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In this issue...
DOE '99 Oakland Highlights
In the News
Ethical, Legal, and Social Issues
Web, Other Resources, Publications
Meeting Calendars & Acronyms
The Ethical, Legal, and Social Issues (ELSI) components of the U.S. Human Genome Project represent the world's largest bioethics undertaking. DOE's ELSI Program focuses on genetic education, privacy, fair use of personal genetic information, and genetics and the workplace. Presentations of two ELSI grantees are reported below.
Revealing DNA Differences
David Micklos (Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory, CSHL) described a program to introduce high school biology teachers to a laboratory-based unit on human DNA polymorphisms, which can be useful in disease diagnosis, forensic identification, and other applications. In addition to teaching the science, the program provides a personal perspective that enhances discussion of the uses and potential abuses of genetic technology. [Ready-to-use teaching kits developed at CSHL to support this program are available through Carolina Biological Supply Company (800/331-5551, http://www.carolina.com).]
Other DOE-funded educational programs initiated at CSHL include a mitochondrial DNA sample-processing service that sequences student DNA samples and posts the data to an Internet-based sequence server (http://www.bioservers.org/bioserver/). Step-by-step directions allow students to use their own data to find related sequences in GenBank, compare themselves to other people, and test whether or not Neanderthal hominids were direct ancestors of modern humans. Micklos demonstrated the Bioform program (http://genepro.cshl.org/bioforms/). With this program, students can analyze mitochondrial sequences to identify the remains of the last Russian czar and his family and determine whether Anna Anderson was the missing princess Anastasia, as she claimed.
Importance of Microbes
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Jeroo Kotval (University of Albany), Cynthia Needham (Microbial Literacy Coll.), Sara Tobin (Stanford)
Microbes can teach people much, since all living things today evolved from them and still share fundamental biological properties with them. Such is the message of Intimate Strangers: Unseen Life on Earth, a four-part science documentary developed for public television with the support of the DOE Human Genome and Microbial programs. Cynthia Needham described this and other educational efforts that make up the Microbial Literacy Collaborative, a partnership of organizations committed to advancing scientific literacy through a focus on the microbial world.
Needham reported on four components of the initiative: the science documentary, a set of 17 hands-on community-based microbial activities, a youth leadership training program for precollege students from traditionally underrepresented communities, and a 12-part telecourse for undergraduates. Intimate Strangers will air on many PBS stations for four consecutive Tuesdays beginning Nov. 9 at 8p.m. (check local listings). Microbe World, an interactive Web site, was designed to build on the themes of all these activities (http://www.microbeworld.org).
The electronic form of the newsletter may be cited in the following style:
Human Genome Program, U.S. Department of Energy, Human Genome News (v10n3-4).
The Human Genome Project (HGP) was an international 13-year effort, 1990 to 2003. Primary goals were to discover the complete set of human genes and make them accessible for further biological study, and determine the complete sequence of DNA bases in the human genome. See Timeline for more HGP history.