cloning experiments may be able to gather more data about how the genome works from the clones they create. However, they have to go through a lot of trial and error before they are able to generate even one clone, so many people don't like the idea of cloning, especially in humans.
Palms Middle School in CA (7th grade student)
710
Are human DNA simple or complex?
     Shannon Kieran, M.S., C.G.C.: As a laboratory genetic counselor I specialize in genome wide scan result interpretation and health care provider education. Its both! DNA is made up of simple elements such as carbon, nitrogen, and oxygen. However DNA must be arranged in a very particular string of letters (A,T,C,G), which is very complex!
Palms Middle School in CA (7th grade student)
711
How was DNA day invented?
     Melanie Hardy, M.S.: I am a second-year student at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro (UNCG) genetic counseling program and co-leader of the Outreach Task Force (OTF) within the Student/New Member SIG in NSGC. The goal of the OTF is to help educate students about the field of genetic counseling, so I hope to provide information for those interested. National DNA Day, begun in April 2003, celebrates the successful completion of the Human Genome Project and the 50th anniversary of the discovery of DNA's double helix in 1953. We hope to use DNA Day to give people a chance to learn more about genetics - because it's a topic we LOVE to talk about! :)
Palms Middle School in CA (7th grade student)
712
How do you think DNA will affect us in the future?
     Tracy Futch, M.S., Ph.D., C.G.C.: I am a genetic counselor working at DNA Direct in San Francisco. I provide genetic counseling as well as guidance and decision support for genomic medicine to patients, providers, and payors. DNA is the blueprint of who we are, so it will always be important for the survival of the human species. Additionally, specific treatments of disease for an individual can be based on their personal genetic information (so-called "personalized medicine"). This is being used today to identify people who are more likely to have side effects to particular medications, and will become more of a part of health care for all of us in the future.
Palms Middle School in CA (7th grade student)
713
Would we be able to use mutations to our advantage?
     Shannon Kieran, M.S., C.G.C.: As a laboratory genetic counselor I specialize in genome wide scan result interpretation and health care provider education. It is possible that some mutations can help people. For example, some people have DNA mutations that make them resistant to developing certain viral infections. Right now we cannot give people mutations to prevent illness, but in the future anything is possible.
Palms Middle School in CA (7th grade student)
714
Brownsville Area High School in PA (9th grade student)
715
How do you find out the order in which the nitrogen bases are?
     Brandon Colby, M.D.: I am the author of the new book Outsmart Your Genes, the definitive layperson's guide to genetic testing and predictive medicine. I am also the founder and CEO/Medical Director of Existence Genetics, a groundbreaking company that provides the healthcare industry with access to comprehensive and affordable genetic testing services. You can join my genetic testing/predictive medicine facebook community at www.facebook.com/brandoncolbymd There are many ways to find out the order of nitrogen bases in DNA - for example, we can sequence a part of a gene using special gels in the laboratory and then actually read the order just by looking at the gel under special light. Or a computer can be used that can read the order. And, as with many things in life, using a computer to find out the order is much, much faster!
Palms Middle School in CA (7th grade student)
716
What is preventing scientists from taking the smallness gene out of cats and splicing them into tigers, creating mini tigers as pets?
     Larry Brody, Ph.D.: My lab investigates the connection between genetics and diseases related to birth defects and cancer. That would be a cool project. One problem is that we do not yet know how to cut and splice in cat genomes. We might figure this out some day. The harder problem is that the trait of "smallness" is probably controlled by many genes. It is likely that these genes also regulate other things. I suspect that when we start adding or subtracting them from we will also produce sick animals.
Francis Howell Central High School in MO (12th grade student)
717
McCleskey Middle School in GA (7th grade student)
718
How do you think genetic engineering will affect us in 100 years?
     Shannon Kieran, M.S., C.G.C.: As a laboratory genetic counselor I specialize in genome wide scan result interpretation and health care provider education. This is a great question and one that is impossible to answer!! We are only beginning to understand how the genetic engineering of organisms, such as the food we eat, impacts our bodies and our environments. It is possible that in the future genetic engineering will have allowed for the creation of new plants and animals altogether!
Palms Middle School in CA (7th grade student)
719
McCleskey Middle School in GA (7th grade student)
720
What are some examples of universities that offer good genetics education and degree programs?
     Melanie Hardy, M.S.: I am a second-year student at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro (UNCG) genetic counseling program and co-leader of the Outreach Task Force (OTF) within the Student/New Member SIG in NSGC. The goal of the OTF is to help educate students about the field of genetic counseling, so I hope to provide information for those interested. According to the US News and World Report Rankings for top genetics/genomics/bioinformatics schools in 2010: 1. Stanford, 2. MIT, 3. Harvard, 4. UC Berkeley, 5. University of Washington. I think it also depends on what you want to study. General genetics, like in undergrad, would be much different than choosing a graduate school.
Taylor in NY (11th grade student)
721
What is the coolest part about DNA?
     Shawn Burgess, Ph.D.: Dr. Burgess' laboratory studies developmental processes and their relationship to human genetic disease. It is a molecule that can replicate itself (with the help of proteins that are coded in DNA).
Brownsville Area High School in PA (9th grade student)
722
Brownsville Area High School in PA (9th grade student)
723
Would it be possible to access an animal's more primitive genes to de-evolve it into a more primitive form?
     Tracy Futch, M.S., Ph.D., C.G.C.: I am a genetic counselor working at DNA Direct in San Francisco. I provide genetic counseling as well as guidance and decision support for genomic medicine to patients, providers, and payors. In the future, this may be possible. We'd need to be able to identify the more primitive genes as such, and put them together in a way that is compatible with life. In order to do this, we'd need to know a lot more about how to clone animals efficiently and effectively.For now, you'll have to stick to Pokemon to see de-evolution!
