University of Nebraska Medical Center

D-N-A? More like D-N-YAY! Celebrate National DNA Day!

Celebrate DNA Day graphic

written by 2nd-year genetic counseling students Mitch McElfresh, Elizabeth Reese, and Kylie LaBouve

Have you heard? Today is DNA Day! Soon to be genetic counselors Mitch, Lizz, and Kylie are excited to help you celebrate. Here’s what you need to know!

What is National DNA Day?
National DNA Day is recognized every year on the 25th of April. DNA Day is celebrated to remember the discovery of DNA’s double helix structure in 1953 and the completion of the Human Genome Project in 2003. DNA Day provides the opportunity for people of all ages to engage in learning about the newest knowledge, research, and technology within the world of genomics. Learn more about DNA Day from the National Human Genome Research Institute (NHGRI) at National DNA Day (genome.gov).

What is DNA?
DNA stands for deoxyribonucleic acid and is made up of sugar, phosphate, and four different nitrogenous bases. DNA has a double-helix shape, which looks like a twisted ladder. The “ladder rungs” of DNA are made of the nitrogenous bases named Adenine, Guanine, Cytosine, and Thymine or A, G, C, and T for short. DNA makes up our genes, and our genes tell our bodies how to grow, develop, and function!

What is the Human Genome Project?
This was a huge, approximately three-billion-dollar project completed by scientists from across the globe between 1990 and 2003. Its goal was to sequence – or to spell out – the entire code of human DNA by determining the order of all the As, Cs, Gs, and Ts that are the DNA building blocks. By 2003, 92% of the human genome was sequenced. The final sequence was completed by a group called Telomere-to-Telomere in 2022. This is fundamental information about the blueprint for humans and is crucial information for understanding and advancing medicine.

Why Should You Care?
Our understanding of genetics impacts us all! We are learning more about our genes every day and how they impact our health. Knowing more about our DNA will positively impact individuals, families, and communities across the world. Celebrating DNA Day helps put a spotlight on the latest and greatest research and advancements in genetics!

How Can You Spread Awareness?
Spreading awareness about DNA is both fun and educational. One effective way to celebrate DNA Day is to leverage online platforms like YouTube, where archived videos of DNA Day lectures are available courtesy of the NHGRI (National DNA Day Playlist (youtube.com)). These videos offer valuable insights on various topics in genomics including DNA sequencing, genome editing, rare genetic diseases, and pharmacogenomics. For those seeking more hands-on experiences, the NHGRI has a page for DNA Day activities like strawberry DNA extraction, DNA helix origami, and modules for classroom outreach (DNA Day Activity Ideas (genome.gov)). It is even possible to host your own DNA Day events with support from the NHGRI. By registering your event online, you can receive resources like the DNA Day starter kit which offers template posters and flyers (Register Your DNA Day Event (genome.gov)).

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