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ASHG hosts fourth annual DNA Day essay contest, supports genetics education efforts
Date:4/28/2009

rn scientific understanding with John Locke's philosophical construct that humans are born as a 'tabula rasa' or 'blank slate' that is 'filled in' by each person's environment. In her essay, Emrich acknowledged the importance of both heredity and the environment when she wrote, "Mendel greatly underestimated genetic complexity, while Locke grossly overestimated the impact of environmental influences on human development." She concluded her essay by stating that, "Perhaps it would be more correct to say that genes, by creating a living organism, provide a slate that has already been written on. With the passage of time the environment edits this writing, modifying the wording but maintaining the essence of the original document."

ASHG and GSA awarded second place to Laura Molina, a sophomore from Viera High School in Viera, Fla., for her answer to the first essay question. In her essay, Molina provided an insightful description of a variety of inheritance patterns that go beyond the 'either/or' types studied by Mendel. In her own words, Molina wrote that, "Not all traits come in just two varieties. Modes of inheritance like co-dominance, incomplete dominance, and epistasis involve intricate interactions between the expression of multiple alleles and/or genes that often result in the existence of three or more varieties of traits, such as human blood markers and flower color." Molina concluded her essay by affirming that, "Future investigation will probably uncover even more complex modes of inheritance and relationships between genes and traits that will improve our [current] understanding of genetics."

For the first essay contest question, ASHG and GSA awarded third place to Stephen Wang, a junior at the Charter School of Wilmington in Wilmington, Del., for his insightful description of the relationship between genes and traits. In his prize-winning essay, explained that, "Geneticists have discovered phenomenashowing that more than two variations a
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Contact: Kristen Long
klong@ashg.org
301-634-7346
American Society of Human Genetics
Source:Eurekalert

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