Introduction to the Workshop
URLs Provided by Attendees
- Ethical, Legal, and Social Issues
The electronic form of this document may be cited in the following style:
Human Genome Program, U.S. Department of Energy, DOE Human Genome Program Contractor-Grantee Workshop IV, 1994.
Abstracts scanned from text submitted for November 1994 DOE Human Genome Program Contractor-Grantee Workshop. Inaccuracies have not been corrected.
Involvement of High School Students in the Sequencing of the Human Genome
Maureen M. Munn, Maynard V. Olson and Leroy Hood
Department of Molecular Biotechnology, University of Washington, Seattle, WA 98195
We are developing a program that allows high school students to participate directly in the mapping and sequencing of the human genome. This program provides high school teachers with the proper training, equipment, and support to lead their students through the exercise of sequencing small portions of human DNA. Development of this project has been facilitated by our collaboration with six Washington teachers, who advise on experimental design and curriculum development and pilot the program in their classrooms. Besides the hands-on labs, students and their teachers discuss the social and ethical issues emerging as the human genome is mapped. The development of the ELSI curriculum is guided by the expertise of geneticist/medical ethicist, Sharon Durphy, and two genetic counselors, Ann Spencer and Deborah Doyle.
Currently, we are testing two experimental modules, DNA synthesis (an introduction to DNA replication and the techniques used to study it) and DNA sequencing. To allow collaboration among the participating classrooms, we are shotgun sequencing a small human gene, with each classroom contributing the sequence of two or more fragments. This collaborative approach emphasizes to the students their responsibility for careful data analysis.
All laboratory procedures are carried out in the classrooms, using equipment and supplies provided by the program. In the first class period, the students prepare their sequencing reactions, using the Sanger method and single-stranded DNA templates. The following day, they resolve their DNA fragments by denaturing gel electrophoresis on a benchtop apparatus. To avoid the use of radioactivity, the DNA is transferred from the gel to a nylon membrane and stained by an enzymatic reaction that creates a colored image. The resulting sequencing ladders are analyzed by the students. The students then enter their data into a computer data base that allows them to align and compare similar sequences and perform simple analyses such as checking for open reading frames and common repetitive sequences. In addition, they are able to scan the existing sequence data bases using Blast and the e-mail server. More advanced classes will help to assemble the fragments and determine the chromosomal location of our gene.
While we hope the human genome sequencing experience will interest some students in science careers, a broader goal is to encourage high school students to think constructively and creatively about the implications of scientific findings so that the coming generation of adults will make judicious decisions affecting public policies.
This work is sponsored by the U.S Department of Energy under grant No. DE-FG06-94ER61798.