EGMT 1520: If Genetics is the Solution, What's the Problem?


How can we cure sickle cell disease?  Why don’t snakes have legs?  How do we make a seedless (insert your favorite fruit or vegetable here)?  How do we bypass egg allergies by genetically modifying chickens?  What contributed to the fall of the Roman Empire?  Was Thomas Jefferson the father of Sally Hemings’s children?  Is violent behavior a genetic disease?

These are all analytical questions/problems that have been addressed through genetic/DNA analysis.  We’ll use examples like these to explore how our increasingly sophisticated understanding of genomes and the genetic basis of life can be used to approach a wide variety of puzzles or problems.  In each case, we’ll examine how investigators framed a specific scientific question, what analytical approach was designed to address that question, what results were produced by the analyses, and what conclusions could be drawn from those results.  Wherever possible, we’ll consider any related ethical dilemmas that continue to arise, as our rapidly expanding genetic knowledge impacts both individuals and society.  And, best of all:  You’ll learn some genetics along the way!