Bednarcik Junior High School in IL (8th grade student)
724
Westview High School in CA (9th grade student)
725
When was DNA first discovered?
     Brandon Colby, M.D.: I am the author of the new book Outsmart Your Genes, the definitive layperson's guide to genetic testing and predictive medicine. I am also the founder and CEO/Medical Director of Existence Genetics, a groundbreaking company that provides the healthcare industry with access to comprehensive and affordable genetic testing services. You can join my genetic testing/predictive medicine facebook community at www.facebook.com/brandoncolbymd DNA was actually first discovered all the way back in 1868 by Friedrich Miescher, who referred to it as "nuclein". Chromosomes were then discovered in 1882 by Walther Flemming. And in the early 1950's, Rosalind Franklin, Erwin Chargaff, James Watson, and Francis Crick discovered that the structure of DNA is a 'double helix'.
Westview High School in CA (9th grade student)

Information - Moderator We noticed the questions coming in have slowed down. But please keep sending more questions in. We will be here to answer them till 6:00 P.M. EST.


727
Brownsville Area High School in PA (9th grade student)
728
Palms Middle School in CA (7th grade student)
729
Can you suggest me a topic for my Phd studies?
     Melanie Hardy, M.S.: I am a second-year student at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro (UNCG) genetic counseling program and co-leader of the Outreach Task Force (OTF) within the Student/New Member SIG in NSGC. The goal of the OTF is to help educate students about the field of genetic counseling, so I hope to provide information for those interested. Oh boy, that's a tough one... I think the best advice I have is to read some research papers on topics that interest you and look for the mention of "future directions". That's where researchers discuss questions that were left unanswered by their research - things that you could pursue if you were interested.
University of Molecular biology and bioinformatics (Higher Education )
730
Some virii have single- or double-stranded RNA as their genome. Is there a reason why DNA evolved as the molecule coding our genome instead of RNA, or was it chance?
     Shawn Burgess, Ph.D.: Dr. Burgess' laboratory studies developmental processes and their relationship to human genetic disease. Many scientists who study this area believe that the first information coding molecule of life was RNA. Meaning that RNA based life evolved before DNA based life. DNA is more stable than RNA so it was probably not chance that DNA became the genetic material for most living organisms.
Kenneth Norton, Jr. in PA (10th grade student)
731
Academy of the Sacred Heart in MI (12th grade student)
732
How long does it take to extract dna out of a cell?
     Eleonora Goldberg, Ph.D.: As a medical science liaison, I work to build relationships with leaders in their respective therapeutic areas by providing educational information and offering support for research and clinical trials. I am involved with advisory boards, speaker bureaus, and make scientific presentations to health care practitioners. There are now convenient kits that have all the components and steps necessariy to isolate DNA from a cell. Generally, it takes a few hours to go through the protocol, but then the DNA needs to sit in the refridgerator overnight.
Westview High School in CA (9th grade student)
733
if you can control the hair color of a baby will you be able to control the gender one day too?
     Melanie Hardy, M.S.: I am a second-year student at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro (UNCG) genetic counseling program and co-leader of the Outreach Task Force (OTF) within the Student/New Member SIG in NSGC. The goal of the OTF is to help educate students about the field of genetic counseling, so I hope to provide information for those interested. We can already determine the gender of babies - through preimplantation genetic diagnosis (PGD). PGD involves taking a cell from an embryo, before it's implanted in the mom's uterus, to examine it's DNA. We can tell the gender by looking at whether it has XX or XY chromosomes.
Westview High School in CA (9th grade student)
734
Peru High School in IN (9th grade student)
735
I am having two PCR tubes, one with metagenomic DNA and another with pure genomic DNA, both amplified with universal 16S rRNA. Can I call them as Clone library? If not then what should be my next step?
     Shawn Burgess, Ph.D.: Dr. Burgess' laboratory studies developmental processes and their relationship to human genetic disease. You can call the amplified material a library that represents the starting material. The metagenomic material should have more diverse sequences present than the pure DNA.
Sharda Bhagchandani, SMV Centre for Biotechnology, India (teacher)
736
Do fossilized organisms still retain their DNA?
     Tracy Futch, M.S., Ph.D., C.G.C.: I am a genetic counselor working at DNA Direct in San Francisco. I provide genetic counseling as well as guidance and decision support for genomic medicine to patients, providers, and payors. Yes, some fossilized organisms could still retain their DNA. Remember that it is a rare event for a fossil to be formed, and to also have preserved soft tissue that could contain DNA (such as bones) would be even more rare. However, DNA has been extracted from fossilized early man, as well as from fossilized eggshells from an extinct bird species.
Westview High School in CA (9th grade student)
737
Westview High School in CA (11th grade student)
738
Why isn;t there dna in red blood cells?
     Eleonora Goldberg, Ph.D.: As a medical science liaison, I work to build relationships with leaders in their respective therapeutic areas by providing educational information and offering support for research and clinical trials. I am involved with advisory boards, speaker bureaus, and make scientific presentations to health care practitioners. The nucleus, which contains DNA, is present in the earlier phases of the production of red blood cells (RBC) called erythropoiesis, but it looses it's nucleus as it matures which then allows it to be more flexible so it can pass through the tight quarters of blood vessels and capillaries.
Westview High School in CA (9th grade student)
739
Westview High School in CA (9th grade student)
740
Palms Middle School in CA (7th grade student)
741
Why do identical twins have different DNA as adults?
     Lois Lander, M.S.: I provide information and resources to individuals contacting the Genetic and Rare Diseases Information Center. I create web content for rare and genetic diseases and create fact sheets dealing with multiple topics related to the field of genetics. You may be referring to epigenetic changes which can occur over the course of a person's lifetime. Epigenetic factors are chemical markers that attach to genes and affect how they are expressed. Sometimes they slow or shut down genes; other times they increase a gene's activity. Diet and tobacco smoke can cause these changes. So while the underlying genetic sequence remains unchanged and identical, these epigenetic influences play a role in how the genes are expressed.
