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Real-Life Genome Stories

A special program complementing the National Museum of Natural History exhibition Genome: Unlocking Life's Code

Evening Seminar

Thursday, November 21, 2013 - 6:45 p.m. to 8:45 p.m.
Code: 1B0020

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The work of genomic scientists can often be seen as remote and abstract. In fact, genomes provide intimately personal roadmaps of who we are as individuals, where we come from — and who we might become over our lifetimes.  

The first part of the evening will focus on genetic testing for medical purposes. Virginia Tech professor Doris Zallen, author of Does It Run in the Family?: A Consumer’s Guide to DNA Testing for Genetic Disorders and To Test or Not to Test: A Guide to Genetic Screening and Risk, will provide an overview of what we can and can’t learn from available tests. She’ll then facilitate informal, small-group discussions centering on real-life scenarios that grow from what those tests tell us. For example, would you get tested—as Angelina Jolie did—to find out if you carried the BRCA gene that has been linked to hereditary breast and ovarian cancer? What would you do with that knowledge?

Then experts will explore the potential of genetic testing for the purpose of learning ancestral background. If you could scientifically verify (or refute) your family’s stories about where in the world you came from, would you?

Listen to others’ experiences—and share your own stories, if you like—as you take a look at how genetic screening has changed our view of medicine, our personal histories, and our lives.  

Presented in partnership with the National Museum of Natural History and the National Human Genome Research Institute with support from the Foundation for the National Institutes of Health and

A yearlong collaboration of special programs complementing the exhibition Genome: Unlocking Life’s Code at the National Museum of Natural History.


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Metro: Smithsonian Mall Exit (Blue/Orange)