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DNA: The Basic Blueprint of Life

Self-Study Course

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Presenter: Jessica Hekman, DVM, MS

Overview: The human genome was sequenced in 2003, followed by sequences for many other species, including dog, cat, horse, and cow. But what do the words “genome” and “sequence” actually mean? How does your DNA sequence encode the information that makes up a basic blueprint of who you are? What does all this mean for genetic testing for disease?

In this class, you will learn about the structure of DNA, how mutations are introduced into a DNA sequence, how a DNA sequence is translated into a protein, and how proteins work together to make us who we are. We will also discuss the genomic revolution: exactly what has changed in biology and medicine as a result of the sequencing of the human genome in 2003 and our new ability to sequence the genomes of other species.

This is a class in molecular genetics and genomics. Specifically, the class will cover:

  • the molecular structure of DNA
  • DNA replication and mutations
  • transcription of DNA to RNA
  • translation of RNA to proteins
  • protein structure and function
  • genome sequencing
  • variation between individual genomes
  • genetic testing for disease (how it works, how reliable it is)
  • new advances in gene editing

Class schedule: This a self-study class that will begin on the sign-on date and students are expected to complete the class within six months of the sign-on date.

Prerequisites: This class presumes no previous knowledge of genetics. However, the curriculum design is intended to be flexible and to support students learning at different levels.

CEUs 6 (valid for IAABC, CCPDT and KPA)
Member Cost $60
Non-Member Cost $75

Online Course Cancellation Policy:

  • Courses cannot be refunded once purchased.

About the Presenter

Jessica is a veterinarian currently pursuing a PhD in genetics. After eleven years working as a computer programmer, she decided to go back to school to research the causes of behavior problems in dogs. She received her veterinary degree from the Tufts Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine in Massachusetts, where she also received a Master's degree for her work on stress behaviors in hospitalized dogs. After graduation, she completed a year-long internship specializing in shelter medicine at the University of Florida Maddie's Shelter Medicine Program. She is now enrolled in a PhD program in genetics at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign. Her lab studies a group of foxes (often known as the "Siberian silver foxes") which have been bred over many generations to be friendly to humans. Her ultimate goal is to find genetic causes of fearfulness in dogs, to work with behaviorally challenged shelter dogs, and to help people better understand the science behind dog behavior.

She lives in Urbana, Illinois with her husband and two dogs. You can follow her on Twitter @dogzombieblog or read her blog at http://dogzombie.blogspot.com.

For questions email courses@iaabc.org.

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