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High School Workshop


Held in conjunction with ASHG's Annual Meeting, the High School Workshop is a free full-day workshop for local high school students and their teachers. Students participate in inquiry-based, hands-on genetics lessons presented by distinguished speakers on a variety of topics including complex traits, genetics and sports, and DNA forensics. This outreach activity is organized by ASHG's Information and Education Committee.


2016 Workshop Information


Vancouver Convention Centre
Vancouver, British Columbia
Tuesday, October 18, 2016
8:15 am to 2:40 pm


Space is limited to 150 students and their teachers. Although a free continental breakfast and lunch are provided, teachers must arrange their own transportation. Please do not register if you are unable to attend the entire workshop.


Registration for the workshop is now FULL. Click here to put your name on the wait list. The schedule can be found here.


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Breakout Sessions


Complex Traits

In school, we focus our attention on how a single gene can influence one trait, like tongue rolling, dimples, and widow’s peak.  However, the combined effects of many different genes cause most variation among individuals. Examples include height, weight, skin color, hair color, cholesterol levels, and intelligence. In this session, students will use pom-poms to investigate the effects of multiple genes on a single trait - in this case, height.

DNA Forensics

Members of the same species are more genetically alike than different, yet only identical twins share exactly the same DNA sequence. Find out how forensic detectives tease out slight differences in DNA sequence to identify individuals. Students will discover the power and pitfalls of DNA identification analysis as they work to solve a “whodunnit” mystery, constructing and comparing DNA profiles to piece together crucial evidence that may – or may not – “make their case”.

Family History

Did Grandfather Joe have Alzheimer’s disease? If so, does that mean that you're at risk of getting the disease, too? In this session, students will explore the power of family history information. They will construct pedigrees, follow the inheritance of several different types of traits, and try to make predictions based on their evidence.

Genetics and Sports: What can DNA tell us about athletic performance?

What makes for a great athlete on the high school track team or in the NFL? Is there really “a speed gene"? Would you like to know if your DNA held any clues about which sports you might be best at? How do environmental factors fit into the puzzle? How is genetic information being used to screen athletes for medical conditions and injury risk? In this session, students will explore the emerging scientific and ethical questions behind using genetic analysis to probe a person's athletic potential as well as health issues related to concussions, sickle cell trait, and a heart condition that can be particularly dangerous for athletes.

Luck of the Draw: A Genetics Ethics Game

Just because one can do something does not mean that it should be done. That is the dilemma that we face in the new era of genetics and genetic engineering. Is choosing traits for one’s children a desired outcome of progress in molecular genetics? In a recent national survey about 10% of people seeking genetic counseling would prefer a child with greater intelligence, height, or athletic ability. In this session, students will justify choosing specific traits for their child, then acquire points used to buy additional traits. The more points a student has, the greater their choices, giving students the chance to experience the fact that not everyone has equal means.


General Sessions


Career Panel (NEW!)

This general session will give workshop attendees valuable insight to both the traditional and nontraditional trajectories for careers in genetics. Our panel of experts will discuss their current positions and the steps they took to get to where they are now. The names of our panelists are included below. Time will be given at the end of the presentation to allow for questions from the audience.

Jannine Cody, University of Texas Health Science Center
Dawn Delozier, Saint Agnes Cancer Center
Carla Easter, National Human Genome Research Institute
Vinayak Kottoor, Mission Health
Loraine Oman-Ganes, Sun Life Financial

The Spirit of Difference

Speaker Rick Guidotti is a former high-fashion photographer who founded the not-for-profit organization Positive Exposure in 1998. Positive Exposure utilizes photography and video to transform public perceptions of people living with genetics, physical, and behavioral differences - from albinism to autism.

See what past attendees have to say:


"I enjoyed all the hands-on activities and how they were integrated into the talks. Students were engaged, challenged & interested through all the problem-solving exercises."


- 2015 Teacher


"I pretty much enjoy[ed] all the workshop [breakouts] because they were engaging and I [got] to learn some new things."


- 2015 Student


"I honestly found it all to be amazing. I really appreciated the interactiveness of each breakout because it got everyone involved."


-2014 Teacher



Questions about the workshop? Email ASHG Educational Programs


The American Society of Human Genetics, Incorporated

9650 Rockville Pike • Bethesda, Maryland 20814 • 1-866-HUM-GENE • (301) 634-7300

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