Thursday, January 15, 2009


Seeing as a lot of people I love have been to Iraq or Afghanistan (or elsewhere with the military), I thought it was relevant to post these two links. The first is a comic book designed as a final project to the Comparative Genomics course taught here at Penn State, and the second is a compilation of photos set to music by the same student that developed the comic book. 

The comic is the result of a project studying potential genetic elements that might make a person more or less susceptible to experiencing Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). The student describes it as "Trauma in the Brain: A Conceptual Comic Book about Psychiatric Diseases and Our Genes." In just a semester he was able to identify a putative allele (a variant of a gene) that, when present, is linked to an increased likelihood of experiencing PTSD.

To explain what an allele of a gene is, take this example:
Assume Gene1 determines eye color. All people have Gene1, but there are many variants (alleles) of Gene1, such that one variant (or allele), we'll call it Gene1A will cause brown eyes in one person while a different variant (or allele) of the same gene, we'll call it Gene1B will cause blue eyes. Thus, two people having brown eyes and blue eyes, respectively, does not mean that the two people have different "genes", just that they each have a different allele (or variant) of the same gene. 

So, initial work with this student's project seems to indicate that one variant of the same gene may make one person more inclined to experience PTSD than those without this particular variant.

Please share these with all veterans (and non-veterans) in your life.

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