Genetics

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Genetics (4:02)

“Genetics is about the study of genes. And the genomics is the study of our entire genome. We are all made up of trillions of cells. Each cell has within it a nucleus, and the nucleus carries our chromosomes. And humans have 46 chromosomes, 23 from mom, 23 from dad. And together they make what is called our genome.”

Role models in order of appearance: Tara Maddala, Preethi Gunaratne, Susan Baxter, Danielle Hankinson, Supriya Shivakumar, and Erika Thompson.

Video Transcript

If you had a disease and I said, “If you got this shot, then you’d have a 40% chance of the disease going away.” Then what if I told you that I’ve discovered a gene and that gene, if you have expression of this gene, you have a 90% chance of that disease going away. So that’s the kind of decisions that we try to help influence every day with the work that we do. Which genes matter in breast cancer? Which genes matter in prostate cancer?

Genetics is about the study of genes. And the genomics is the study of our entire genome. We are all made up of trillions of cells. Each cell has within it a nucleus, and the nucleus carries our chromosomes. And humans have 46 chromosomes, 23 from mom, 23 from dad. And together they make what is called our genome.

Genomics is the systemwide study of all the genes and their interactions in response to environmental change, in response to disease, or normal. So it’s getting that whole genome-wide view of something, the DNA, the genes, the proteins, the transcriptional factors that whole systems overlook.

DNA stands for deoxyribonucleic acid, and DNA is in all of the cells of our body. You can think of it as a blueprint for life. So DNA codes for things like eye color and hair color, but it also tells our bodies how to function. 99% of our DNA is actually the same, which is why we all have two arms and two legs. But there’s 1% of our DNA that’s different. And these areas don’t actually code for anything, but they differ among all of us based on the size of the pieces of DNA.

If you have a gene and it has a normal role, so it normally tells the cell to grow, or it normally tells the cell, you’re going to become different from me. You’re going to become a kidney cell or something like that. I want to understand how that development piece worked. So how did a cell decide, this is what it’s going to be? And why would you have the same gene in a human and a worm where in the human, it’s responsible for brain development, and worms, they have a very little brain?

If you take your genome, every gene is there, and every gene has a possibility. In order to make a human being or any organism, every cell in every part of your body has the entire genome. And then your cell has to become something that’s called the phenotype. And so you’re either kidney cell or heart cell or whatever. And that requires those genes in your genome that makes a heart get activated and converted into RNA, the Ribonucleic [inaudible], and then converted into protein. And that’s called gene expression. It’s expressing your potential.

There’s tons of data out there. It’s getting more and more prevalent because you have the internet type of data, and then you have, with the mapping of the human genome, all this genomic data that we have to make sense of.

Next-generation sequencing is going to lead us to a point where every individual will be able to have their genome sequenced, and based on their genetic profile, a physician will be able to recommend a particular medicine that works for that individual. That same medication may not work well for their neighbor who has the same condition but based on their genetic profile, the medication will be recommended. A particular therapy may be recommended based on their genetic profile. And so these technologies are getting us to that personalized medicine error.

Discussion Guide

Independent Learning Guide: This all-purpose guide can also be used by educators, parents, and mentors to jumpstart a valuable discussion about genetics and its role in health and medicine.

Classroom Lesson Plan

Classroom Lesson Plan: This step-by-step lesson plan is available to guide a more in-depth “before, during, and after” learning experience when viewing the video with students. This lesson plan is also suitable for use in after-school programs and other educational settings.

Fun Page Activity

Fun Page Activity: What influence do your genes really have on you? You might be surprised to find out! Use this activity to learn about the traits influenced by your genetics and the parts of yourself that have nothing to do with your genes.