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analogies for genetics

i always get excited when i hear exciting analogies about genetics. they make explaining genetics in counseling sessions (or in other settings) so much easier.  yeah, sure, there’s the ones i’m familiar with:

genes are like a recipe
chromosomes are like a library with the books as genes
autosomal recessive is like two lightbulbs in a hallway
dominant is like two wheels on a bike
translocations are like switching caps on pens

(credits to my instructors and classmates)

but hearing new and exciting ones about commonly discussed topics make my stomach flutter, such as the following quote from Kelly Ormond in a recent ACP Internist blog post by Jessica Berthold about “A brave new world of consumer gene tests” (link below):

Unlike conditions such as Huntington’s Disease, which a person will definitely get if she has a simple genetic mutation and lives long enough, complex conditions like heart disease are usually affected by many genes. And some are more important than others, said Kelly Ormond, program director for Stanford University’s Master’s Program in Human Genetics and Genetic Counseling, and a consultant for consumer genetic testing company Navigenics.

“For common medical conditions, I imagine genes as rocks in a glass. Some are really big rocks, and some are really little. And if you get to a certain point, that glass is going to fill up and push you over the threshold for the condition. Maybe you have two big genes that bring you to the threshold; maybe it’s 10 smaller ones,” Ms. Ormond said. “And maybe it also takes environmental impacts on top of those genes to cause you to develop a condition.”

rocks in a glass huh. simple and elegant, something easily visually imaginable, or for those who just like the visual part, easily recreated in a genetic counseling session..

original article:

http://www.acpinternist.org/archives/2009/07/genetic.htm

via:

@genomicslawyer

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