Science Education

Jargon: Central Dogma of Molecular Biology (That DNA makes RNA which makes proteins)

The central dogma of molecular biology: The idea that, within a cell, information is transcribed from DNA into RNA and is translated from RNA to proteins. The DNA molecule is essentially a book containing the blueprints to make everything; RNA is a short copy of the blueprint that is necessary at a given moment; and … Continue reading

Science Education

Jargon: Molecular Biology (the study of the molecular underpinnings of life)

Molecular Biology: a field of science concerned with the way in which the molecules of life (DNA, RNA, and proteins for the most part) interact, regulate each other, and are modified within a cell. Not merely a subject but also a toolkit of techniques to gather information about biomolecules: the polymerase chain reaction (PCR), blotting, … Continue reading

Science Criticism

Read: 23andMe, Which Bypasses Physicians to Sell Genetic Testing to the Public, Is Told by the FDA to Stop Selling Its DNA Tests

Via @NatureNews, a very interesting article about the fight in the United States over how to best administer genetic testing. The company 23andMe has been selling a 99-dollar service in which your DNA profile reveals your carrier status for a slew of genetic diseases (including cystic fibrosis and Tay-Sachs disease), your expected drug response (e.g. … Continue reading

Science Education

Jargon: Polymorphism (a common variation in the DNA sequence)

Polymorphism: a common and localized variation in the DNA code. For example, if the sequence inside a gene typically reads “…GATTACA…” but many individuals are shown to have “…GATCACA”, the “C” that is normally a “T” is a polymorphism. Polymorphisms occur frequently in the human genome: some are neutral in their effect, some are beneficial, … Continue reading

I Have a Genetic Disease That Neither of My Parents Have. What Gives?
Science Education

I Have a Genetic Disease That Neither of My Parents Have. What Gives?

So, here’s something I don’t understand. I have sickle-cell disease and I’m told it’s a genetic condition, but neither my dad nor my mom have it. Well, genetic inheritance is a bit more complex than most people imagine it to be. There are different “modes” of inheritance. Sickle-cell disease, for example, is transmitted from parents … Continue reading

Science Education

Jargon: Hominids (Great Apes, including us)

Hominids: members of the phylogenetic family Hominidae, which includes chimpanzees, orang-utans, bonobos, gorillas, and humans (as well as extinct related forms). What do hominids have in common? Relatively large bodies, long arms and, importantly, no tail. Hominids can also use their hands to gather food and sometimes to use tools. The prefix “homo-” can mean … Continue reading