What Is National DNA Day All About?

By | April 25, 2017

It seems that anything and everything has its own special day. So for genealogists why not have National DNA Day? Yeah why not have a day to celebrate our DNA? Well why should we have a day to honor DNA. Well read on and I will explain to you why in this post.

DNA Day

On April 25th 1953 four biologists James Watson, Francis Crick, Maurice Wilkins and Rosalind Franklin, together with other colleagues, published papers that were included in the scientific journal Nature explaining the structure of DNA, otherwise known as the Double Helix.

Fast forward then fifty years to 2003 on that very day it was announced that the Human Genome Project was very nearly close to completion. It took scientists 13 years to complete this mammoth project.

This project was set out to sequence the nucleotide base pairs that essentially make up human DNA. And so on this date in 2003 there were only a few remaining gaps to decipher.

Then in 2003 in the United States April 25th DNA Day was first celebrated. It was though intended to just be a one-time celebration. The National Human Genome Research Institute, (more on them later), let DNA Day celebrations from 2003 onwards. Since then this date has been declared International DNA Day and also World DNA Day by various groups around the world.

Special Date:

National DNA Day – April 25th (also known as International DNA Day and World DNA Day)

Credit:   AncestryDNA


What Is DNA?

DNA is the coding or genetic information that tells us what eye color we should have, the color of our hair, the color of our skin, and so on. The exact number of cells in the human cannot be determined but we do know that nearly every cell has this DNA structure.

What Is DNA Markers?

You maybe surprised to know that we are all in fact 99.9% identical to each other. It is only the 0.1% that matters and makes us all different, (apart from identical twins that is).

This DNA is passed down to us from our ancestors and so effectively it can tell us about our family’s past. Scientists use what are called markers, (the differences between each of us), to find clues about our past. They then use these clues against a database of records to build up a picture of where we came from.

It is quite an extraordinary and wonderful science. You can read more about it by reading my What Is A Genealogy DNA Test post.


National Human Genome Research Institute

The National Human Genome Research Institute (NHGRI) organize events each year on April 25th celebrating the discovery of human DNA. They arrange for speakers to enter halls and speak to students and discuss to them what DNA is and the importance of it. The general public can also learned about DNA as well.

National Human Genome Research Institute

So what does the NHGRI now that the Genome Project was completed over a decade ago?

Due to the completion of the Human Genome Project it has led to the Genomic Era, and so has opened up a totally new area of science to explore. The new direction, or rather goals, is to look at understanding the biology of diseases and also advancing the science of medicine.

The institute has been reorganized and a new program called the Extramural Research Program has started up. This program has been divided into four divisions which will help complete their new goals in understanding more about the nature of the human genome.


What Can You Do On This Day?

Now that you know a little more about DNA and the importance of this date you maybe wondering what you can do to get involved. The DNA inside of us has been passed on for countless generations so what better to learn about it than by discovering our ancestors along the way.

What can I do?

There are many activities that you can participate in to celebrate DNA Day. But I should point out that you do not necessarily need to do it just on April 25th. Why not participate in the learning and discovery of DNA throughout the year?

Some activities that you can do:

  • Essay contests – How about you write an essay on the importance of DNA?
  • Strawberry DNA Extraction – Learn about DNA through strawberries. An interesting way to learn about this science through fruit.
  • Learn about the timeline of the human genome – Discover the history behind this science by learning the Mendel’s work with peas back in the mid 1800s.
  • Learn about the exploration of ancient DNA – How about you learn what was discovered from fossilized remains and feces, permafrost cores and also other unusual sources of DNA.

There are just so many different ways for you to become involved on DNA Day, (and any other day of the year). Please take a look at the Get Activity Ideas page of the NHGRI site for more ideas.


Final Thoughts

Personally I like to learn. I like to read about science and also history as well. So what better way for me to learn about DNA and my ancestors than by doing a DNA test to discover where my ancestors came from. There are many different DNA testing companies that you can chose from to find out about your family history.

The three major ones are 23andMe, AncestryDNA and FamilyTreeDNA. With these companies you provide a sample of your saliva with a test kit and send it back. It usually takes 6 to 8 weeks to get your results back then.

