Deoxyribonucleic acid. Otherwise known as DNA. It’s the building block that makes up everything in the human race and almost all other organisms as well. It is the molecule that carries genetic instructions to all living things.
And because DNA is so vital, it is appropriate that it has its own day! So get ready to learn about and celebrate National DNA Day!
History of National DNA Day
It was during the 1950s that two scientists, one American biologist and one French physicist published a work that revealed how the DNA molecule exists in the form of a double helix that is three-dimensional.
Of course, the foundation of this scientific research dates much further back. In fact, almost a century earlier, in the 1860s, when Swiss chemist Friedrich Miescher first identified DNA.
It was around this same era that Gregor Mendel, a scientist in Moravia (now Czech Republic) is credited as the “father of genetics” due to his groundbreaking explanation of the basic laws of heredity. Though his work translated to human genetics, his first studies were not made on human beings but on the common pea plant.
National DNA Day was begun in commemoration of the 50 year anniversary of James Watson and Francis Crick’s discovery (and published article) of the Double Helix, as well as the completion of the Genome Project which took 13 years to complete.
The Human Genome Project was an international research effort where scientists worked together to determine the DNA sequence of the entire human genome–which was no small feat! The project was completed in April 2003 and National DNA day has been put into place to honor that, as well as the discovery of the Double Helix.
Although National DNA Day was made into an official observance by the U.S. Congress, it is the NGRI (National Human Genome Research Institute) who is the group that organizes events. During these events, speakers go into halls and educate both students and the general public who wish to find out more about DNA, this building block that makes up human life.
National DNA Day Timeline
Gregor Mendel makes an important discovery
Mendel, a meteorologist, biologist, mathematician and Augustian friar, studies the common pea plant and describes the three principles of inheritance.
Friedrich Miescher identifies “nuclien”
A Swiss physiological chemist, Miescher names what will later be called “nucleic acid” and then eventually, “deoxyribonucleic acid” or DNA.
Discovery of the Double Helix
American James Watson and Frenchman Francis Crick are the first to propose the three-dimensional double helix structure for DNA.
The world’s largest collaborative biological project, this determined the base pairs that make up human DNA.
First National DNA Day is celebrated
This day is approved by houses of the US Congress in celebration of the discovery of the Double Helix shape as well as finishing the Human Genome project.
How to Celebrate National DNA Day
Wondering about ways to get involved with celebrating National DNA Day? Start with some of these ideas:
Attend a National DNA Day Event
Many schools and scientific organizations will be holding events that help to educate their communities, or the worldwide online community, about topics surrounding human genetics and DNA. More information can be found at the US government website dedicated to genome research.
For local National DNA Day events, check out events that might be held at schools, universities or local libraries.
Submit a National DNA Day Essay
The American Society of Human Genetics (ASHG) hosts an Annual DNA Essay Contest. The contest is open to high school students grades 9-12 from anywhere in the world and the essays are meant to discuss, question, examine and reflect on the most important concepts within the field of genetics.
Learn More About DNA and Genome Research
This is the perfect time to brush up on the topic of DNA, heredity and genomes and one great way to do that might be to head over to the local library to do some research. Grab some books to learn about the important history behind this day, or some periodicals to stay up to date on what is happening in the world of genome research currently.
Whatever topic is chosen, digging into some scientific reading, or even performing some of your own scientific research, is a great way to celebrate the day and follow in the footsteps of the great people who made this discovery.
National DNA Day FAQs
What is National DNA Day?
National DNA Day is meant to celebrate the important discovery of the Double Helix as well as the Human Genome Project.
When is National DNA Day?
National DNA Day is celebrated each year on the 25th day of April.
Why is National DNA Day on April 25th?
April 25, 1953 was the day that the structure of DNA was published in the scientific journal, Nature. National DNA Day commemorates this.
When did National DNA Day start?
The first National DNA Day was held in 2003 for the 50th anniversary of the discovery of the structure of the DNA shape.
What is the National DNA Day essay contest?
This contest put on by the American Society of Human Genetics is for high school students to submit essays about concepts within the field of genetics.