Westview High School in CA (10th grade student)
742
Is it possible to make differently colored hair (blue,pink,green,etc)via genetic transplantation? Would the child have the hair color as well?
     Jessica Sawkins, M.S.: I am a clinical genetic counselor working in a general genetics clinic. I provide genetics evaluation and assessment for patients in prenatal, pediatric, cancer, and general genetics. I have a special interest in cancer genetics and am involved in teaching classes regarding inherited cancer syndromes to patients, participation in high risk clinics for patients with a known inherited susceptibility to cancer, and individual evaluation for patients with a family history of cancer. Hair color is determined by melanin. More melanin makes hair darker and less melanin makes it lighter, but it doesn't make it blue or green! there are lots of genes involved in making hair color, so a parent's hair color doesn't always tell us what color hair their child will have.
Westview High School in CA (9th grade student)
743
Can gel electrophoresis be used with animals?
     Tracy Futch, M.S., Ph.D., C.G.C.: I am a genetic counselor working at DNA Direct in San Francisco. I provide genetic counseling as well as guidance and decision support for genomic medicine to patients, providers, and payors. Gel electrophoresis is used to separate differently sized molecules from each other (like DNA, RNA or protein). These molecules can come from any organism, including plants or animals, but first they would need to be extracted from the tissue of interest, typically by a chemical extraction protocol.
Westview High School in CA (10th grade student)
744
University of Mysore, India in ID (Higher Education student)
745
Westview High School in CA (11th grade student)
746
Will we be able to change the DNA of a child before birth, in the future ?
     Larry Brody, Ph.D.: My lab investigates the connection between genetics and diseases related to birth defects and cancer. We might be able to do this in the future but we would probably only consider it to fix some specific diseases. We would want to make sure that changing the DNA did not make things worse for the child.
Palms Middle School in CA (7th grade student)
747
How is DNA made?
     Tracy Futch, M.S., Ph.D., C.G.C.: I am a genetic counselor working at DNA Direct in San Francisco. I provide genetic counseling as well as guidance and decision support for genomic medicine to patients, providers, and payors. DNA is made every day by cells in your body! DNA replication is the process a cell uses to duplicate its DNA in preparation for cell division, so that each daughter cell has the same DNA as the original "mother" cell. The process involves copying the DNA, and there are many different specialized proteins called enzymes that do the work of copying the DNA. Overall, it's amazing how few mistakes this machinery makes!
Westview High School in CA (10th grade student)
748
Can scientists bring back dinasoars using dna?
     Brandon Colby, M.D.: I am the author of the new book Outsmart Your Genes, the definitive layperson's guide to genetic testing and predictive medicine. I am also the founder and CEO/Medical Director of Existence Genetics, a groundbreaking company that provides the healthcare industry with access to comprehensive and affordable genetic testing services. You can join my genetic testing/predictive medicine facebook community at www.facebook.com/brandoncolbymd Theoretically, yes! DNA is very stable over long periods of time, especially when it is frozen in permafrost or encapsulated in a substance (like tree resin) that limits exposure to air. So just like in the movie Jurassic Park, we may very well one day be able to bring back the dinosaurs. For now, however, this is still science fiction.
Westview High School in CA (9th grade student)
749
Can you genetically change your skin color by mutating DNA?
     Eleonora Goldberg, Ph.D.: As a medical science liaison, I work to build relationships with leaders in their respective therapeutic areas by providing educational information and offering support for research and clinical trials. I am involved with advisory boards, speaker bureaus, and make scientific presentations to health care practitioners. Our skin color depends on the amount of melanin created by special cells in our skin called melanocytes. If you spend a lot of time in the sun, more melanin is made and that is how people can tan. Mutations in DNA of these cells can lead to skin cancer called melanoma, as well as other skin diseases. If you were to mutate a cell, it could result in aberrant production of melanin, but it would not be possible to change your skin color that way.
Westview High School in CA (9th grade student)
750
Palms Middle School in CA (7th grade student)
751
how long does DNA live for?
     Lois Lander, M.S.: I provide information and resources to individuals contacting the Genetic and Rare Diseases Information Center. I create web content for rare and genetic diseases and create fact sheets dealing with multiple topics related to the field of genetics. The answer depends on many different factors. DNA itself is a fairly stable molecule. Under the proper circumstances, DNA can last for years or possibly an indefinite amount of time.
Westview High School in CA (9th grade student)
752
Do great people of history share a common trait? Is there a genetic basis?
     Kris Wetterstrand, M.S.: I am the Scientific Liaison to the Director for Extramural Activities. For over ten years I have managed the National Human Genome Research Institute (NHGRI) grant portfolio, having participated in the Large-scale Sequencing Program, which managed the Human Genome Project, and the Human Microbiome Project, an effort to sequence the DNA of microbes (e.g. bacteria) that live in and on humans and the ENCODE Project, an effort to identify functional DNA elements in the human genome. Her background is in population genetics and molecular evolution. It's possible that there are traits related to leadership or intelligence or bravery that are common to some historical figures. But I think that if you asked a bunch of different people what the important traits are, you would get a bunch of different answers. And even if we found that there is a genetic component to these traits, nurture (opportunity, education, etc.) are just as important as genetics.
Rajsb, India ()
753
How close is AIDS to being cured?
