Human Genetics: Backgrounders and Resources

FASEB Breakthroughs and Horizons in Bioscience – This series of essays and one-pagers illustrate recent breakthroughs in specific areas of biomedical research and their importance to society.

U.K. Science Media Centre Factsheets – Written for journalists, these briefings and fact sheets provide an overview of various scientific topics, including many related to human genetics.

The American Medical Association (AMA) Resources – Written for physicians, these pages review key terms and up-to-date information on specific medical topics, including many social, ethical, and legal issues related to medical genetics.

CDC Resources

NIH Resources

Genetic Alliance Resources


Glossaries of Genetics Terms

ASHG & Genetic Alliance: “Alphabet Soup: Genetic Terms & Acronyms for Consumers”– A list of the names and acronyms of key genetics organizations, plus definitions of basic genetics terms

National Human Genome Research Institute (NIH/NHGRI): “Talking Glossary of Genetic Terms” – An interactive and searchable online glossary to help people without scientific backgrounds understand terms and concepts used in genetic research

Human Genome Project (HGP) Genetics Dictionary: “Genomics and Its Impact on Medicine and Society: A Primer” – Definitions and explanations of basic genetics terms and concepts

University of Kansas Medical Center: “Glossaries of Genome/Human Genetics Terms” – A comprehensive set of links to online genetic glossaries and dictionaries


Resources on Health and Science Reporting

National Association of Science Writers Resources – Aimed at science writers, these resources and tools help staff and freelance writers improve their work, find stories, and advance their careers.

Association of Health Care Journalists Resources – Aimed at journalists, these publications provide tips and guidance for covering issues related to medicine and health.

U.K. Social Issues Research Centre: “Guidelines on Science and Health Communication” (November 2001)

Related Organizations

The following groups support and advance science, health, and medical journalism, and extend the professional expertise of writers in this field.

For Science Writers

For Health/Medical Writers

For Science and Health Educators


Research Findings on Genetics Coverage in the Media

Jenny Donovan and Grady Venville. Exploring the influence of the mass media on primary students’ conceptual understanding of genetics (February 2012). International Journal of Primary, Elementary, and Early Years Education.

Monya Baker. Genome studies: Genetics by numbers (January 2008). Nature News.

Timothy Caulfield et alMyriad and the mass media: The covering of a gene patent controversy (December 2007). Genetics in Medicine.

Anders Hansen. Tampering with nature: ‘Nature’ and the ‘natural’ in media coverage of genetics and biotechnology (November 2006). Media Culture and Society.

Toby A. Ten Eyck. The media and public opinion on genetics and biotechnology: Mirrors, windows, or walls? (July 2005) Public Understanding of Science.

Gail Geller et alScientists’ and science writers’ experiences reporting genetic discoveries: Toward an ethic of trust in science journalism (March 2005). Genetics in Medicine.

Tania M. Bubela and Timothy A. Caulfield. Do the print media ‘hype’ genetic research? A comparison of newspaper stories and peer-reviewed research papersCanadian Medical Association Journal.

Gail Geller et alThe media and public reaction to genetic research (February 2002). Journal of the American Medical Association.

Alan Petersen. Biofantasies: Genetics and medicine in the print news media (April 2001). Social Science and Medicine.

Muin J. Khoury et alChallenges in communicating genetics: A public health approach (May/June 2000). Genetics in Medicine.