Genetics to Genomics for Teachers

As teachers, you have the task of designing curriculum that reflects the advancements in science as well as the needs of your students. This requires time for you to update your own knowledge in your field and translating that knowledge for your students, while addressing the Michigan Benchmarks and the "3 Rs."

  1. Relevant – curriculum that relates to the real world for your students
  2. Rigorous - curriculum that challenges every student so they all can reach their potential
  3. Reachable - curriculum that includes carefully sequenced tasks so each student can work to reach their potential

You may be frustrated because you have a very full plate with little or no time to address this issue. This website is designed to support you and help you save time as you make the transition from Genetics to Genomics, hoping to make an impossible task, possible.

But, "what is genomics", you ask, "and why would I want to make the transition from genetics?"
Genomics is a "spin-off" from the Human Genome Project . Instead of looking at one gene at a time, isolated from the environment, genomics looks at many genes, how they interact with each other and how they are affected by their environment.

"Why would we want to move in this direction, it sounds complicated?"
Most of our traits are controlled by multiple genes that interact with each other as well as the environment (few genes actually function in isolation). These would include: traits that vary slightly from individual to individual such as height and hair color, as well as, chronic disorders like heart disease, cancer, and diabetes. These common chronic conditions will affect all of us or our families at some time. As scientists learn more about chronic conditions, they will be better at diagnosing, treating, and preventing these common problems that are caused by multiple factors, not single genes. It has been said, "Ignorance about health has been called the 'silent epidemic.'" Fortunately, we can use the same concepts (or Benchmarks) we currently teach in genetics to teach the genomics of these more common conditions with the ultimate goal of helping our students make educated decisions that will impact their health and well-being.

This website includes three main sections:

  • Family History- which looks into genomics at the organism level
  • Multifactorial Traits- which looks into genomics at the cellular and gene level
  • Genetic Variation- which looks into genomics at the molecular level

Each section includes a series of carefully sequenced activities to support the teaching of genetics as well as genomics. Each sequence will move you from working with single genes to multiple genes with an environmental effect (multifactorial conditions) while using the same tools and benchmarks. For example, we will use family trees to help explain how single traits move from generation to generation [Strand III: Heredity (LH) HS#1] as well as to describe the pattern of chronic disease in a family (Family History) while predicting the risk of chronic disease for individual family members.

To begin, learn more about Family History.