The human body (and animal or plant bodies often too) is made up of trillions of tiny cells and most have a sort of headquarters, the nucleus that contains your genes. Genetics is the study of these genes. It studies how different genetic qualities, called traits, are passed down from parents to child. Genetics helps explain what makes you unique, why family members look alike, and why some diseases run in families. When we trace the paths of these qualities, we are following packages of information called genes. Your mix of genes is unique to you—even your full brothers or sisters have a slightly different mix. Genes are instructions for building the parts of your body and doing the work that keeps you alive, from carrying oxygen to digesting to food and everything else we do. The genes are grouped into collections called chromosomes. Most humans have 23 pairs of chromosomes.

Table of Contents: Help Me Understand Genetics

  1. Cells and DNA  - Cells, genes, and chromosomes
  2. How Genes Work - Proteins, cell growth, and cell division
  3. Mutations and Health - Gene mutations, chromosomal changes, and conditions that run in families
  4. Inheriting Genetic Conditions - Inheritance patterns and understanding risk
  5. Genetic Consultation - Finding and visiting a genetic counselor or other genetics professional
  6. Genetic Testing - Benefits, costs, risks, and limitations of genetic testing
  7. Gene Therapy - Experimental techniques, safety, ethics, and availability
  8. The Human Genome Project - Sequencing and understanding the human genome
  9. Genomic Research - Next steps in studying the human genome


The "Help Me Understand Genetics" section is from the National Library of Medicine NLM and presents basic information about genetics in clear language and provides links to online resources. 

From: National Library of Medicine (NLM)