Science Education: Genetics
Understanding the genetic material DNA and RNA, heredity and variation—that's genetics. Studies in genetics focus on questions like:
- What regulates the activity of genes?
- How does a single fertilized egg develop into a complete organism with hundreds of different cell types?
- What can we learn about ourselves by studying organisms like bacteria, yeast and fruit flies?
Follow the links below to learn more about genetics, including recent discoveries, and read profiles of researchers working in this field.
The New Genetics
Explains the role of genes in health and disease, the basics of DNA and its molecular cousin RNA, and new directions in genetic research.
Computing Genetics from Computing Life
Explores how computing advances are helping scientists uncover new details about diseases, drug treatments and even crimes.
Living Laboratories Poster
Learn about model organisms used in research.
Our bodies keep time with the help of 24-hour "circadian" rhythms, which are directed by genes. Get answers to common questions about how these rhythms work and affect our lives.
RNA interference is a recently discovered mechanism that silences genes. Learn how it works—and how we can harness it to treat disease and study genetic processes.
We're learning important things about health and disease by studying genes in individuals and populations.
Using Model Organisms to Study Health and Disease
The mustard plant, roundworm and fruit fly have taught us a lot about ourselves. Learn more about why scientists study these and other simple organisms.
How a Cell Knows Friend From Foe
Cells are faced with many decisions, including when to treat another cell as an invader. The ability of an organism to distinguish its own cells from those of another is an active area of research.
Our Microbial Menagerie
Here are a few details of what researchers have learned so far about the microorganisms that inhabit us.
Scientists Shine Light on What Triggers REM Sleep
Has the "spring forward" time change left you feeling drowsy? While researchers can't give you back your lost ZZZs, they are unraveling a long-standing mystery about sleep.
A Light on Life's Rhythms
Neuroscientist Cara Altimus studies circadian rhythms in mice to learn how the human brain regulates bodily functions.
The Right Fit
Clinical pharmacist Julie Johnson researches how genes affect the body's response to medicines.
Mountains and Mouse Genes
Biostatistician Gary Churchill studies mouse genetics to link gene combinations to traits.
Cool Video: Re-creating Kidneys
By studying how planarians grow back lost tissue, scientists might move one step closer to replacing diseased or injured human tissue and cells.
Malaria: Natural Selection and New Medicine
Researchers explain the rise of drug-resistant malaria and strategize how to develop vaccines against the disease.
This movie, which shows groups of genes turning on (red) or off (green), helps researchers visualize and interact with experimental data.
Cool Image: Tick Tock, Master Clock
A small molecule called VIP, shown in green, enables time-keeping neurons in the brain's central clock to coordinate daily rhythms that influence sleep patterns, hormone levels, body temperature and appetite.
Healing Wounds, Growing Hair
All the hair you can see on your body is non-living, made up of "dead" cells and protein, and it sprouts from living cells in the skin called hair follicle stem cells (red and orange).
Cool Image: Antioxidant for Damaged Mitochondria
In a mouse model of Huntington's disease, a synthetic antioxidant improved mitochondrial function and suppressed symptoms of the disease.