Do your genes decide who you are?

Magnus Nordborg, ERC Preisträger 2010:
Gregor Mendel Institute of Molecular Plant Biology GmbH, Dr. Bohrgasse 9/5, A-1030 Wien


Ort GMI – Gregor Mendel Institut für Molekulare Pflanzenbiologie
Dr. Bohr-Gasse 3, 1030 Wien
Datum 26. Juni 2017
PDF Nordborg_Flyer


There is enormous biological diversity at all levels, between as well as within species. We know now that most of these differences are due to differences in our genomes, encoded in DNA. But what does this actually mean? Your genome is 99% identical to that of a chimpanzee, and 99.9% identical to another human. Can we identify the differences in DNA that lead to differences we can see? Can we use this knowledge to understand disease? Can we predict whether a baby will be tall, smart and healthy simply using DNA? These are questions of tremendous practical importance, and they also help us understand who and what we are.

Questions to help you prepare:

  • How does Mendel’s work on peas help us understand variation in human height?
  • Why are you more similar to your close relatives than to other people?
  • What does it mean to say that a trait is genetic? What do we mean when we talk about Nature vs Nurture?
  • Can you think of some traits that are not genetic?