Questions for ‘Your DNA is an open book — but can’t yet be fully read’


There are many companies that offer to read your DNA, but they can’t fulfill all the promises you see in their ads.


To accompany feature “Your DNA is an open book — but can’t yet be fully read” 


Before Reading

1.  There are lots of advertisements for companies that will “test” your DNA. What do these companies promise to do? Look up three online and compare what they offer.

2.  Do you know anyone who has had their DNA tested (sequenced)? What did they learn?

During Reading

1.  Give three examples of what companies that test DNA for people promise to tell their customers based on those tests.

2.  What is precision, or personalized, medicine?

3.  Why does Gail Jarvik say that you should desire a boring genome?

4.  Why does Leslie Biesecker say that genome sequencing is not very useful for most people?

5.  What are SNPs?

6.  What is the difference between “dominant” and “recessive” genes?

7.  What are polygenic traits?

8.  Why would a DNA testing company tell you about genes related to earlobe shape?

9.  Why does Christopher Gardner say that it’s not yet possible to make decisions about diet based on your genes?

10.  How could DNA testing be useful when making decisions about what drugs a person should or shouldn’t take?

After Reading

1. If you were offered a free test, would you accept to have your DNA sequenced? Why or why not? Use evidence from the story to explain your answer.

2. Would you agree to let the testing company share your data with others? Why or why not?

3. Imagine that you’ve had your DNA tested by two companies. One tells you that you should eat a low-fat diet. The other tells you nothing about diet at all. Will you change what you eat? Explain your answer. Use evidence from the story to inform that answer.