Personal Genetics Education Project

Current Genetics Update – Introducing the microbiome to students

While some might say we live in the “Genomic Age,” there are so many fascinating dimensions to what makes us human beyond the sequence of our As, Ts, Gs and Cs. To name a few:  Epigenetics, environmental impacts, and the trillions of microbial creatures that live on our skin and in our guts. We have more microbial cells than human cells – and the microbes in our guts can weight up to 3 pounds!

The microbiome is the highly variable collection of bacteria, viruses, and other micro-organisms that live in and on humans. The scientific community is starting to piece together the ways that our microbiome may impact our health and behavior, and is seeking to understand the role our microbes might have in increasingly common health issues like obesity and asthma.

The American Gut project seeking to create a map of the microbes living on us and in us, and Your Wild Life is looking to understand what is taking up residence in your home, and even trying to understand what lives in our armpits. Fecal transplants have proven to show promise for helping people whose gut microbes have been damaged and need to be repopulated to restore one’s health.

Want to know more? These two articles, one from the Smithsonian Magazine and the other from the New York Times Magazine are excellent resources. Full of interviews with leading scientists and doctors, the message is clear:  The microbes we carry certainly impact many aspects of our physical well being, and this is a field with an enormous amount of potential – and also risk for overhype and oversimplification. Both articles above talk about these issues, and we feel include a good diversity of voices and opinions. We find the microbiome, when included in a larger discussion about biological complexity, is a great way to get students excited – no easy feat for late May!

Upcoming Events

Jan 08

pgEd at Conservatory Lab Charter School

January 8, 2019, 10:15 am - 11:15 am
Dorchester MA
United States
Jan 16

pgEd presentation at BosLab

January 16, 2019, 6:00 pm - 8:00 pm
Sommerville MA
United States

In the News

Personal Genetics Education Project - Personal Genetics Education Project - shared National Institutes of Health (NIH)'s Becoming a Scientist with National Institutes of Health (NIH) Director Dr. Francis Collins.
Personal Genetics Education Project -

An event that our teacher friends may find useful: NIH Director Dr. Francis Collins will be hosting a Facebook Live event on Monday, Dec 10th from 3:15-45 pm ET, where he will take questions from middle school students from across the US. You are invited to livestream this event to your classroom and submit your students' questions in the event feed's comments section!

National Institutes of Health (NIH)
How can you start a career in STEM? Join NIH Director & geneticist Dr. Francis Collins on December 10, 2018 at 3:15 pm ET for a conversation featuring Johnson Creek Middle School on becoming a scientist. Dr. Collins will be taking questions from middle school students from across the U.S.!
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Posted by pgEd 2 weeks ago

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