Personal Genetics Education Project

GETed Conference

In addition to our efforts in the classroom, pgEd is involved in activities to accelerate genetics education to prepare our communities for the fast-approaching revolution in personal genetics.  As such, one of our goals is to bring together genetics educators to generate ideas, foster collaboration, and expand the use of existing resources.

GETeducated!  In 2012 and 2013, these meetings (dubbed “GETed”) have taken place in conjunction with the Genomes Environments Traits (GET) Conference, sponsored by the Personal Genome Project at Harvard Medical School, in order to inject perspectives from the frontiers of human biology into discussions on how to expand the number of people who are informed. This pairing inspires an atmosphere for tackling current challenges with an eye to future educational demands as genomics expands into new domains.

GETed 2013

On April 26-27, 2013, GETed brought together 70 experts in education, research, health, entertainment, and policy to brainstorm strategies for raising awareness about personal genetics (click here for agenda, list of participants, and meeting report published in Personalized Medicine which pgEd’s Marnie Gelbart co-authored with Chris Gunter) . GETed 2013 centered on the theme of ‘Inclusion,’ strategies for raising awareness, especially in those communities with skepticism about the intent of research, concerns about the application of genomic technologies, and limited access to resources, as well as controversial topics that can simultaneously propel and stymie discussions of genetics.


Our mission was to accelerate efforts for:
(1) Ensuring that all communities, regardless of socioeconomic status, will be equally informed about the benefits that can come from personal genetics. We addressed the challenges of scaling up targeted outreach and discussed topics including literacy, language, and cultural relevance, and our role in working with other nations to advance awareness around the globe.

(2) Fostering a dialog about controversial topics that make some people wary of genetics. We explored topics including religion, reproductive choice, race, and the genetic basis of behavior and cognition as well as concerns related to eugenics and magnification of socioeconomic disparities.

Featured sessions:

  • Personal genetics and explorations of human behavior
  • Personal choices and conversations at the intersection of genetics and reproduction
  • Grassroots: raising awareness about genetics across communities
  • Advancing genetics awareness through television and film
  • Engaging the political sphere


GETed 2013 built upon the progress since our last meeting in 2012, which focused our attention on developing “game plans” with mass appeal – strategies for putting personal genetics into the mainstream. Just one year later, pgEd has launched our cell phone game, called Map-Ed, and a pipeline to promote the portrayal of personal genetics on television shows in conjunction with Hollywood, Health & Society (highlighted at GET2013). We also heard updates on other exciting news from the past year, including Paul Szauter’s film review website as well as the new exhibition at the Smithsonian (in partnership with the NHGRI).

The GETed meeting embraces a ‘let’s-get-it-done’ attitude, aiming to inspire new educational tools, networks, and collaborations that will advance the mission of accelerating awareness. Outcomes from GETed 2013 include:

  • Engaging two-time Emmy award-winning documentary producer, Marilyn Ness, to film at GETed and generate a series of webisodes based on the meeting;
  • Aggregating a diverse array of websites and tools during a rapid-fire session in which participants were given two minutes to present their favorite resources (compiled into our new Resource Center; also, check out the reading list compiled at GETed);
  • Expanding Map-Ed by developing a series of five questions that will serve as the foundation for a new map on statistics and understanding risk.

Continuing the mission:

GETed generates a palpable energy due to the breadth of participants, the diversity of topics, and the opportunities for inspiring innovative collaborations across disciplines. Please contact Marnie Gelbart for more information about future GETed meetings.


Many thanks to:

Sponsored Educational Tool:

To celebrate the 60th Anniversary of Watson & Crick’s discovery of the structure of DNA, Genentech has created an iPad app to engage and inspire a broader audience through genetics-based puzzles. The app offers a fun, educational experience that shares their passion for science with scientists and non-scientists alike. pgEd, whose mission is accelerating education and engagement about personal genetics, welcomes this new project into the fold! Check out the trailer below, and get the game here!