DNA Day Essay Contest Winners

It wasn’t easy, but we’ve chosen the top three entries in our first ever DNA Day student essay contest.Students Logo copy

Below are excerpts from the winners with links to the full essays. We hope this contest marks the beginning of a robust conversation about the future of genetics in medicine among those who participate in our new Student Program. On top of winning a free 23andMe DNA kit and a $100 Amazon gift card, 23andMe will donate $300 to a group on their campus that will host an event focused on discussing genetics and digital health.

Having familiarity with this rapidly advancing science will be crucial for those pursuing careers in medicine. From the entries it’s clear that medical students today know how important genetics has already become and the issues that they will face during their careers.

“Many essays underscored the importance and clinical utility of cancer genomics and carrier testing,” said Esther Kim, Pharm. D., who heads up 23andMe’s education efforts. “Others articulated cases for using personal genomics to enhance family medical history, disease prevention strategies and clinical decision support systems.”

Sixty years after Watson and Crick revealed the structure of DNA and ten years after the completion of the Human Genome Project, the ability to routinely analyze individual genomes is rapidly revolutionizing the practice of medicine. However, many experts express concerns over today’s medical practitioners lacking the rudimentary knowledge and skills to integrate personal genomics into patient care and to contextualize the information to patients.
23andMe hopes to improve genetic literacy among consumers as well as medical professionals and our new Student Program will provide ongoing learning opportunities for those pursuing a career in medicine.  Program participants will receive regular scientific updates on what’s new in the field of personal genomics, and they can also interact with their peers on our LinkedIn student-only forum to share their own ideas about personal genomics.
DNA Day Student Essay Winners

– Leslie Ann Jaramillo Koyama, Stanford University School of MedicineLeslie_Koyama copy
“It was not until after I began to analyze my raw genetic data that I was confronted with the question: what do I do with this information? For those who find themselves facing a significantly increased risk for a certain disease such as diabetes or cancer, the immediate response would be to consult a doctor.  However, regardless of whether or not one’s results are of significant concern, is simply telling your doctor your genetic predisposition enough? Or do we benefit from having raw genetic data and other genetic testing results included in our medical files?”
Here’s a link to a PDF for Leslie’s full essay.
– Julian Homburger, Stanford University School of Medicine Julian_Homburger
“One of the first questions a doctor will ask a new patient is for a brief snapshot of their family medical history. This query is an attempt to characterize a person’s genetic tendency towards specific ailments. In fact, it is a snapshot of an individual’s genetic predisposition towards disease, albeit on the basis of a rather small sample of related individuals… Personal genetics has the ability to greatly improve the accuracy in predicting an individual’s predisposition to diseases, giving doctors and individuals a more complete understanding of a person’s “family history”  of disease.”
Here’s a link to a PDF for Julian’s full essay.
– Tyler Vestal, Columbia University College of Physicians and SurgeonsTyler_Vestal
“We  are approaching an age where it will be feasible to sequence the entire  genome of a person, but how do we use this information? How does it help our doctors? How does it influence our lives? Instead  of our current one-size-fits-all treatment for most diseases, many envision a future in which we will be able to tailor medical treatment  based on one’s underlying genetic information, a medical model known as personalized, or precision, medicine. This future is quickly becoming the present and the recent advances in cancer medicine and drug development demonstrate how precision medicine may be used by clinicians  to treat patients.”
Here’s a link to a PDF for Tyler’s full essay.