It's Complex! will assist Alabama high school students in identifying genetic and environmental risks for disease and exploring how risk awareness shapes disease prevention. Scientists have begun to detect genetic and environmental factors that influence complex diseases such as diabetes, hypertension, obesity, and many forms of cancer. Knowledge of risk factors aids physicians and their patients in selecting the best course of action for management or prevention. The Hudson-Alpha Institute for Biotechnology will create and implement Risky Business, an online activity that explores the world of genetic testing, risk determination and prevention/treatment options. Students will assume the role of a family physician, working with patients whom have recently undergone genomic testing for several complex disorders. Students will review family history, medical records, video interviews and genetic information to ascertain genetic and environmental risks. Collectively, these risks will be used to identify medical and lifestyle recommendations that reduce the chance of developing the disease. This activity connects to student learning for genetic variation, complex inheritance and the contributions of biotechnology to medical practice - key components of both Alabama and national science standards. The engaging interactive format offers self-directed learning and a content management system allows new research findings or clinical applications to be added through regular updates. Online videos, animations, interviews and career profiles will support both students and educators and link content to workforce opportunities in the bioscience arena. Initial implementation will focus on Alabama schools that reach students who are traditionally underrepresented in the biomedical field. Teacher instruction will occur through workshops and embedded training with a fully-online training module in place by year four. The Alabama Math Science and Technology Initiative, a statewide materials and professional development program will help facilitate the statewide training, with broader dissemination occurring in year five. In the not-too-distant future, personal genetic information will be as important a part of a medical record as blood pressure, BMI and cholesterol. The activities outlined in this proposal seek to create a more genetically literate citizenry, increase awareness of bioscience as a career possibility, and provide a valuable first step in encouraging students to adopt preventative behaviors that reduce the risk of complex disorders.
This online activity and supporting resources provides students with important information about the risks for diseases such as diabetes, hypertension, several forms of cancer and obesity. While a portion of these risks are due to genetic factors inherited from our parents, other risks stem from the lifestyle choices we make, such as diet, exercise and smoking. Research aimed at identifying these risks is strongly supported by the NIH and the topics link to state and national science standards. Understanding that genetic and lifestyle factors interact and realizing how preventative behavior may reduce disease risk offers critical information to students making health-related decisions.
|Hurle, Belen; Citrin, Toby; Jenkins, Jean F et al. (2013) What does it mean to be genomically literate?: National Human Genome Research Institute Meeting Report. Genet Med 15:658-63|