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Doctors are just now learning how to use the information in a person’s genome. ” Answers were insightful, optimistic, and proactive, with the students realizing that knowledge of personal genetic information would enable individuals to live in ways that would minimize inherited tendencies towards certain diseases.
The first-place winner will receive $1,000; second place, $600; third place, $400; honorable mention, 10 prizes of $100.
To enter, students must write an essay of no more than 750 words (including in-text citations) that addresses the following scenario: Choose a genetic test that is currently available for a condition or disease that does not cause symptoms until adulthood (i.e., an adult-onset condition such as hereditary breast cancer).
Another student did the opposite — chose a trait thought of as mostly environmental and discussed the contribution of a single gene: language ability and the gene.
“Language owes its potency to its remarkable malleability; it possesses innate grammar encoded in genes and their transcriptional targets, but its phenotypic capacity is still determined by environmental language acquisition,” the student wrote.
Environmental influences on dementia are not well understood. Some “rounded up the usual suspects” among complex traits, such as autism, obesity, and type 2 diabetes, but a few were highly original.
One student chose Huntington disease, which would seem an unlikely candidate for a complex trait because penetrance is close to 100 percent – if you inherit a mutation, you’ll eventually get HD, unless something else gets you first.
“Contact with Europeans had a devastating impact on South American populations, such as the introduction of disease, war and social disruption,” said Lindo, via an ASHG statement.
“By focusing on the period before that, we were able to distinguish environmental adaptation from adaptations that stemmed from historical events.” The seven Andeans did not have increased genetic markers coding for amylase to digest starches, like Europeans developed thousands of years ago.
The winning essay, by Gurjeet Johal, a senior at the High School for Health Professions & Human Services in Manhattan, movingly wrote of her family’s experience with Lewy body dementia.
“Having already witnessed the effects of such a disease on my grandfather’s life, I would not want to be informed of my chances of developing it.