     Brandon Colby, M.D.: I am the author of the new book Outsmart Your Genes, the definitive layperson's guide to genetic testing and predictive medicine. I am also the founder and CEO/Medical Director of Existence Genetics, a groundbreaking company that provides the healthcare industry with access to comprehensive and affordable genetic testing services. You can join my genetic testing/predictive medicine facebook community at www.facebook.com/brandoncolbymd HIV (which causes AIDS) has actually ALREADY been cured in one person! This person is known as the "Berlin Patient" and he was cured using genetic technology and a gene called CCR5. Unfortunately, the method used to cure this person is very dangerous and still experimental so it can't be used on everyone just yet - but scientists are working on ways to make it safer so that we can cure HIV throughout the entire world. Using genetic technology, I think this may very well be possible within the next 10 years!
Westview High School in CA (9th grade student)
754
Sharda Bhagchandani, SMV Centre for Biotechnology, India (teacher)
755
Palms Middle School in CA (7th grade student)
756
Can you cut through a base (A,T,C,G) in base pair?
     Eleonora Goldberg, Ph.D.: As a medical science liaison, I work to build relationships with leaders in their respective therapeutic areas by providing educational information and offering support for research and clinical trials. I am involved with advisory boards, speaker bureaus, and make scientific presentations to health care practitioners. DNA is a very long molecule made up of repeating units called nucleotides. The backbone of the nucleotides is the same, but the "bases" attached to the backbone can change. There are four different bases, (A,C,G,T) and that is where all the genetic information for making an organism resides. DNA has a double-helix structure, which resembles a twisted ladder, which makes it possible for each DNA strand to be precisely copied. These copies, which contain the same genetic information as the original DNA strand, can then be passed along to an organism's offspring. The A-T and G-C bonds break apart when being copied, so it is part of the natural process for these bonds to get "cut."
Westview High School in CA (9th grade student)
757
Is it possible for gene therapy to boost athletic or mental performance?
     Melanie Hardy, M.S.: I am a second-year student at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro (UNCG) genetic counseling program and co-leader of the Outreach Task Force (OTF) within the Student/New Member SIG in NSGC. The goal of the OTF is to help educate students about the field of genetic counseling, so I hope to provide information for those interested. Theoretically, this could be possible in the distant future. However, gene therapy is experimental and there are only a handful of ways that researchers are using it.
Westview High School in CA (9th grade student)
758
What would it be like if human DNA was more diverse than just 99.9%
     Tracy Futch, M.S., Ph.D., C.G.C.: I am a genetic counselor working at DNA Direct in San Francisco. I provide genetic counseling as well as guidance and decision support for genomic medicine to patients, providers, and payors. If you look at the DNA from different individuals, their DNA is 99.9% identical. This means that the remaining 0.1% is what causes us to be different from each other on a genetic level. Given that, if there was a population that had more than 0.1% difference from the rest of us, they might look more like the great apes, as chimpanzees are 98-99% identical to humans on the DNA level.
Westview High School in CA (9th grade student)
759
What comes first Genetic Screening or Gene therapy?
     Brandon Colby, M.D.: I am the author of the new book Outsmart Your Genes, the definitive layperson's guide to genetic testing and predictive medicine. I am also the founder and CEO/Medical Director of Existence Genetics, a groundbreaking company that provides the healthcare industry with access to comprehensive and affordable genetic testing services. You can join my genetic testing/predictive medicine facebook community at www.facebook.com/brandoncolbymd Genetic screening comes first, and then gene therapy. We have genetic screening available to us today for hundreds of potential diseases just by testing a small amount of a person's saliva (no blood and no needles!). While genetic screening is currently available, gene therapy is not. Researchers are still working on gene therapy to help treat and cure disease.
Westview High School in CA (10th grade student)
760
Westview High School in CA (Higher Education teacher)
761
How did enzymes get its name?
     Shannon Kieran, M.S., C.G.C.: As a laboratory genetic counselor I specialize in genome wide scan result interpretation and health care provider education. The word enzyme is reported to have come from the Greek word enzume. "En" meaning within and "zume" meaning leaven or yeast. Yeast, which causes dough to rise (in order to make bread), was recognized as a chemical reaction hundreds of years ago.
Westview High School in CA (9th grade student)
762
Can you see the DNA double helix through a microscope?
     Shannon Kieran, M.S., C.G.C.: As a laboratory genetic counselor I specialize in genome wide scan result interpretation and health care provider education. No. DNA in it's double helix form is too small to see through a standard microscope.
Westview High School in CA (9th grade student)
763
Dear Larry Brody: I didnŭt express properly. There are 6 oncogenic viruses known in humans. Do you think that there are more viruses unknown that "trigger" some malignant cancers and do you think this is a frequent possibility?
     Larry Brody, Ph.D.: My lab investigates the connection between genetics and diseases related to birth defects and cancer. Hello Again, You are asking about what we do not yet know. That's why we do research! The association between viruses and cancer has been hypothesized for a long time. The problem is being able to prove the association. There may be tumor viruses still to be discovered. The newest DNA sequencing techniques could potentially be used to discover these. We could sequence the DNA or RNA from a tumor and look for sequences that are not human. This could tell us that viruses are present in the tumor but additional experiments would be required to determine if they actually cause the tumor.
Universidad Nacional Autonoma de Mexico, UNAM (Higher Education student)
764
HOW MUCH INFORMATION CAN A DNA CARRY
     Tracy Futch, M.S., Ph.D., C.G.C.: I am a genetic counselor working at DNA Direct in San Francisco. I provide genetic counseling as well as guidance and decision support for genomic medicine to patients, providers, and payors. Humans have 46 pairs of DNA strands called chromosomes. Each piece of DNA carries important information that tell a cell where to go, what to do, and what to become. The largest pair of human chromosomes (chromosome 1) represents about 8% of the total DNA in the cell. So, chromosome 1 carries almost 1/10 of all the information within a human cell.
McCleskey Middle School in GA (7th grade student)
765
What are the new advances to prevent AIDS?
