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2005 National DNA Day "Teach the Teachers"

Photo of the Teach the Teachers GroupOn March 11, 2005, the National Human Genome Research Institute (NHGRI) gathered 11 high school science teachers in Bethesda, M.D. for the first "Teach the Teachers" workshop to prepare educators for National DNA Day on April 25.

The National Human Genome Research Insitute's (NHGRI) Education and Community Involvement Branch organized the half-day event to provide the teachers with resources to help their students learn about genomic science and its impact on society. In addition to listening to presentations by three leaders in the field of genomics, the teachers took part in hands-on exercises and toured the labs of genomic researchers.

Sharon Terry, president of the Genetic Alliance, an advocacy group for patients and families affected by genetic conditions, spoke to the teachers about "Connecting Genomics to Society." Ms. Terry said that many members of her group are willing to go to schools to share their insights and experiences with genetic diseases, which usually sparks great interest among students. "What a great idea to have a real person touched by genetic diseases speak to us," said one teacher who took part in the workshop. "I would like a consumer to speak at my school."

NHGRI's Deputy Scientific Director Andy Baxevanis, Ph.D., talked about "The Future of Genomics," providing an overview of the Human Genome Project and examining the impact it will have on everything from biology to medicine to ethics. "I was made more aware of the history of the genome project and where NHGRI is headed now," commented one teacher. "I like learning about how it will be applied, as opposed to just the science."

Elaine Ostrander, Ph.D., chief of NHGRI's Cancer Genetics Branch, gave a presentation entitled, "Dog Star Rising: Progress and Promise of the Canine Genome Project." She discussed how comparing the dog genome with the human genome is helping scientists better understand disease processes in both species. Dr. Ostrander's research will be featured on NHGRI's free, on-demand DNA Day webcast on April 25, 2005. (See National DNA Day for more information.).

Following the talks, Belen Hurle, Ph.D., a science educator fellow in the Education and Community Involvement Branch, led the teachers through two, hands-on activities: a DNA extraction from a strawberry, and a DNA modeling activity. The teachers, who were from Maryland and Virginia, then toured NHGRI laboratories, getting a rare, inside look at the cutting-edge research that takes place at the institute.

National DNA Day commemorates the completion of the Human Genome Project in April 2003 and the discovery of DNA's double helix in April 1953. To ensure that the teachers' genomic learning experience continues well beyond 2005 National DNA Day, each educator was paired with a "DNA Day Mentor" - a member of the NHGRI staff who will serve as a scientific resource for the teacher and his or her students throughout the entire school year.

NHGRI's Education and Community Involvement Branch plans to evaluate the "Teach the Teachers" program to assess its impact and build upon its success in future years.


Belen Hurle, Ph.D.
Phone: (301) 402-4931
E-mail: bhurle@mail.nih.gov

Pictured in the Photo: Back: (left to right) Tanya Jenkins-Johnson, Frederick Douglass HS; Shirley Ann Lowery, Suitland School; Zachary Norris, Baltimore Freedom Academy; Erick Brown, Tall Oaks Vocational School; Stephen Stevens, Bladensburg High School; Hovig Artinian, Booker T. Washington Middle School. Middle: (left to right)Belen Hurle, NHGRI; Brooke Bourne, Oxon Hill High School. Front: (left to right) Barbara Bilgre, Washington-Lee High School; Lillian Simmons-Brown, Hebron High School; Clemontene Rountree, Northwestern High School; Angelique Bosse, Montgomery Blair High School.

Last updated: October 19, 2011