DNA Code Breaking

Michael White
Washington University School of Medicine
Gateway Teen Science Café, St. Louis, Missouri


How does DNA store genetic information? Fifty years ago, scientists cracked the genetic code and learned how our genes store information. The genetic code helps us ‘read’ our genes to understand how they work, and how mutations break them in disease. But it turns out that the genetic code only works on a tiny fraction of our DNA, and so we can’t read the rest.Come learn how genome scientists are trying to crack another genetic code to read and understand the other important parts of our DNA — like the parts that control our genes, switching them on when they’re needed and keeping them off when they’re not. You can try your hand at cracking DNA codes and find out how DNA code breaking plays an important role in creating new personalized medical treatments.

Hands on Activity

Each activity consisted of decoding DNA starting with decoding the genetic code, moving onto determining the best drug for a disease using personalized medicine, and looking at the differences between humans and Neanderthals.