BETHESDA, MD – In commemoration of National DNA Day, the American Society of Human Genetics (ASHG) hosted the 2017 DNA Day Essay Contest to encourage high school students and teachers to learn about human genetics concepts beyond the standard curriculum. This year, ASHG awarded first place to Adele Peng, a freshman at Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology in Alexandria, Va. Sophia Spiegel, a junior at Bergen County Academies in Hackensack, ., won second place in the contest. Alvin Ya, a senior at Poolesville High School in Poolesville, Md., was awarded third place.
Traditionally, genetic testing for diagnosis or risk of disease has been done in conjunction with medical professionals, such as genetic counselors. These professionals are experts not only in genetics, but also in counseling patients and family members about the benefits and potential harms of learning about a disease risk. Today, this traditional route is not the only option: direct-to-consumer genetic testing, offered by several companies, does not require a medical professional. The . Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has established a process by which companies can provide predictive testing for certain disorders, in addition to common traits such as straight or wavy hair.