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

re possible for any one given trait." Wang concluded his essay by noting that, "Therefore, not all traits for all species come in only two varieties. Often, these traits can come in 3 or 4, [or] maybe more variations, each the result of a complex genetic combination."

For the second of the two essay contest questions, the ASHG and GSA judges awarded first place to Michael Kovacs, a senior from Winston Churchill High School in Potomac, Md., for his response. In his essay, Kovacs wrote about obesity, using this health condition as an example to illustrate the complexity of the genetic and environmental interactions that can contribute to disease. In his own words, "Obesity, like so many other health risks, is the sum of a variety of conditions that add up to a life-threatening illness." Kovacs then described some of these 'conditions' or 'factors' that can cause disease. He concluded his essay with the following astute observation, stating that, "We cannot take the reductionist approach to health and disease by assigning just a single cause to a single problem. Genetics, infections, and the environment play some role in most diseases, and by understanding how they all work together to create so serious a problem as obesity, we can potentially provide better methods of treatment, prevention, and control of these diseases."

Jennifer Li, a junior at Enloe High School in Raleigh, N.C., won second place for her response to the second of the two essay contest questions. In her cleverly titled essay, "The Intricacy of Human Diseases: From the Pea to Phenylketonuria," Li adeptly illustrated her understanding of how certain environmental factors can influence human health and disease. She did so by describing the surprising complexity of phenylketonuria (or PKU), which is a rare, inherited single-gene disorder that affects a person's ability to properly metabolize the amino acid phenylalanine and, if left untreated, can cause problems with brain development t
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Contact: Kristen Long
klong@ashg.org
301-634-7346
American Society of Human Genetics
Source:Eurekalert

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