Hello everyone! This week was me trying to navigate and incorporate the new ideas (social and ethical) into my experiment and project. But before I get into that, I went into the lab on Tuesday to retry the PCR. I used a higher concentration of my genomic DNA (about 20 microliters) and I made a 1 percent gel so I could see the results faster. Once again, the PCR failed. This means something else needs to be adjusted in the procedure. It’s most likely the temperature we heat the sample to in the thermo cycler. The temperature matters because when we heat the DNA, we need the right temperature for the primers to attach to the correct portion of the genetic code, to ultimately target the specific portion of DNA I’m looking at. This process is called annealing temperature. If you don’t get the right temperature, mispriming and nonspecific amplification can occur.
After the lab day, I began rethinking how I could incorporate the ethical and social concerns of genetic research into my project. In order to kickstart this train of thought, I had the amazing opportunity to interview Dr. Susan Persky, the head of the Health Communication and Behavior Unit and the National Human Genome Research Institute. Dr. Persky is doing incredible research about how our genes and environment influence things like our eating behavior and interactions with others. Her and her team are working on simulating scenarios with virtual reality, and investigating how we can combine virtual reality with teaching about social science. We talked about how complex gene and environment interactions are, and how our genes do and don’t define certain things about us. This is exactly what I want to continue to incorporate into my project.
Going forward, I will continue the experiment but incorporate interviews with the participants, asking them questions about themselves, and if they believe their genetics properly defines them. One’s genes can say alot about someone, but one’s own personal reflection means more in my opinion. I will also continue to research the psychological impact of genetic research, and learn more about the ways we can teach individuals about their genes and how they interact with their environment.