Today is April 25th, 2020 and no, it is not only the anniversary of the Hubble space telescope being launched into orbit by the Discovery Shuttle, but also National DNA day. What does National DNA day commemorate you may ask? Well, it is basically the day scientists and fellow biology enthusiasts get together to celebrate the discovery of DNA (instructions for how living things will look and function) and the revolutionary people who helped make its discovery. This day, which is organized by the Human Genome Research Institute, inspires people to learn more about the internal components that make them unique, more specifically their genome structure in which no other person on earth has an identical set. With that introduction over with, let’s get into the history of National DNA Day and what makes it so notable to have a whole day dedicated to it.
On April 25, 1953, molecular biologist James Watson published his research paper (which he wrote along with Francis Crick and Maurice Wilkins, two other very notable biologists at the time) on the double-helix structure of Deoxyribonucleic acid or DNA in the scientific journal Nature, the world’s leading multidisciplinary science journal. Nine years later the three men won the Nobel prize in Physiology or medicine. This discovery marked an important day as for the first time in history, humans has started to gain access to the structure of DNA which in the future would help in the investigations of disease pathways, assess an individual’s genetic susceptibility specific diseases, diagnose genetic disorders and formulate new drugs.
All in all, you can see why National DNA day is so remarkable even as we are into Day 87 of the Coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic. So while you go about your day, think about all the genetic advances we have made this century, such as CRISPR and mapping genomes. Most importantly remember the breakthrough that occurred 67 years ago that started all the advances we have made in the genetics field today and how extraordinary it really was, back then and today.
National Human Genome Research Institute (January 29, 2020). Genome.Gov: About DNA Day.
Retrieved from https://www.genome.gov/dna-day/about
Pray, L. (2008) Discovery of DNA structure and function: Watson and Crick. Nature Education 1(1):100
Retrieved from https://www.nature.com/scitable/topicpage/discovery-of-dna-structure-and-function-watson-397/
NobelPrize.org (April 26, 2020). The Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine 1962. Nobel Media AB
Retrieved from https://www.nobelprize.org/prizes/medicine/1962/summary/
Roberts, J. (April 14, 2020). The Times: Messrs. Mendel, Watson and Crick left a legacy.
Retrieved from https://thetimes24-7.com/Content/Columnists/Columnists/Article/Messrs-Mendel-Watson-and-Crick-left-a-legacy/13/163/65401