News Release

Monday, April 17, 2006

Genomic Researchers Head To New England Schools for National DNA Day

Celebration Encourages Exploration of Genomic Careers.

On April 25, the fourth annual National DNA Day, researchers and professionals from the National Human Genome Research Institute (NHGRI), part of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), will serve as “DNA Day Ambassadors” and fan out across the nation, with an emphasis this year on New England, to visit dozens of high school classrooms to talk with students about genomic research and their personal experiences in this revolutionary field of science. Ambassadors will pay visits to their hometown schools around the nation, but many of the ambassadors will be concentrated in New England.

National DNA Day, begun in April 2003, commemorates the successful completion of the Human Genome Project and the anniversary of the discovery of DNA's double helix in 1953. It is an opportunity to connect classroom students to genetics professionals, both to engage and excite the students about genetics and also to inform them of career options in the field.

“The large amount of data being generated by genomics research is creating numerous opportunities for a new generation of students trained in everything from molecular biology to computer science to bioethics. National DNA Day allows students to learn from real-life genome researchers how they can join in the effort to use genomics to improve human health," said Vence Bonham, J.D., chief of NHGRI's Education and Community Involvement Branch.

Approximately 45 schools across New England were chosen to host DNA Day Ambassadors in April as part of National DNA Day. Schools range from those in Boston and Providence to those in the northern parts of Vermont and Maine. The backgrounds of ambassadors are equally diverse, from basic science and clinical researchers, to those that study social and behavioral genetics. While the majority of ambassadors will visit New England, others will spread out across the nation, sharing their unique perspectives on genomic research with students. A state-by-state list of NHGRI’s DNA Day Ambassadors and their school is available at

The American Society of Human Genetics has partnered with NHGRI and will enlist genetic experts in their Genetic Mentorship Network to speak at schools in their own area, often in collaboration with NHGRI’s DNA Day Ambassadors. This will provide teachers with researchers located in their area who can be used as a resource throughout the school year.

National DNA Day events are a collaboration of NHGRI, the American Society of Human Genetics, the Genetics Society of America, the Genetic Alliance and the National Society of Genetic Counselors. This year, even more groups have been getting involved, such as researchers from the University of Vermont.

“This is a wonderful opportunity for our researchers to engage students in our community and get them excited about pursing careers in genetic and genomic research,” said Tim Hunter, Manager, Vermont Cancer Center DNA Analysis Facility and UVM Microarray Facility, University of Vermont.

Teachers and students throughout the nation can also celebrate National DNA Day by tuning in to a new, multimedia webcast presentation called “Genomics: Towards a Healthier You” featuring Barbara Biesecker, a genetic counselor at NHGRI. The webcast will present information on why genetics is important to health, as well as information on genetic counseling as a career. Biesecker’s presentation also will be offered as a video podcast for the first time on the NHGRI website,

NHGRI will host a live, moderated online chat with NHGRI researchers from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Eastern time on April 25. Experts will be on hand to field questions from students on a wide range of topics, including basic science, clinical research, genomic careers and the ethical, legal and social implications of genomic research. For those unable to participate in the live event, a transcript of the chat will be available on the DNA Day Web site.

The webcasts, live online chat, and a variety of free, educational tools on genetics and genomics, are available for teachers and students at

NHGRI is one of the 27 institutes and centers at the NIH, an agency of the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS). Additional information about NHGRI can be found at its Web site,

About the National Institutes of Health (NIH): NIH, the nation's medical research agency, includes 27 Institutes and Centers and is a component of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. NIH is the primary federal agency conducting and supporting basic, clinical, and translational medical research, and is investigating the causes, treatments, and cures for both common and rare diseases. For more information about NIH and its programs, visit

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