The H.G.P.: Saving Lives or Playing With Them?

Background: The Human Genome Project (HGP) was an international research effort to determine the
sequence of the human genome and identify the particular traits each gene represents. The work of the HGP
allowed researchers to begin understanding the blueprint for building a person. As researchers learn more
about the functions of genes and proteins, this knowledge will have a major impact in the fields of medicine,
biotechnology, and the life sciences. We now have identified just over 20,000 human genes, including several
disease-causing genes, and we now have the ability to use DNA like a medicine to treat these diseases. Other
possibilities include the creation of new humans with specifically sorted DNA allowing them to have designed
physical traits, such as for beauty, health, and strength. The technology is ready, but the question remains:
should we alter a person’s genes?

1. Research Questions (1-3 index cards allowed during interview):



How do DNA, RNA, single nucleotide polymorphism, and gene insertion work?
What is the relationship between DNA, proteins, and disease?
Approximately what percentage of a person’s DNA is different from any other human?
What are the arguments for and the arguments against altering a person’s genes?

2. Tri-fold Board (required information listed; feel free to include additional information):

● Include the function, structure, purpose, and nitrogen bases of DNA, including the production
of proteins from DNA and a diagram of how genes are spliced
● Include information about diseases related to DNA and genes, and how these diseases can be
treated through human genetic technology
● Include the arguments for and the arguments against altering a person’s genes for medical and
designer purposes

3. Project Options (choose one):

● If you are FOR gene therapy and genetically modified people:
 Create a campaign that supports your cause: design a logo and slogan, T-shirts, buttons,
bumper stickers, and an advertisement (ex. commercial or posters) that encourages the
public to agree with your group’s opinion on genetic modification
 Choose a disease that can be treated or cured using human genetic alteration. Create a
charity foundation that will increase awareness of the disease you choose to support:
create a name, logo, slogan, poster/pamphlet increasing awareness of your foundation
and disease, and a fundraising plan (what is something you could do to raise awareness
and research funds?)
● If you are AGAINST gene therapy and genetically modified people:
 Create a campaign that supports your cause: design a logo and slogan, T-shirts, buttons,
bumper stickers, and an advertisement (ex. commercial or posters) that encourages the
public to agree with your group’s opinion on genetic modification
 Choose a negative outcome or major problem with human genetic alteration. Create a
charity foundation that will increase awareness of this negative impact so that the public
will be aware: create a name, logo, slogan, poster/pamphlet increasing awareness of
your foundation and disease, and a fundraising plan (what is something you could do to
raise awareness and research funds?)
● Create a timeline
 Research the major events, breakthroughs, and setbacks in genetic science since its
discovery. Include images, diagrams, interesting facts, and important events.

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