The only thing you need to know to help classify your variant is that people inherit variants for disease risk genes from one of their parents who has the same variant.
If you want to learn more about genetics, there are many groups devoted to helping educate the public about genetics.
Genetics Education Resources
- Genetic Home Reference: Help Me Understand Genetics – Created by the U.S. National Library of Medicine, this database contains articles aimed at an introductory level.
- Learn Genetics – Created by the University of Utah, this website has many short presentations, videos, and interactive articles that can help you visualize a concept.
- DNA From the Beginning – If you’re wondering how we’ve learned all we know about genes, this website created by Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory teaches a history of genetics research.
- My46 – My46 is a service of the University of Washington, and includes an introduction to genetics and descriptions of many genetic diseases.
- Genetic Alliance – Genetic Alliance is a nonprofit network of more than 1,200 disease-specific advocacy organizations as well as thousands of universities, private companies, government agencies, and public policy organizations.
Here we’ve organized a few of these websites by topic.
Genetics Education Sites by Topic
What is a Gene?
Genes are short sections of your DNA. Genes influence our whole bodies and the functions of all our cells.
- A presentation by the Learn Genetics program that shows the relationship between genes and body parts.
- This interactive article, also by Learn Genetics, shows the various parts of a gene.
What are Variants?
Genes come in several versions, like flavors of a food. While we all have the same genes, the version of a specific gene you have may be slightly different than the version your best friend has. The differences or changes are what we mean when we say “Variant.”
Where Do Our Genes Come From?
The version of gene you get is determined by two factors: heredity and mutations.
Either you get a version of the gene your parents had (heredity), or you’re the first person to have the version (mutation).
How Does Heredity Work?
We all get and keep two versions of each gene, one from each parent. You share half your genes with each parent, a quarter with each grandparent, an eighth with each great-grandparent and so on for all your direct ancestors. Because siblings share parents, two siblings’ genes will overlap 50%. Inheritance patterns vary, but if you’re trying to find somebody else with the same variant in a gene as you have, your closest relatives are the best shot.
What is A Mutation?
The versions of genes we get are not always reproduced with perfect accuracy; when there’s a variant in a gene wasn’t present before, it is called a mutation. If your variant is caused by a mutation in yourself, then many of your descendants will have this variant, but none of your ancestors or cousins would have this variant.