By far the most popular of the three is Ancestry as its large databases contain billions of records and have literally millions of members. There are two main benefits of DNA testing program.

The first is that you can find out your ethnicity background and secondly you have the possibility of being linked up to distant cousins that are members to the Ancestry website.

DNA testing has become the latest tool for genealogists and can help you break down any brick walls that you may have encountered in your research. So if you are struggling to know which direction to go next to find your ancestors then why not give DNA testing a go.

There is just so much that you can explore through this area of science. It just opens up so many new branches of your family tree and can connect you with relatives that you never knew existed before.

Imyself have been astounded as to the ‘long lost’ family members that I have met while tracing my family tree.


Thank You and Please Leave A Comment

I hope you enjoyed this post giving you a guide as to what National DNA Day is all about. If you think that this post will be helpful to others then please share it with friends and family using the social media buttons below.

If you have any questions or comments then please leave a comment below. I would love to hear from you.

Author: Owain

Hello, Owain here. After researching my family history for a number of years I wanted to give back to the genealogy world. So here you will find guides, tips and product reviews that will help you on your genealogy journey.

12 thoughts on “What Is National DNA Day All About?

  1. Keli

    Your article was very enjoyable. I did not know there was an International DNA day. My sister is a Genetic Engineer in Huntsville, AL. She works with a company that was developing gene therapy for diseases. I’m not sure what they are doing now. It’s funny because we don’t know any of our extended family. Maybe one day.

    Reply
    1. Owain Post author

      Hi Keli, even though the human genome has been mapped there is just so much more we can and need to learn. It’s such an exciting field of research. And for us genealogists it can teach us a lot about our ancestors.

      Reply
  2. Veena

    DNA day! It seems there’s a day for everything these days! An interesting post written. Never knew there were activities planned as well. I am particularly interested in strawberry DNA extraction and exploration of ancient DNA. Will not miss it out. Thanks for sharing

    Reply
    1. Owain Post author

      You’re welcome Veena. There is a lot of things you can do on this day. You may like to try out a DNA test and discover your family history. It certainly has become a popular method for genealogists.

      Reply
  3. Sam

    This was a very interesting and informative read, I actually did not know about this myself and I’m glad I do know about it now. Your website covers a lot of important topics that more people need to know about I hope they find your website.

    Reply
    1. Owain Post author

      Thank you Sam. Discovering your family history is both exciting and exhilarating. You just don’t know who you will discover.

      Also, genealogy is such a big subject to cover. And with this website so far I have only just scratched the surface. I plan to add so much more useful information to this site. So please keep checking back regularly. And also share with friends and family.

      Reply
  4. Craig

    Hi Owain, Wow! We knew about DNA in 1953? It just goes to show how complex it is, since it wasn’t really fully understood until 50 years later. To be quite honest, I think it’s such an important piece of our history and a real milestone in determining identities that it should have a National DNA day! Why not? After all, it really was a turning point in our lifetime wrt biological data.

    Reply
    1. Owain Post author

      It did surprise me too just how long ago that the discovery was made. It may not though be so surprising how long that it did take to map the human genome though. The human body is a complex thing, and as a side note so is the brain.

      There is just so much more that can be learned about DNA. With advancements in this ‘new’ area for genealogists we can certainly learn more about our ancestors and where they came from.

      Reply
  5. Grace

    Very interesting and informative article. For a long time DNA was not even mentioned to the wast majority. I don’t remember even in the 70s hearing much about it, just a piece of information here and there. It’s is absolutely fascinating what we can learn from DNA sample. Thank you for the information.
    Grace

    Reply
    1. Owain Post author

      It’s certainly a lot more noticeable now, what with seeing Ancestry DNA adverts on television all the time. It’s just incredible what you can find out from doing a DNA test.

      Reply
  6. Furkan

    Involving in this day is such a great idea. I already studied Mendel in high school but I was really not interested in. However Strawberry DNA Extraction looks really interesting. I will definitely try that.

    Reply
    1. Owain Post author

      Strawberry DNA extraction is a bit wacky but it does get people interested in the DNA and the science behind it. Hope you have fun with that.

      Reply

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