SOUTH COUNTY — Monterey County Free Libraries will host a series of National DNA Day events in South County this week to highlight the role of genetics in the modern world, in addition to discussing what the human genome will mean to the leaders of tomorrow and encouraging local youth and adults to take an interest in the subjects of genomics and genetics.
According to Library Director Jayanti Addleman, this series reflects Monterey County Free Libraries’ ongoing commitment to encouraging interest in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) fields.
The free presentations, which are open to the public, will be Saturday, April 21, from 2 to 3 p.m., at the Greenfield branch library, 315 El Camino Real, and Wednesday, April 25, from 6 to 7 p.m., at the Gonzales branch library, 851 Fifth St., Ste T. A separate presentation will be made at Soledad High School for local students only.
“These presentations are part of the many events being held nationwide for National DNA Day, an annual observance promoted by the National Human Genome Research Institute at the National Institutes of Health,” Addleman said.
National DNA Day is celebrated every year on April 25 to raise awareness about the discovery of DNA’s double helix by James Watson and Francis Crick in 1953 and the successful completion of the Human Genome Project in 2003.
According to the National Institutes of Health, the Human Genome Project — considered one of the major explorations in human history — was “an inward voyage of discovery rather than an outward exploration of the planet or the cosmos,” and a joint international effort to map all the human genes.
“This annual National DNA Day celebration offers students, teachers and the public many exciting opportunities to learn about the latest advances in genomic research and explore how those advances might impact their lives,” Addleman said.
The library events will feature presenter Spenser Smith, laboratory director of local DNA testing company ARCpoint Labs of Monterey Bay, who will discuss recent developments and research by scientists in the 15 years since the completion of the Human Genome Project. He will also talk about how new technology is putting DNA advancements in the hands of ordinary people, and how its discoveries are impacting everyone’s lives. Attendees will also be introduced to the Ancestry.com database available through Monterey County Free Libraries.
Addleman said the presentations are open to all students as well as anyone interested in DNA technology and genetics research. Teachers who are interested in finding ways to encourage their students to attend these presentations may contact their local library branch for more information.