The “Timeline of the Human Genome” is one of the most popular interactive learning tools on the Genome: Unlocking Life’s Code website. Featuring an animated display that “zips” together as you browse, the timeline begins with Mendel’s work with peas in the mid-1800s, includes landmark events in genetics and genomics, and culminates with completion of the Human Genome Project.
The timeline readily reveals the story of human research into the fields of genetics and genomics. After Mendel, more than a century elapsed before scientists developed the techniques required to sequence DNA. Modern DNA sequencing began in 1977 with the advent of new technologies for rapidly decoding DNA. In 1995 a bacterium, Haemophilus influenzae, became the first organism to have its genome sequence reported; the fruit fly followed in 2000, and the mouse genome in 2002. Complete sequencing of the human genome was announced in 2003.
Comprising 19 classic images ranging from Gregor Mendel in 1865 to the completion of the Human Genome Project in 2003, the “Timeline of the Human Genome” aligns along two vertical strands on the computer screen. As viewers scroll up and down, these two strands – one displaying the image of a person or object, the other showing the corresponding date and landmark event – zip and unzip rather like double-stranded DNA, cleverly pairing each image with its caption. Clicking the mouse on “view details” opens a pop-up window with a larger image and short description of the milestone and its importance. Fully viewable and interactive on Macs and PCs, as well as iPads, tablets, and mobile phones.
In the past 150 years, our knowledge of human genetics – and, eventually, the human genome – has developed into a powerful research tool employed to understand human inheritance, forensics, health and disease, and increasingly personalized approaches to medical care.
The “Timeline of the Human Genome” places the most noteworthy topics in human genomics in a historical context that transcends narrow disciplines. By providing a tantalizing introduction to each topic, the timeline encourages viewers to search further and learn more. For example, a possible classroom activity might match each student (or group) with a Timeline entry to structure class presentations, written reports, or debates. The timeline also supports the teaching of several Discipline Core ideas in the Next Generation Science Standards.
About the Creators:
The “Timeline of the Human Genome” concept was developed for the Genome: Unlocking Life’s Code website by the National Human Genome Research Institute’s Education and Community Involvement Branch.