2018 DNA Day Essay Contest Winners

Congratulations to our winners and thank you all for participating. Happy DNA Day!

Thank you for making this another successful year! We received many submissions from students in 43 U.S. states and 22 non-US countries, including Ukraine, Kazakhstan, and Saudi Arabia. We would also like to thank the ASHG members who participated in judging the essays!

2018 Question


Traditionally, genetic testing for diagnosis or risk of disease has been done in conjunction with medical professionals, such as genetic counselors. These professionals are experts not only in genetics, but also in counseling patients and family members about the benefits and potential harms of learning about a disease risk. Today, this traditional route is not the only option: direct-to-consumer genetic testing, offered by several companies, does not require a medical professional. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has established a process by which companies can provide predictive testing for certain disorders, in addition to common traits such as straight or wavy hair.

Do you think medical professionals should be required for all genetic testing, or should consumers have direct access to predictive genetic testing? In defending your answer, use at least one disorder to explore the implications of involving, and not involving, a medical professional such as a genetic counselor.


2018 Winners

1st Place: Diane Zhang, Grade 11
Teacher: Ms. Stephanie Peborde
School: Fox Lane High School
Location: Bedford, NY

2nd Place: Ilan Bocian, Grade 11
Teacher: Mrs. Vickie Bellomo
School: YULA-Boys
Location: Los Angeles, CA

3rd Place: Nadia O’Hara, Grade 9
Teacher: Mrs. Audra Santos
School: Pechersk School International
Location: Kyiv, Ukraine

Honorable Mentions

Blair Atherton
Home School
Avon, IL
Teacher: Mrs. Tina Atherton
Manali Nayak
Dr. Ninad Sheode’s Physics Coaching Class
Pune, India
Teacher: Dr. Ninad Sheode
Jaeho Hwang
Seoul International School
Seoul, South Korea
Teacher: Mr. Chris Koester
Fiona Oh
Homestead High School
Cupertino, CA
Teacher: Mrs. Jessica Wakefield
“Amy” Seunghyun Kim
Korea International School, Jeju
Seogwipo-si, South Korea
Teacher: Mr. Michael Palmer
Sarah Weber
Albuquerque Academy
Albuquerque, NM
Teacher: Mrs. Miranda Fleig
Kenton Kryger
Battle Creek Area Math & Science Center
Battle Creek, MI
Teacher: Mrs. Lindsey Keller
Lena Wood
Scarborough High School
Scarborough, ME
Teacher: Mr. Jonathan York
Cindy Li
Smithtown High School East
St. James, NY
Teacher: Ms. Maria Zeitlin
Camille Zywczyk
Palm Beach Central High School
Wellington, FL
Teacher: Mr. William Bartenslager

Where in the world our submissions come from:

About the Contest

The contest aims to challenge students to examine, question, and reflect on important ideas and issues related to human genetics. Competitive essays are expected to convey substantive, well-reasoned, and evidence-based arguments that demonstrate deep understanding.

Essays are evaluated through three rounds of judging, and every essay is read by a minimum of three judges. Top-scoring essays have typically been scored by a dozen or more judges.

Questions/Comments: Contact dnaday@ashg.org

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