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The Human Genome Project

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Marshall, Elizabeth L. The Human Genome Project: Cracking The Code Within Us.

New York, New York: Franklin Watts, 1996. 1-128.

Elizabeth L. Marshall was born in Minneapolis, Minnesota. She grew up in areas of southern California, and in parts of New York City. She lives in Columbus, Ohio, and is currently married and has two daughters. She attended and graduated from the University of Virginia with a B.A. in English. She then graduated from the University of Pittsburgh with a Master of Fine Arts degree in fictional writing. She has worked form several scientific journals and magazines and is a member of the National Association of Science Writers. She has also written several well known books including Conquering Infertility: Medical Challenges and Moral Dilemmas, and High-Tech Harvest.

I chose this book because it seemed like an interesting topic, and because I thought it might help me understand more things about DNA. Someone else who read it said that it had a lot to do with the things we covered in class too so I figured it would be as good a choice as any.

This book is about the amazing task of mapping and showing all the sequences of the thousands and thousands of genes in the human body. The book is split up into nine chapters each of which covers a different aspect of this incredible project. The book tells all about almost every aspect of the project. It tells all about the project and what the point is, what has been accomplished so far, and when they expect it to be finished. According to the introduction the project is actually expected to be finished sometime this year.

The first chapter starts off with the basic structure of DNA and describes how the base pairing of each nucleotide creates each amino acid, which when all put together create a strand of DNA. It also gives an idea of who is working on the project. She lists several major cities where the project is being worked on and then goes on to explain how between all these different teams, who are all working on some different aspect of the project, there are also anywhere from 200 to 400 other smaller teams all around the country working on it. The next chapter is about chromosome 18, and how a slight mistake in it can cause things like mental retardation and deafness, and what they are trying to do to help stop or fix chromosome 18 deletion syndrome. The third chapter covers how the human genome project can benefit cystic fibrosis victims by discovering the cystic fibrosis gene and finding out what they can do about it.

Chapter 4 talks about the government side of the project and the involvement of the Department of Energy and the National Institutes of Health. It also gives an excellent overview of all the technology involved and being developed for this project. It also explains how all the different discoveries from the hundreds of different labs working on this huge project are kept track of and made available among each other. The fifth chapter talks about how the project is not just for humans, but also for 5 other species including rats and mice. The sixth chapter talks about Physician David Asch's opinions of genetic engineering, and about the affects the project has on peoples lives. He talks about the moral issues of genetic testing and how the information from this project could be misused, or could create moral dilemmas.

Chapter 7 called "The Big Picture" is exactly that. It gives a simple, and in-depth breakdown of what the Human Genome Project is for, and what it can do to benefit us. Chapter 8 talks more about other people involved in the project, and talks more about how better understanding of DNA could help scientists develop cures to diseases such as cancer. The final chapter talks about all the benefits that can come from the completion of the Human Genome Project, and gives several fictional instances of futuristic plot lines and what the understanding from this project could theoretically do in these story lines.

10 Scientific Terms

1. Adenine - 1 of the 4 nucleotide bases found in DNA

2. Amino Acid - The building blocks of proteins. There are twenty different amino acids.

3. Crossing Over - Exchange of DNA between a pair of chromosomes

4. Intron - A non-protein-coding region of a gene

5. Human Genome - A complete set of all the genes of a human

6. Deletion - A missing section of DNA on a chromosome

7. Exon - Protein-coding region of a gene

8. Heredity - The transmission of traits from parent to child via genes

9. Polymorphism - Differences among individuals in DNA sequences




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