Last month we announced the three winners in 23andMe’s first-ever Genetics Image Contest, but we felt like everyone came out ahead by helping to bridge the gap in genetics education.
On top of giving out awards to individual winners, 23andMe also gave out stipends to the three schools with the highest rate of student participation — Drury University, Wartburg College and the College of San Mateo. Each school received $300 to help defray the costs of a “learning event” hosted on campus meant to raise awareness about personal genetics.
At Drury, where this year Prof. Roger Young incorporated 23andMe as a learning tool in his Advanced Molecular Genetics class, students used the money to host a genetics fair that attracted about 90 people. The students even did a before and after survey to gauge whether the event helped improve understanding of genetic testing.
“As you know, any good science experiment should have good data,” Prof. Young explained.
And it appeared from the data that the event had an impact. For example, before the event 65 percent of those surveyed said they would want to know if they were at genetic risk for a disease. Afterwards, the number went up to 79 percent.
Prof. Young said using 23andMe in his semester-long course helped prepare his students for a future in which understanding genomics is integral to medicine.
“Integrating genetic testing into a semester-long learning experience has, I believe, placed these students at a distinct advantage as they prepare to take the (medical school admissions test) and interview for acceptance into various medical schools,” he said.
Learn more about 23andMe’s Academic program here.
The winning images from the contest will be showcased in the Genetics Gallery at The Tech Museum of Innovation in San Jose, California.