Notice: Because the supervisor of 23andMe’s Training and Academia Program, I completely love my job! Not solely do I get to work with inspiring scientists and researchers at 23andMe, I additionally get to work with proficient younger individuals throughout the nation, who’re fascinated by the science of genetics. Over the previous few months, I’ve spoken at many outreach occasions at college campuses throughout the nation to assist college students to type Genetics Golf equipment on their campus. Alongside my journey, I met many inspiring faculty college students, who’ve robust management abilities and deep passions for science communication. So I invited a workforce of scholars to collaborate collectively and co-create a quarterly journal referred to as the DNA Decoder — {a magazine} written by college students, for college kids. The journal is designed to assist college students throughout the nation join with one another and share attention-grabbing concepts round genetics. We in flip wish to share a couple of of these tales with you on 23andMe’s weblog. That is the primary in a collection of tales from our pupil contributors — Thao Do, Ph.D.

By Hannah Ericson

On the fourth Tuesday of every month, members of the DNA Curiosity Group collect on the Iowa Public Library to debate customized genetics testing.

Began by Dr. Bryant McAllister, a professor of genetics and evolution on the College of Iowa, the DNA Curiosity Group meets to assist educate members of the Iowa Metropolis group about customized DNA testing.

Dr. Bryant McAllister, above, explains genetic ideas to Iowa Metropolis group members throughout a DNA Curiosity Group assembly, at an area public library. Photograph courtesy of Hannah Ericson.


Members of the curiosity group come from a variety of ages and backgrounds, intermixing college college students, and folks from the final group.

The group’s mission is to “present a discussion board to discover heredity and humanity by way of private genomics.”

Since its creation early final 12 months, the DNA Curiosity Group works to attach individuals desirous about studying extra about direct-to-consumer DNA checks, reminiscent of these provided by 23andMe,, and different corporations.

Throughout the conferences, a variety of subjects are mentioned. Conversations have handled debunking the widespread myths about genetics, methods to make use of customized DNA testing as a educating software within the classroom, in addition to safety issues arising from utilizing genetic testing providers.


The group additionally sponsors a “Pageant of Genetics” on Nationwide DNA Day. Nationwide DNA Day, held on April 25th yearly, celebrates the completion of the Human Genome Challenge in 2003 together with Watson, Crick, Wilkins, and Franklin’s discovery of the DNA double helix in 1953.

Throughout the pageant, members of the College of Iowa’s Private Genome Studying Heart arrange totally different stations to show group members about genetics, they usually additionally supply assist to anybody with questions on their DNA check outcomes.

Professor’s Perspective

Throughout an interview for an episode of the Discuss of Iowa radio program, Dr. McAllister obtained his first stroke of inspiration to begin the DNA Curiosity Group.

Professor Bryant McAllister..

Whereas on the air, a group member referred to as into this system to ask for assistance on find out how to perceive his DNA check outcomes.

This expertise opened Dr. McAllister’s eyes to the necessity for sources for group members to assist them interpret their genetic check outcomes, and deepen their understanding of genetics.

Sooner or later, Dr. McAllister says, “I wish to broaden outdoors of Iowa Metropolis.

One of many issues I wish to do is to inspire individuals in different biology departments in different schools and universities to do an analogous factor of their communities, constructing the infrastructure and the curiosity outdoors of Iowa Metropolis in order that different biology departments can assist related issues in their very own communities.”

For college kids pondering of beginning a DNA Curiosity Group of their very own, Dr. McAllister has some recommendation.

He recommends, “I’d attempt to get some sort of school buy-in. A college member could be basically a sponsor that helps with a few of the group and making contacts,”as many college students might not have the assist community wanted to begin a venture of this measurement.

After that, he mentioned it’s principally about making an attempt to hook up with different group members or sources, in an effort to achieve extra individuals and to develop the group.

Pupil’s Perspective

Abagail McKernan is a sophomore finding out genetics and biotechnology on the College of Iowa and is a member of the DNA Curiosity Group. She first joined the DNA Curiosity Group by way of her involvement with one other group on the College of Iowa, the Private Genome Studying Heart.

Abagail McKernan

Abagail particularly enjoys having the ability to work together with members of the group, with whom she usually wouldn’t have an opportunity to speak with.

“You wouldn’t suppose individuals, particularly individuals from older era, could be as desirous about it [personalized genomics] as you’re seeing at these conferences,” she says.

Abagail likes that everybody who involves the conferences shares widespread pursuits, and he or she enjoys educating group members on genetics subjects that they will not be utterly accustomed to.

For instance, on DNA day, Abagail held demonstrations on the processes of mitosis and meiosis (totally different ways in which cells bear division) utilizing gummy worms—which contributors had been in a position to eat afterwards.

Abagail plans on persevering with her involvement with the group sooner or later as she thinks that speaking with the general public about science subjects is vital.

For college kids serious about beginning an analogous group, Abagail recommends promoting the group in as many locations all through the group as potential.

This would come with placing up posters all through the group. Because of this, this group would assist educate many group members, which helps foster a higher understanding of scientific subjects in the neighborhood and past.

Hannah Ericson

Hannah Ericson is a sophomore on the College of Iowa, finding out genetics and biotechnology. Exterior of sophistication, she is energetic within the Iowa Comedian Ebook Membership and the fencing membership, in addition to the Private Genome Studying Heart, the place she works to assist educate different college students in addition to most people concerning the world of customized genomics. After graduating, Hannah wish to discover a analysis place in a genetics lab. As a part of the Genetics Training Pupil Management Workforce, she hopes to foster a love of genetics in others, who might not have had a previous alternative to be uncovered to the subject.


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