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UA Department of Immunobiology Brings `National DNA Day’ to Local High Schools

Tuesday, April 23, 2019

The Department of Immunobiology in the University of Arizona College of Medicine – Tucson is hosting “National DNA Day” events at local high schools, April 24, 25 and 26, to highlight the importance of genomic research.

Nearly 700 high school students and eight teachers in biology classes at three Tucson Unified School District schools—Cholla, Catalina and Rincon high schools—will participate in the events.

Events are being held nationwide as part of “National DNA Day” on April 25, a national observance promoted by the National Human Genome Research Institute at the National Institutes of Health. “National DNA Day” raises awareness about the discovery of DNA’s double helix by James Watson and Francis Crick in 1953, with significant contributions from Rosalind Franklin, and the successful completion of the Human Genome Project in 2003. This annual celebration offers students and teachers many exciting opportunities to learn about the latest advances in genomic research and explore how those advances might impact their lives.

UA Health Sciences graduate and undergraduate students will visit the Tucson high schools to teach ninth- and 10th-grade biology students about how our genetic makeup sculpts us into unique individuals. The events not only teach important concepts about DNA, but also engage students with hands-on activities, including genetic wheels and extracting their DNA from saliva using common household items.

“Our goal is to engage the local community and get them to understand and appreciate the importance of genomic research,” said UA immunobiologist Michael Johnson, PhD, assistant professor, Department of Immunobiology. “Most importantly, we want to get the kids excited about biology.”

“The National Human Genome Research Institute at the National Institutes of Health is proud to add Arizona to its list of states with active DNA Day outreach events courtesy of Dr. Michael Johnson at the University of Arizona. I think it is really exciting that the university is incorporating the topic of precision medicine through the inclusion of the All of Us Research Program into their classroom visits. Dr. Johnson has been a supporter of DNA Day since 2007 and has initiated DNA Day programming in three different states. He has not only been a supporter of DNA Day, but a true champion for science literacy,” said Carla L. Easter, PhD, chief, Education and Community Involvement Branch, NHGRI.

“National DNA Day” has grown significantly each year, with the number of events more than doubling since 2011. For more information, or to see the complete list of “National DNA Day” events, please visit genome.gov/DNADay.

About the University of Arizona Health Sciences

The University of Arizona Health Sciences is the statewide leader in biomedical research and health professions training. The UA Health Sciences includes the UA Colleges of Medicine (Phoenix and Tucson), Nursing, Pharmacy and Mel and Enid Zuckerman College of Public Health, with main campus locations in Tucson and the growing Phoenix Biomedical Campus in downtown Phoenix. From these vantage points, the UA Health Sciences reaches across the state of Arizona and the greater Southwest to provide cutting-edge health education, research, patient care and community outreach services. A major economic engine, the UA Health Sciences employs approximately 4,000 people, has approximately 800 faculty members and garners more than $140 million in research grants and contracts annually. For more information: uahs.arizona.edu (Follow us: Facebook | Twitter | YouTube | LinkedIn | Instagram)

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