Genetics on the Web
This image from the Wellcome Trust represents the process of translation, where the DNA code in your genome is translated into the protein that makes up your body. You can find out more about this process (and many others) by following the links on this page.
TEDS research focuses on how genes and environments affect our development from childhood through to adulthood. It turns out that the information in our genetic code is important for almost every aspect of how we grow up. And it's not a case of "nature or nurture": The general rule is that genes and environments are equally important. So most things are down to both nature and nurture: genes and environments working together.
For the types of things we're interested in in TEDS (usually psychology and how people behave), we're not expecting to find a single gene for each behaviour: There's no such thing as "the reading gene", for example. Instead, we're finding that hundreds of genes affect each aspect of development, all having tiny effects. However, the tiny effects add up to make genetics an important part of who we are.
With recent breakthroughs in technology, these are very exciting days for research programmes like TEDS, and with companies offering personal genetic profiling, knowing a bit about genetics is becoming more and more important to everyday life. Here's a rundown of our favourite resources for finding out about genetics on the Web. Remember, TEDS is not responsible for the content of these external sites, but we hope you'll enjoy them!
www.yourgenome.org is hosted by the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute, one of the major players in the race to sequence the human genome at the end of last century and an international centre of excellence in genetic research. The site aims to help people understand genetics and genomic science and the implications for us all. You'll find answers to questions like "What is a genome?", "How do you sequence the DNA of an organism?", and "What could this information be used for?".
www.insidedna.org.uk was developed by At-Bristol on behalf of the UK Association for Science and Discovery Centres. It's designed to keep you up to date on the latest developments in the fast-moving world of human genomics and provide a forum for everyone to discuss and debate the issues raised.
Routes: Discover the Secrets in Your Genes
www.routegame.com is an eight-week game from Channel 4 (in association with the Wellcome Trust) that takes players into a world of genetics, evolution and the human genome. The original live game ran from January to March 2009, but you can still play along, and the site is packed full of interesting documentaries and minigames, including the highly addictive SNEEZE! Don't say we didn't warn you...
Sense About Science
Genetic research often makes the front pages of the newspapers, but how do we know what to believe? Sense About Science (www.senseaboutscience.org) is a UK charity that responds to the misrepresentation of science and scientific evidence on issues that matter to society, from scares about plastic bottles, fluoride and the MMR vaccine to controversies about genetic modification, stem cell research and radiation. They work with scientists and civic groups to promote evidence and scientific reasoning in public discussion. If you've ever wondered how to check the validity of scientific claims, then their guide to peer review will be right up your street. You may also enjoy their guide to Making Sense of Statistics.