It seems that almost everything has its special day. Two that spring to mind are Genealogy Day and National DNA Day. Who would have thought that hey?
You can probably understand Genealogy Day, but seriously DNA Day? So, why should we have a day to honor DNA?
Well, read on and I will explain to you why in this post.
National DNA Day – April 25th (also known as International DNA Day and World DNA Day)
The DNA code explained!
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 and 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 the human DNA. And so on this date in 2003, there were only a few remaining gaps to decipher.
First DNA Day Celebrations!
National DNA Day was first celebrated in the U.S. on April 25th, 2003. However, it was intended to just be a one-time celebration.
The National Human Genome Research Institute, (more on them later), would let DNA Day celebrations continue to this day.
April 25th has also been declared as International DNA Day and World DNA Day by various groups around the world.
What Is DNA?
DNA is the coding or genetic information that tells us what eye color we have, the color of our hair, the color of our skin, and other attributes that make us who we are.
The exact number of cells in the human cannot be determined but we do know that nearly every cell has this DNA structure.
Discovering clues about our past!
You may be surprised to know that we are all 99.9% identical to each other.
It is only the 0.1% that matters which makes us all different, (apart from identical twins).
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 markers can tell us the differences between each of us and thus help 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 science for the family historian to utilize.
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) organizes events each year on April 25th celebrating the discovery of human DNA.
They arrange for speakers to enter halls so that they can speak to students about the importance of DNA. The general public can also learn about DNA as well from these public engagements.
So, what next for NHGRI?
The completion of the Human Genome Project has led to the Genomic Era. This new era has opened up a new area for scientists to explore.
This new direction and its goals will look at understanding the biology of diseases and also advancing the science of medicine.
Due to this expansion into a new area, the institute has had to be reorganized. And so a new program called the Extramural Research Program has started up.
This program has been divided into 4 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 may be wondering what can you 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?
There are many activities that you can participate in to celebrate DNA Day. But I should point out that you can do these activities throughout the year as well. Not just on April 25th.
So, after this date has passed then please carry on learning about DNA, what discoveries are there, and also how it can help your genealogy research.
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 is through the fruit.
- Learn about the timeline of the human genome – Discover the history behind this science by learning about 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. Please take a look at the Get Activity Ideas page of the NHGRI site for more ideas.
My Final Thoughts
I want to just stress how important DNA testing has become to learning about your ancestors. Frankly DNA testing is the next big thing in genealogy research.
It can tell you so much about your ethnicity and it can connect you with your distant cousins as well. The possibilities are endless when it comes to this ‘new’ science.
As more and more of us take the test then there is more of a chance for you to make a connection with others. You can therefore learn more about your roots from communicating with your matches.
The best thing about this ‘new’ science is that it is always improving. You will continually get more and more refined results as time goes by.
So, please do not be disheartened if you do not get the results that you are after straight away. Just give it some time.
Take the DNA test today!
If you are interested in discovering what’s inside your DNA then please check out my Best DNA Test For Your Ancestry Research post. There you will learn about the 5 best DNA testing kits that are available today and which one is right for you.
Taking the test is simple. You either need to spit inside a tube or swab the inside of your cheek. You then send off your sample and then wait about 6-8 weeks to get your results back.
DNA testing can help you!
DNA testing has become the latest tool for genealogists as I have mentioned. It 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 to 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 even existed before.
I have been astounded as to the ‘long lost’ family members that I have met whilst tracing my family tree.
So, do yourself a favor and get to know your ancestors through DNA testing.
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 have any questions or comments then please leave a comment below.
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