National DNA Day is on April 25, celebrating the anniversary of the discovery of DNA's double-helix structure in 1953, and the completion of the Human Genome Project in 2003. This day is organized by the Human Genome Research Institute and gathers together biologists, scientists, and those who are interested in genetics. National DNA Day is also about celebrating the things in each of our genes that make us all unique.
History of National DNA Day
In 2003 the House of Representatives and the Senate issued a proclamation declaring April 25, 2003, as National DNA Day. This was only meant to be a one-time observance, but the National Human Research Institute took charge of the holiday and turned it into an annual event. While this is a United States observance, some groups around the world decided to also celebrate International DNA Day on the same date.
April 25 was the date chosen to observe National DNA Day to mark the anniversary of when biologists and scientists James Watson, Maurice Wilkins, and Francis Crick first published their paper on DNA's double helix structure, in the scientific journal Nature, in 1953. This was a huge breakthrough in genealogy, and the three biologists were awarded the Nobel Prize for their discovery. DNA is the acronym for deoxyribonucleic acid, the molecule that contains the genetic code of living things.
National DNA Day also commemorates the completion of the Human Genome Project. This project started in 1990, and gathered scientists from all over the world, trying to identify all the genes of the human genome and determine the base pairs that human DNA is made of. The project was funded in part by the United States government and supported by other organizations such as the Wellcome Trust. It was declared complete on April 14, 2003, two years ahead of schedule.
The first National DNA Day was declared to celebrate the end of the Human Genome Project, and to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the discovery of DNA's double-helix structure. In that year, 2003, April was also established as Human Genome Month.
This holiday continues to celebrate those two major breakthroughs in DNA studies, but it also highlights the hard work and advancements made in the study of genomes and genetics.
DNA (short for deoxyribonucleic acid) is a molecule that contains genetic information, it can be found in all living organisms. It is a double-stranded, helical structure (A spiraling ladder) made of nucleotides, each nucleotide is comprised of:
- a sugar molecule (deoxyribose).
- a phosphate group.
- one of four nitrogenous bases: adenine (A), guanine (G), cytosine (C), or thymine (T).
The sequence of these four nucleotides in DNA is what determines an organism's genetic code. This code instructs cells how to produce proteins, which are the building blocks of life. Their arrangement is unique to each individual and species, controlling attributes such as height, and hair color.
How to Celebrate National DNA Day
There are likely to be some events and lectures, in-person and online, about DNA, genetics, and genomics. The National Human Genome Research Institute also organizes annual events for National DNA Day and encourages people to host their own. If this is something that interests you, it is a great opportunity to learn more about the topic from the world's leading scientists.
Many genealogical DNA testing companies have special National DNA Day offers and sales to celebrate this day. This means you can finally take the step to have a DNA test and learn more about your family history, your genes, and your DNA.