Welcome to the wiki for the first-year seminar
The Recreational Genetics marketplace has undergone a massive expansion in recent years. Similar to the telescopes available to the amateur astronomer, sophisticated genetic tools are now available to anyone with an interest in exploring their own genome. For a nominal fee a company will analyze about 0.02% of the sites in your genome, provide you access to the data, and report various interpretations back to you. Many of these same sites are used in human genetic research to identify genes responsible for increased disease risks and for other traits in the human population. Thus, the results of a genetic test have uses beyond providing information on your ancestry and connecting with relatives.
Have you considered doing a DNA test yourself or giving a DNA test as a gift? Have you done a DNA test already, but feel that you have not fully used the results? Do you have an interest in human evolution and genetic variation?
This introductory seminar course will evaluate the science underlying genetic analysis of human genetic variation and ancestry, compare the tests available from the varied companies that dominate the direct-to-consumer genetic marketplace (e.g., Ancestry DNA, Family Tree DNA, The Genographic Project, and 23andMe), and build the knowledge to navigate the results obtained from the analysis of your own DNA sample. To gain the most from this course, a student should be willing to provide a DNA sample that will be sent for analysis by 23andMe. The DNA test is available to you at no cost; however, your results will be available only to you through 23andMe’s website. The content and activities in the course will facilitate your being able to fully utilize your genome data.
Now wait a minute! You want to examine my DNA - as a class project?
Unless you have an identical twin, your DNA is unique to you. Therefore, DNA testing entails privacy concerns and engenders other potential consequences. Providing a sample for DNA testing is optional - you can participate in this course and use the 23andMe website without submitting a test yourself. Before the semester begins consider potential outcomes of DNA testing and discuss with family members your interest in doing a DNA test for this class. The 1st class meeting will focus on considering possible outcomes of testing and evaluating the value of testing versus the potential negative consequences. This YouTube video from a student at Stanford discusses some of the things that you can learn from the analysis of your DNA. The 2nd class meeting will be 'spit day' when consent forms are signed and samples prepared.