Apr 23, 2021 - News

DNA Day 2021


We’re all about the science here at 23andMe, and that’s what makes DNA Day so special for us here. 

Established back in 2003, DNA Day was meant to commemorate two big milestones — the discovery of the double-helix structure of DNA in 1953; and the decoding of the human genome 50 years later. DNA Day has become more than just a day to commemorate those milestones, but also a day to educate. 

So here’s a quick primer on those two milestones.


Watson and Crick

James Watson and Francis Crick published their description of the structure of DNA on April 23, 1953, in the journal Nature. In 1962, the pair, along with Maurie Wilkins, won a Nobel prize for their work. It is still considered one of the most significant scientific contributions of the last century. 

Left out of that recognition was Rosalind Franklin, whose x-ray images of DNA were critical to solving its structure. She passed away in 1958. You can learn about her career and her contributions at “The Secret of Photo 51,” which was put together for the PBS program NOVA several years ago.


Human Genome Project

Over 13-years, the Human Genome Project mustered resources from the U.S. Department of Energy and the National Institutes of Health with the goal of mapping the human genome. A massive team of scientists worked to identify all the more than 20,000 genes in human DNA and determine the sequence of the three billion base pairs that make up the human genome. They completed the work in 2003. 

For a much more detailed look at the history and accomplishments from the project go to the National Human Genome Institute’s Human Genome Project page, or to take a look at the data go to the NCBI Human Genome Resources page.


23andMe formed just three years after scientists sketched out that first rough draft of the human genome. Our mission remains to help people access, understand, and benefit from the human genome. 

Now 15 years on, 23andMe opened up personal discoveries for millions of customers, offering consumers direct access to genetic testing without the need of an intermediary. 23andMe has also become a tool for people to learn about and explore genetics and participate in important genetic research.

As our CEO and co-founder Anne Wojcicki once said about 23andMe:

“We’re not just a genetics company. We’re not just a health company; we’re not just ancestry; we’re all of these things. We want to tell you about you.”

Find out more here.

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