     Brandon Colby, M.D.: I am the author of the new book Outsmart Your Genes, the definitive layperson's guide to genetic testing and predictive medicine. I am also the founder and CEO/Medical Director of Existence Genetics, a groundbreaking company that provides the healthcare industry with access to comprehensive and affordable genetic testing services. You can join my genetic testing/predictive medicine facebook community at www.facebook.com/brandoncolbymd One of the newest advances uses a gene called CCR5. Some people contain a mutation in this gene that makes them almost immune to HIV infection. Recently, a doctor in Germany transfused bone marrow from a patient with the special HIV-resistant CCR5 mutation into a patient with HIV, and the patient is now HIV negative! This is the first CURE of HIV in the world and is the most exciting new advancement to prevent HIV/AIDS. While this type of cure is too dangerous to give to everyone, scientists are working on ways to make it safer so we can cure HIV throughout the entire world!
Westview High School in CA (9th grade student)
766
What is the most recent recording of a good mutation?
     Shannon Kieran, M.S., C.G.C.: As a laboratory genetic counselor I specialize in genome wide scan result interpretation and health care provider education. Most mutations, such as those providing disease resistance in humans, entered the human genome very, very long ago. So we cant say exactly when the mutation first occurred.
Westview High School in CA (9th grade student)
767
Has a human clone been created yet?
     Brandon Colby, M.D.: I am the author of the new book Outsmart Your Genes, the definitive layperson's guide to genetic testing and predictive medicine. I am also the founder and CEO/Medical Director of Existence Genetics, a groundbreaking company that provides the healthcare industry with access to comprehensive and affordable genetic testing services. You can join my genetic testing/predictive medicine facebook community at www.facebook.com/brandoncolbymd Yes, a human clone has been created - they are called identical twins! However, unlike sheep and other animals, human clones have not yet been created in the laboratory (by scientists) - instead, the only human clones that exist are those created by nature (as identical twins).
Westview High School in CA (10th grade student)
768
what is the reason for dna day being on april15
     Kris Wetterstrand, M.S.: I am the Scientific Liaison to the Director for Extramural Activities. For over ten years I have managed the National Human Genome Research Institute (NHGRI) grant portfolio, having participated in the Large-scale Sequencing Program, which managed the Human Genome Project, and the Human Microbiome Project, an effort to sequence the DNA of microbes (e.g. bacteria) that live in and on humans and the ENCODE Project, an effort to identify functional DNA elements in the human genome. Her background is in population genetics and molecular evolution. National DNA Day, begun in April 2003, celebrates the successful completion of the Human Genome Project and the 50th anniversary of the discovery of DNA's double helix in 1953. Every year, National DNA Day offers an opportunity for students to connect with genetic professionals to learn more about genetic research and career options in the field. We celebrate in the month of April because that is the month that scientific papers were published related to the events described above.
Palms Middle School in CA (7th grade student)
769
HOW IS A DNA SO SMALL BUT CARRY SO MUCH INFORMATION
     Tracy Futch, M.S., Ph.D., C.G.C.: I am a genetic counselor working at DNA Direct in San Francisco. I provide genetic counseling as well as guidance and decision support for genomic medicine to patients, providers, and payors. DNA is a very long molecule made up of repeating units called nucleotides. The backbone of the nucleotides is the same, but the "bases" attached to the backbone can change. There are four different bases, (A,C,G,T) and that is where all the genetic information for making an organism resides.
McCleskey Middle School in GA (7th grade student)
770
How does dna escape the nucleus
     Jessica Sawkins, M.S.: I am a clinical genetic counselor working in a general genetics clinic. I provide genetics evaluation and assessment for patients in prenatal, pediatric, cancer, and general genetics. I have a special interest in cancer genetics and am involved in teaching classes regarding inherited cancer syndromes to patients, participation in high risk clinics for patients with a known inherited susceptibility to cancer, and individual evaluation for patients with a family history of cancer. There is a flow of information from DNA to RNA to protein. DNA transcription happens in the nucleus, it then undergoes RNA processing and splicing in the nulceus. Once the RNA is fully processed (called mRNA), it is transported out of the nucleus to the cytoplasm where the protein is made. There are special proteins that help transport the mRNA from the nucleus to the cytoplasm.
Palms Middle School in CA (7th grade student)
771
Palms Middle School in CA (7th grade student)
772
Westview High School in CA (9th grade student)
773
What is the definition of a scrub?
     Brandon Colby, M.D.: I am the author of the new book Outsmart Your Genes, the definitive layperson's guide to genetic testing and predictive medicine. I am also the founder and CEO/Medical Director of Existence Genetics, a groundbreaking company that provides the healthcare industry with access to comprehensive and affordable genetic testing services. You can join my genetic testing/predictive medicine facebook community at www.facebook.com/brandoncolbymd Scrubs are special shirts and pants worm by doctors (such as surgeons) and nurses and are usually meant to be worn in the operating room where people also scrub before surgery in-order to make sure they remove all dirt and bacteria from their hands. It's a way to try to make sure the patient doesn't get an infection.
Westview High School in AK (5th grade )
774
Sounds like the NIH has many different research projects going on at the same time. How do you decide who gets funding and how much each lab gets?
     Larry Brody, Ph.D.: My lab investigates the connection between genetics and diseases related to birth defects and cancer. NIH supports two kinds of research. Most NIH funding is distributed to researchers at universities and special research institutes. These investigators submit grant proposals and they are evaluated by other scientists (this is called peer review). In the grant the scientists request specific amounts of money. Funding is then given out starting with the most highly ranked applications. The other part of the NIH is the Intramural Program. Scientist in the Intramural carry out research using money allocated to their institute. They too are reviewed by their peers to ensure that their research is addressing important questions and is of high quality.
Peru High School in IN (12th grade student)
775
Does every cell in your body really duplicate the ENTIRE genome during mitosis? This seems inefficient! Also, how long does it take our cells to replicate the whole genome?
