On Friday April 24th, ISG celebrated National DNA Day by hosting an educational event for nearly 100 local high school students from the King Drew Magnet High School of Medicine and Science.
Many of the students participating in the DNA Day event were from the “UCLA in L.A.” pilot program that ISG currently has in place at the King Drew High School. This program brings interdisciplinary, collaborative genetics curriculum to local high school students and teachers in an attempt to achieve several educational goals, including: educating students and teachers in the local community on issues related to society and genetics (such as the promises and controversies surrounding genetic technologies), broadening the discussion about these issues to a more diverse spectrum of voices, and beginning the pipeline of education at the high school level by exposing students to various topics and issues related to human genetics and personalized medicine. ISG Co-Director and current president of the American Society of Human Genetics, Dr. Edward McCabe, welcomed the students and spoke to them about the historical reasons for celebrating DNA Day and how this directly impacts their lives. He explained that their participation in discussions about genetics, as with all communities, is crucial to enabling the practice of personalized medicine, which will serve to benefit all populations. The high school students who attended the Institute’s DNA Day event were also introduced to other human genetics topics and issues related to cloning, stem cell research and genetic discrimination through a series of breakout groups. These smaller groups encouraged students to participate in discussions by thinking about questions such as whether they would undergo genetic testing for diseases where no treatment is currently available. The day concluded with a panel of four undergraduate UCLA students who spoke to the high school students about college life and the college admissions process.