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Human Genome News Archive Edition

Human Genome News, January 1993; 4(5)

CSHL Workshop Teaches Human Genetics and Genome Analysis to Nonscientists

Human Genetics and Genome Analysis, a workshop planned and carried out by Jan Witkowski (Director, Banbury Center) and David Micklos and Mark Bloom (Director and Assistant Director, DNA Learning Center) was held December 6-9, 1992, at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory (CSHL) on Long Island, New York. The learning center is the world's first science center devoted entirely to public genetics education, and Banbury is the 45-acre site of conferences and courses on molecular biology and on aspects of the biological sciences that bear significant social implications. The workshop, the third in a series sponsored by the DOE Human Genome Program, combined the expertise of the two CSHL units.

This intimate, 24-person workshop was designed for nonscientists who interface with human genetics research and society. Participants from all over the United States included teachers and other educators, editors, writers, congressional and science museum staff, lawyers, physicians, medical ethicists, and representatives of state governments and genetic support groups. Their varied backgrounds and perspectives enriched the learning experience, and attendees agreed that the course would enable them to better understand and represent scientific data.

The three workshop components were as follows:

Concept Seminars. Lectures presented by Banbury and DNA Learning Center staff introduced key concepts fundamental to human genome analysis. Micklos and Witkowski spoke on the Mendelian and modern views of the gene, respectively. Bloom explained how genes are cloned, and Witkowski discussed DNA diagnosis of human genetic diseases.

Feature Seminars. Seminars by working scientists provided insight into the research process. Nancy Press (University of California, Los Angeles Medical Center) spoke on population screening for genetic diseases; Patricia Ward (Baylor College of Medicine) discussed human genetic disease counseling; Kenneth Culver (NIH) described the first human gene therapy trials; and Ronald Davis (Beckman Neuroscience Center, CSHL) spoke of searching for the genetic basis of learning and memory.

Laboratory Work. Hands-on experiments provided direct experience with key techniques of gene analysis:

  • Participants used restriction enzymes to cut DNA from the bacteriophage lambda and analyzed the resulting DNA fragments by agarose gel electrophoresis.
  • A second experiment on bacterial transformation illustrated the direct link between an organism's genetic complement (genotype) and its observable characteristics (phenotype). A gene for antibiotic resistance was introduced into the bacterium Escherichia coli and, following overnight incubation, transformed bacteria were compared with untreated bacteria for their ability to grow in the presence of ampicillin.
  • A third experiment examined DNA polymorphisms that are the basis of forensic DNA fingerprinting and genetic analysis. Participants prepared a sample of their own DNA from cells obtained by saline mouthwash and used the polymerase chain reaction to amplify polymorphic DNA fragments, which were then separated by electrophoresis.

The final workshop of the series was scheduled for February 4-7.

  • Jan Witkowski
    Fax: -0672.

Reported by Anne Adamson and Judy Wyrick
HGMIS, Oak Ridge National Laboratory

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Human Genome Program, U.S. Department of Energy, Human Genome News (v4n5).

Human Genome Project 1990–2003

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.

Human Genome News

Published from 1989 until 2002, this newsletter facilitated HGP communication, helped prevent duplication of research effort, and informed persons interested in genome research.