     Shannon Kieran, M.S., C.G.C.: As a laboratory genetic counselor I specialize in genome wide scan result interpretation and health care provider education. In theory yes, all of our DNA is being continually replicated. In humans, our cells can replicate 50 nucleic acids per second. But keep in mind that DNA replication does not just start at one end of DNA and go through to the end, it starts at many places along the DNA strand and replicates in segments.
A. Nell Fisher in CO (9th grade student)
776
Westview High School in CA (9th grade student)
777
julie in IL (5th grade )
778
Westview High School in CA (9th grade student)
779
Clemence Memorial in CA (9th grade student)
780
Palms Middle School in CA (7th grade student)
781
Palms Middle School in CA (7th grade student)
782
Is there any way to change your DNA like in your teenage or adult years?
     Eleonora Goldberg, Ph.D.: As a medical science liaison, I work to build relationships with leaders in their respective therapeutic areas by providing educational information and offering support for research and clinical trials. I am involved with advisory boards, speaker bureaus, and make scientific presentations to health care practitioners. Not really. You are who you are! As we age, we do accumulate mutations in our DNA which contribute to diseases we have older in life, but your genetic make up is determined at fertilization (when the egg and sperm meet).
McCleskey Middle School in GA (7th grade student)
783
Bednarcik Junior High School in IL (8th grade student)
784
Francis Howell Central High School in MO (11th grade student)
785
McCleskey Middle School in GA (7th grade student)
786
When paternal leakage happens in mtDNA, is it reproduced in all further cells? This being said, wouldn't the ratio of maternal mtDNA outweigh the paternal?
     Jessica Sawkins, M.S.: I am a clinical genetic counselor working in a general genetics clinic. I provide genetics evaluation and assessment for patients in prenatal, pediatric, cancer, and general genetics. I have a special interest in cancer genetics and am involved in teaching classes regarding inherited cancer syndromes to patients, participation in high risk clinics for patients with a known inherited susceptibility to cancer, and individual evaluation for patients with a family history of cancer. It is very, very rare that paternal mtDNA is passed down to offspring. Most paternal mtDNA is decomposed in the sperm cells or is destroyed by the egg cell during fertilization. If paternal mtDNA is present, there is much more maternal mtDNA present.
Newburgh Free Academy in NY (11th grade student)
787
If my whole family has brown eyes, but I have blue eyes, is that a mutation?
     Brandon Colby, M.D.: I am the author of the new book Outsmart Your Genes, the definitive layperson's guide to genetic testing and predictive medicine. I am also the founder and CEO/Medical Director of Existence Genetics, a groundbreaking company that provides the healthcare industry with access to comprehensive and affordable genetic testing services. You can join my genetic testing/predictive medicine facebook community at www.facebook.com/brandoncolbymd Blue eyes are caused by a change in a gene and are 'recessive' to brown eyes. It doesn't mean you have a new mutation - instead, it means that each of your parents 'carries' a blue eye gene but also has a brown eye gene (which is why they have brown eyes). Each parent, however, only passed down the blue eyed gene to you, which is why you have blue eyes.
Westview High School in CA (11th grade student)
788
Can any epigenetic similarity be observed in particular ethnic group?
     Tracy Futch, M.S., Ph.D., C.G.C.: I am a genetic counselor working at DNA Direct in San Francisco. I provide genetic counseling as well as guidance and decision support for genomic medicine to patients, providers, and payors. The study of epigenetics is a rapidly expanding field. We know there are particular traits and diseases that are more common in particular ethnic groups, and it is likely that not all of these are caused by "traditional" DNA mutations. There is a lot of new research ongoing to identify epigenetic influences and their interaction with ethnicity. For example, studies were published recently investigating the African American population and its higher risk for cardiovascular disease, and if epigenetics could be playing a role. So we hope to learn more as more research emerges.
Sharda Bhagchandani, SMV Centre for Biotechnology, India (teacher)
789
I learned recently that if someone's parents have lived through a famine, that their life expectancy changed depending on if it was the father (longer life expectancy) or mother (shorter life expectancy). What if both parents had lived through a famine?
     Lois Lander, M.S.: I provide information and resources to individuals contacting the Genetic and Rare Diseases Information Center. I create web content for rare and genetic diseases and create fact sheets dealing with multiple topics related to the field of genetics. Life expectancy is influenced by a number of factors. Living through a famine esentially causes the body to adapt, as would many other stressful life events. If both parents lived through the same life event, we would expect that the effect on the offspring would be greater than if just one parent had experienced the event.
Peru High School in IN (9th grade student)
790
When will scientists be able to conduct gene therapy?
     Melanie Hardy, M.S.: I am a second-year student at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro (UNCG) genetic counseling program and co-leader of the Outreach Task Force (OTF) within the Student/New Member SIG in NSGC. The goal of the OTF is to help educate students about the field of genetic counseling, so I hope to provide information for those interested. Many scientists are already conducting gene therapy, but with limited success. The problems include the following: DNA inserted into cells isn't stable, the human immune response can be activated by gene therapy, and there can be other problems associated with using viruses as vectors to deliver new genes.
Palms Middle School in CA (7th grade student)
791
Westview High School in CA (9th grade student)
792
Why can't two different species mate if they have the same number of chromosomes?
     Kris Wetterstrand, M.S.: I am the Scientific Liaison to the Director for Extramural Activities. For over ten years I have managed the National Human Genome Research Institute (NHGRI) grant portfolio, having participated in the Large-scale Sequencing Program, which managed the Human Genome Project, and the Human Microbiome Project, an effort to sequence the DNA of microbes (e.g. bacteria) that live in and on humans and the ENCODE Project, an effort to identify functional DNA elements in the human genome. Her background is in population genetics and molecular evolution. The number of chromosomes isn't the only important factor. Usually different species don't mate for a variety of reasons. In rare situations, mating can occur, like with horses and donkeys, to which I think you refer. In this case, the resulting offspring, a mule, is infertile and that IS due to the different number of chromosomes.
