Genetics is a branch of biology that studies heredity and how certain characteristics or traits are passed from parents to offspring. The modern study of genetics began with the research of Gregor Mendel in the mid-1800s. His discoveries paved the way for today’s understanding of the role of genetics in human development and in the treatment of genetic disorders.
Whether you’re a parent who wants to help her child with homework, or you just want a better understanding of genetics, the Web is a great place to turn for an introduction to genetics.
- As with many cutting-edge sciences, human genetics—particularly the manipulation of genes—is a controversial issue. Bear this in mind as you visit the Web sites below and consider who their sponsors are.
offers a “Tour of the Basics” to get you started. Loads of illustrations, podcasts, virtual labs, a genetic disorders library and more help to make genetics accessible.
offers an introduction to genetics that provides a bit of history on the principles of Mendelian genetics and provides links to more advanced information.
has a comprehensive overview of genetics aimed at kids, though the straightforward explanations will appeal to adults, too. Learn what genes are, how they work and find out about genetic disorders.
Get up to speed with current developments in genetics and find insights on teaching genetics with the help of the Web.
- Some of the sites below can help you find material for your target audience by focusing on specific age ranges and media.
- Check the dates of the content on each site to make sure that you’re getting the latest information and insights on this dynamic science.
The BEN Collaborative
has more than 500 resources for K-12 educators on genetics and heredity. Resources are listed in alphabetical order and are available in PDF format.
National Human Genome Research Institute
provides a wealth of educational materials about genetics and genomics. Browse the navigation bar on the left to find animated presentations, a downloadable CD entitled “Understanding the Human Genome Project,” a series of teaching modules and more.
is specifically targeted to educators, and is currently in beta. Visit the lesson plan index
and find supplemental materials on cells and epigenetics.
More and more, medical experts are beginning to understand genetic disorders and how they manifest. Learn more about what genetics disorders are and get familiar with some of the most common genetic conditions.
- Research into genetic disorders is in its infancy. Don’t expect to find discussions of cures for such disorders; you’re more likely to learn about potential explanations and possible treatments.
Your Genes, Your Health
presents comprehensive information on 15 different genetic disorders, including a synopsis for each disorder, its cause, genetic link, symptoms, diagnosis and treatment.
Genetics Home Reference
presents more than 400 genetic conditions, syndromes and diseases. Find a comprehensive overview of each, along with links to additional information.
DNA sequencing is defined as establishing all or part of a person's exact DNA sequence. It enables you to retrieve information on genes and proteins and cross-reference them to gain a better understanding of their biological function.
- DNA sequencing is a complex topic and not for the faint of heart. The sites below were chosen for their straightforward explanations of the process.
Human Genome Project
, completed in 2003, was a 13-year project that aimed to identify and sequence all the genes in human DNA. Visit the site to find out what DNA sequencing is and to learn more about the project.
Research into the causes and potential treatments of genetic illnesses and disorders is one of the fastest growing fields in science. Learn more about genetic research and read about some of the latest genetic research studies.
National Institutes of Health
provides a brief history of genetics research in the United States along with an overview of ethical issues, gene therapy and more.
The Humane Genome Project
presents some of the ethical, legal and social issues surrounding human genome research. Use the links provided to find more detailed information on each topic.
is a journal published by the Genetics Society of America. The site offers free customizable e-mail alerts and RSS feeds along with abstracts and full text (ASCII or PDF) of both the 50 most-read and the 50 most-cited articles.
The American Journal of Human Genetics
presents papers on its Web site in advance of its print issue every week. Each month’s current issue is available for free online in abstract, full-text, and PDF forms, along with links to spreadsheets and corresponding data when relevant.
Genes & Development
presents research papers on a wide range of issues in molecular genetics and related fields. Access to most full-text articles in the archive requires a membership.
Genetic testing can determine whether a person carries genes for inherited diseases or disorders. Discover how genetic testing is performed and how it can be used for diagnostic purposes.
explains what genetic testing is and provides links to specific topics such as genetic counseling and prenatal testing.
Keep abreast of the most recent findings in genetics news with journals, e-mail newsletters and RSS feeds.
- When performing research online, it’s always a good idea to check the dates of the articles linked or cited. This field is so dynamic that new insights can replace previously held views on an ever-changing basis.
- Consider whether the sponsors of a site may have a particular viewpoint or agenda they’re trying to spin.
connects users to the latest genetics news items from around the Web. Find news, opinions, essays, photojournalism and more.
provides an extensive list of annotated links to summaries of news articles on the human genetics and molecular biology. Links to abstracts are provided.
devotes some of its news coverage to gene therapy topics. Use the tabs near the top of the page to read news and articles or to see videos and images related to gene therapy.
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