The Genetic Code: Is it the piano that’s important, or the music played on it?
February 23, 2013
An interactive session led by Dr. Victor Raboy
Research Geneticist with the United States Department of Agriculture's Agricultural Research Service in Aberdeen, Idaho.
Dr. Raboy's travel to KTU is being supported by NSF MCB# 1051646.
Hard-working scientists have deciphered the entire computer code of life, the complete set of genes called the “genome”, of humans, other animals, plants, fish and bugs. They figured that if they knew the entire genetic code, they would understand pretty much everything about how humans, animals, plants and bugs worked. While deciphering entire genomes has greatly increased what we know about how things biological work, it turns out that just knowing the entire genetic code doesn’t explain everything. Sometimes it hardly explains anything! There are thousands of genes in a genome and each one has an “on-off” switch or a “volume control”. If the genome is the “piano” and the genes are the piano keys, then it is how all the genes are played together, just like a virtuoso’s fingers dancing over the piano keys to make music, that is ultimately important. Scientists are just beginning to understand that it’s not only the genes themselves, but how they are “played”, via a process called “epigenetics”, that can make all the difference. We will have fun learning to understand how epigenetics works, and how we can use this new knowledge to cure disease and make more nutritious vegetables for kids to eat!
Dr. Raboy is a Research Geneticist with the United States Department of Agriculture's Agricultural Research Service in Aberdeen, Idaho. He studies the genetics of corn, barley, rice and soybeans. The goal of his research is to develop genetics that can be used to improve the nutritional quality of crops.
February 23, 2013 - Hands-On Exhibits
After the interactive session the students will be escorted by their parents to have lunch and then to the hands-on portion of the event. There the students will enjoy the experience of interacting with various exhibits from the Virginia Tech community.