McCleskey Middle School in GA (7th grade student)
793
Is it important to get a genetic data base of each different background genetic population such is Mexican Mestizo population for genomic studies?
     Brandon Colby, M.D.: I am the author of the new book Outsmart Your Genes, the definitive layperson's guide to genetic testing and predictive medicine. I am also the founder and CEO/Medical Director of Existence Genetics, a groundbreaking company that provides the healthcare industry with access to comprehensive and affordable genetic testing services. You can join my genetic testing/predictive medicine facebook community at www.facebook.com/brandoncolbymd Excellent question! Yes, it is very important for us to build genetic databases containing information about different populations and nationalities because sometimes a mutation in a gene may cause an increased risk of disease in one population and not another. Population databases help us understand this type of information.
Universidad Nacional Autonoma de Mexico, UNAM (Higher Education student)
794
Palms Middle School in CA (7th grade student)
795
Westview High School in IL (Higher Education )
796
What is the current news for cloning?
     Melanie Hardy, M.S.: I am a second-year student at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro (UNCG) genetic counseling program and co-leader of the Outreach Task Force (OTF) within the Student/New Member SIG in NSGC. The goal of the OTF is to help educate students about the field of genetic counseling, so I hope to provide information for those interested. There are scientists that are working on cloning animals, and a few have been successful: tadpole, sheep, goat, cow, mouse, pig, cat, etc. There are restrictions on human cloning experimentation.
Palms Middle School in CA (7th grade student)
797
If I have a severe congential heart defect that seems random and my spouse is healthy, what are the odds of my children being born of a heart defect? What about my siblings children? Should they be okay? Also, does that necessarily mean the defect would be as severe or could it vary?
     Brandon Colby, M.D.: I am the author of the new book Outsmart Your Genes, the definitive layperson's guide to genetic testing and predictive medicine. I am also the founder and CEO/Medical Director of Existence Genetics, a groundbreaking company that provides the healthcare industry with access to comprehensive and affordable genetic testing services. You can join my genetic testing/predictive medicine facebook community at www.facebook.com/brandoncolbymd It all matters if the heart defect was caused by a mutation in a gene or not. If it is genetic, then it further depends on whether it is recessive or dominant. If recessive, your children will most likely have a very low risk unless your spouse is a 'carrier'. If dominant, then each child will have a 50% risk of the condition. And yes, the severity could differ.
karl in IL ()
798
Aniket, SMV Centre for Biotechnology (student)
799
When will gene therapy be possible?
     Brandon Colby, M.D.: I am the author of the new book Outsmart Your Genes, the definitive layperson's guide to genetic testing and predictive medicine. I am also the founder and CEO/Medical Director of Existence Genetics, a groundbreaking company that provides the healthcare industry with access to comprehensive and affordable genetic testing services. You can join my genetic testing/predictive medicine facebook community at www.facebook.com/brandoncolbymd Gene therapy has already been tested on people and while it was used to cure a disease, unfortunately many of those people later went on to develop a rare type of cancer. Because of this, more research is needed in-order to make gene therapy safer. I think we will start to see gene therapy approved to treat or cure disease starting in about 5-8 years.
Palms Middle School in CA (7th grade student)
800
Has genetic cloning ever gone so bad that you just had to stop everything that had to do with it?
     Lois Lander, M.S.: I provide information and resources to individuals contacting the Genetic and Rare Diseases Information Center. I create web content for rare and genetic diseases and create fact sheets dealing with multiple topics related to the field of genetics. Cloning continues to be a very expensive and often unsuccessful endeavor. There are many complications that can arise, both during the process and afterwards. Nonetheless, researchers continue to work in this area in the hopes of improving science and creating new opportunities in the future.
Palms Middle School in CA (7th grade student)
801
In males who have an extra Y chromosome (XYY), would both of the Y chromosomes be identical? If not, does this mean that a single male individual could have two distinctly different Y-haplotypes? What are the implications of this for haplotype-based tests like CODIS and genetic genealogy STRs?
     Brandon Colby, M.D.: I am the author of the new book Outsmart Your Genes, the definitive layperson's guide to genetic testing and predictive medicine. I am also the founder and CEO/Medical Director of Existence Genetics, a groundbreaking company that provides the healthcare industry with access to comprehensive and affordable genetic testing services. You can join my genetic testing/predictive medicine facebook community at www.facebook.com/brandoncolbymd In males with an extra Y chromosome, the Y chromosomes are identical.
Mardon Erbland ()
802
What topic is most discussed in genetics?
     Lois Lander, M.S.: I provide information and resources to individuals contacting the Genetic and Rare Diseases Information Center. I create web content for rare and genetic diseases and create fact sheets dealing with multiple topics related to the field of genetics. This is a hard question to answer because there are so many topics to cover! Patterns of inheritance are likely one of the most discussed topics. General dicussion of DNA is also pretty popular.
Palms Middle School in CA (7th grade student)
803
Palms Middle School in CA (7th grade student)
804
Why don't our somatic cells use telomerase? Are cancer cells so hard to kill because they use telomerase? Is there a way of inactivating this?
     Jessica Sawkins, M.S.: I am a clinical genetic counselor working in a general genetics clinic. I provide genetics evaluation and assessment for patients in prenatal, pediatric, cancer, and general genetics. I have a special interest in cancer genetics and am involved in teaching classes regarding inherited cancer syndromes to patients, participation in high risk clinics for patients with a known inherited susceptibility to cancer, and individual evaluation for patients with a family history of cancer. telomerase is highly expressed in cells that divide frequently (for example, cells of the immune system). In most somatic cells, telomerase is expressed at low levels because cell division does not happen very often. You are right that one reason cancer cells can be hard to kill is because telomerase expression is often turned on in cancer cells. There is a lot of reasearch being done to try to target telomerase in cancer cells.
