How Do We Inherit Our Biological Characteristics

How Do We Inherit Our Biological Characteristics?

Shelly Peretz
Science Department Chairperson
Thornridge High School

Office Phone: 708-225-4585

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Photograph taken from Genetic Pathology Gallery: Cytogenetics, University of Washington Medical Center.

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Individuals, families, health care providers and policymakers face important health care decisions every day. Today, with the growing awareness of the role that genetics plays in our society, decision-making requires more information than ever before. This project uses principles of biology to examine human genetics disorders. Students work in small groups (2-3) on projects which give them the opportunity to understand human genetic diseases, collect data from remote sources, and process that data to arrive at conceptual models of how human traits are inherited. Since the Internet, particularly the World Wide Web, provides up-to-the-minute information about our world, it is only natural that this resource be effectively utilized, hence the design of this project.

This home page is intended to serve as a starting point for your exploration of human genetic disease. In effect, this is "command central" for the project. Your assignments, in-class exercises, and in some cases, your project reports will be found through links from this springboard. You will also find forums (support groups, newsgroups, and listservs) for the exchange of information on the condition and the experience of living with it for patients and their families.

To learn more about how to make the most of your communications on the Internet, I strongly suggest that you read, Working with the Usenet Community or The PolitenessMan's Guide to Netiquette.

Your team may choose from the following human genetic disorders, or you may choose to write your own case study:

Cystic Fibrosis

Cystic fibrosis (CF) is the number one genetic killer of children and young adults in this country.

Marfan Syndrome

"I'm six feet tall because I have Marfan Syndrome, a potentially fatal genetic connective tissue disorder." There is speculation that Abraham Lincoln and Niccolo Paganini both had Marfan Syndrome.

Huntington's Disease

Nancy Wexler has a personal reason for wanting to make these monumental discoveries. She and her sister are "at risk," since their mother died from this hereditary disorder.

Breast Cancer Awareness Emblem

Breast Cancer

Breast cancer is the most common type of cancer in women, with approximately one in nine women developing the disease in her lifetime.

Fragile X Syndrome

Fragile X is the most common form of inherited mental retardation.


Hemophilia is the most common hereditary blood disorder.

Tourette Syndrome

Mahmoud Abdul-Rauf, a player for the NBA's Denver Nuggets, has the condition.

Sickle Cell

In the United States, more than 50,000 people suffer from sickle cell anemia.

Write Your Own Case Study

The popular press and media are good sources of current topics.

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