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Talking Glossary of Genetics

January 1999

BETHESDA, Md. - The National Human Genome Research Institute (NHGRI) has launched an online multimedia glossary to help people better understand genetic terms and concepts associated with many of the recent advances in genetics. The "talking glossary of genetics" is available publicly on the Internet at www.genome.gov/glossary.cfm.

The project is the first online genetics glossary to combine text, audio and visuals simultaneously in a highly accessible and user-friendly format. Students, teachers, librarians, medical professionals, journalists and others are expected to benefit from the easy-to-understand explanations of key genetics terms.

Featuring nearly 200 terms, the glossary offers handy pronunciation guides, brief text definitions and dozens of richly illustrated diagrams of selected terms. The illustrations can be downloaded and printed without copyright restrictions by any user. Beyond its standard dictionary-style definitions, the glossary also includes in-depth audio clips - spoken explanations - provided by more than two-dozen researchers in the fields of genetics, molecular biology and medicine.

For example, Genome Institute director Dr. Francis Collins describes what a gene is and what it does. Dr. Michael Blaese, a leading researcher in gene therapy, describes how this promising treatment works and the challenges that lie ahead. Dr. Jeffrey Trent, whose research team identified the location of the first major gene that predisposes men for prostate cancer, explains cancer. Similarly, researchers involved in discoveries and research about cystic fibrosis, Parkinson's disease, and techniques such as positional cloning explain these terms in clear, non-technical language.

"It's a bit like having your own private genetics teacher available anytime you wish to explain the definition of genetic terms such as pedigree, DNA or chromosome," said Jeff Witherly, director of the Office of Science, Education and Outreach (OSE) at NHGRI.

Internet users can listen to the researchers in RealAudio, a common sound format compatible with Netscape Navigator, Internet Explorer, and most other browser programs. The sound player is available free at the NHGRI Glossary Web site.

The compact disc version of the complete glossary, in both the Windows and Macintosh formats, can be accessed without making an Internet connection. This version is designed for use in classrooms and libraries.

Offered as a public service, the glossary is one of a number of initiatives aimed at fulfilling the outreach and education mission of the NHGRI. A limited number of compact disc versions will be made available to educators and libraries, free of charge.

The limited edition CD-ROM of the Audio Glossary of Genetics is available free-of-charge to teachers, schools and libraries through NHGRI's Office of Science, Education and Outreach.

Also available on the NHGRI Web site for educators and the public is an eight-hour course in genetics taught for lay persons in cooperation with the Smithsonian Institution, as well as many illustrations and a useful research technique fact sheet.

To request a CD-ROM, please send or fax a letter on your institution's letterhead to the NHGRI Glossary Project. Please include your name and title. There is a limit of one copy per institution.

Jeff Witherly
National Human Genome Research Institute
E-mail: jlw@nhgri.nih.gov

Galen Perry

Last updated: October 13, 2011