Texas Tech University in TX (Higher Education student)
805
What is the most common illness caused by genetic mistakes?
     Brandon Colby, M.D.: I am the author of the new book Outsmart Your Genes, the definitive layperson's guide to genetic testing and predictive medicine. I am also the founder and CEO/Medical Director of Existence Genetics, a groundbreaking company that provides the healthcare industry with access to comprehensive and affordable genetic testing services. You can join my genetic testing/predictive medicine facebook community at www.facebook.com/brandoncolbymd One of the most common of the common diseases are genetic changes that increase a person's risk of heart attacks. Another common change in a gene (the HFE gene) may increase the amount of iron in a person's blood, causing a condition known as hemochromatosis.
Bednarcik Junior High School in IL (8th grade student)
806
Can cloning ever work?
     Melanie Hardy, M.S.: I am a second-year student at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro (UNCG) genetic counseling program and co-leader of the Outreach Task Force (OTF) within the Student/New Member SIG in NSGC. The goal of the OTF is to help educate students about the field of genetic counseling, so I hope to provide information for those interested. Cloning has worked in many animals (such as sheep, cows, pigs, and cats), and it is theoretically possible in humans. However, scientists have never made a human clone and there are restrictions on human cloning experimentation. So, we won't find out if cloning humans is possible - unless you count identical twins. They are human clones formed by natural processes!
Palms Middle School in CA (7th grade student)
807
Has gene therapy been used on humans yet
     Eleonora Goldberg, Ph.D.: As a medical science liaison, I work to build relationships with leaders in their respective therapeutic areas by providing educational information and offering support for research and clinical trials. I am involved with advisory boards, speaker bureaus, and make scientific presentations to health care practitioners. Yes! It is still an evolving therapy, but it has been done! The first gene therapy patient was a four-year old girl who was treated September 14, 1990 at the NIH Clinical Center because she had adenosine deaminase (ADA) deficiency.
Palms Middle School in CA (7th grade student)
808
When will we be able to use gene therapy as a pratical treament?
     Brandon Colby, M.D.: I am the author of the new book Outsmart Your Genes, the definitive layperson's guide to genetic testing and predictive medicine. I am also the founder and CEO/Medical Director of Existence Genetics, a groundbreaking company that provides the healthcare industry with access to comprehensive and affordable genetic testing services. You can join my genetic testing/predictive medicine facebook community at www.facebook.com/brandoncolbymd Gene therapy has already been used on people in the past but it still isn't safe to be used as a practical treatment. I think it may be only 5-8 years until we can use gene therapy to help prevent or treat many different diseases such as Cystic Fibrosis and Sickle Cell Anemia.
Palms Middle School in CA (7th grade student)
809
Has any more research been done on the "gay gene"? Is there any conclusive evidence proving that homosexuality is genetic?
     Lois Lander, M.S.: I provide information and resources to individuals contacting the Genetic and Rare Diseases Information Center. I create web content for rare and genetic diseases and create fact sheets dealing with multiple topics related to the field of genetics. There is no consensus among scientists about the exact reasons that an individual develops a heterosexual, bisexual, gay, or lesbian orientation. Although much research has examined the possible genetic, hormonal, developmental, social, and cultural influences on sexual orientation, no findings have emerged that permit scientists to conclude that sexual orientation is determined by any particular factor or factors. Many think that nature and nurture both play complex roles; most people experience little or no sense of choice about their sexual orientation.
Francis Howell Central High School in MO (11th grade student)
810
Palms Middle School in CA (7th grade student)
811
Westview High School in CA (10th grade student)

Information - Moderator The chatroom is now closed. You can view the transcript at: http://www.genome.gov/27544125.


813
Why don't our somatic cells use telomerase? Are cancer cells so hard to kill because they use telomerase? Is there a way of inactivating this?
     Brandon Colby, M.D.: I am the author of the new book Outsmart Your Genes, the definitive layperson's guide to genetic testing and predictive medicine. I am also the founder and CEO/Medical Director of Existence Genetics, a groundbreaking company that provides the healthcare industry with access to comprehensive and affordable genetic testing services. You can join my genetic testing/predictive medicine facebook community at www.facebook.com/brandoncolbymd Somatic cells are only supposed to be around for a limited amount of time (they aren't supposed to live forever), so for most somatic cells, nature and evolution didn't give them telomerase to use. Yes, some cancer cells are able to 'turn on' telomerase and this allows them to divide over and over again without harm - and is one of the reasons why they can grow and grow without limitation. And yes again, scientists are working on a way to inactive telomerase in cancer cells.
Texas Tech University in TX (Higher Education student)
814
How long does DNA last in a living thing after it dies?
     Lois Lander, M.S.: I provide information and resources to individuals contacting the Genetic and Rare Diseases Information Center. I create web content for rare and genetic diseases and create fact sheets dealing with multiple topics related to the field of genetics. In some cases, it can last for years. For example, scientists have collected DNA from a mammoth from over 30,000 years ago.
Bednarcik Junior High School in IL (8th grade student)
815
Ethical issues aside, do you think that we should re-clone and ressuerect species that went extinct because of human intervention? Like the Tasmianian Tiger or the Stellar Sea Cow.
     Lois Lander, M.S.: I provide information and resources to individuals contacting the Genetic and Rare Diseases Information Center. I create web content for rare and genetic diseases and create fact sheets dealing with multiple topics related to the field of genetics. Believe it or not, there is a group that is working towards this as a long-term goal. However, there are probably more important things for us to be working on as we learn more about how this science works. At the same time, we should try not to allow any further species to be lost.
Mandarin High School in FL (9th grade student)


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Posted: April 15, 2011