National DNA Day is April 25th and commemorates the day in 1953 when a paper detailing the structure of DNA was published in Nature magazine. It also recognizes the completion of the Human Genome Project in 2003. The Swiss 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. The human genome contains approximately 3 billion of these base pairs, which reside in the 23 pairs of chromosomes within the nucleus of all our cells. Each chromosome contains hundreds to thousands of genes, which carry the instructions for making proteins. Each of the estimated 30,000 genes in the human genome makes an average of three proteins.
Each day during the week leading up to National DNA Day, Monday, April 18th – Friday, April 22nd, and on Monday, April 25th, a different expert will be answering questions on the reddit science community forum: “/r/Science“.
The National Human Genome Research Institute (NHGRI), The American Society of Human Genetics (ASHG) and pgEd are joining forces to bring prominent geneticists from a variety of fields to reddit so you can “Ask Them Anything.”
There are also special discussions on Twitter revolving around DNA Day. National DNA Day’s #DNADay16 Twitter Chat is a moderated discussion led by @DNADay. We will be posing questions to programs involved in genetics/genomics research and education about topics such as career paths, technology development and education. Join in the conversation.
NHGRI will be hosting its inaugural National DNA Day Speaker Series and the theme for this year’s presentation is pop culture and genetics/genomics. NHGRI’s special guest speaker will be Eric P. Spana, Ph.D.
Dr. Spana’s discussion topic is Harry Potter and the Genetics of Wizarding. The event will take place on Monday, April 25th, 2016 from 3:00 p.m. – 4:00 p.m. in Building 35A (Porter Building), Room 640.
This event will be streamed live to the public on GenomeTVLive.
At Family Tree DNA, they celebrate those accomplishments by having a sale on DNA tests for genealogy! Their much-anticipated DNA Day Sale is now under way and will extend through Tuesday, April 26, 2016 (11:59 PM U.S. Central). You can click on the banner to get the special price.
The prices are below, and are valid on new tests and add-ons only. Click on the image to see them full size. Discounts do not combine with existing group discounts. Upgrades will be discounted in June.