Key Terms: Personalized Medicine and Genetic Testing


Chromosome- the physical structure found in the nucleus of cells that contains a string of genes composed of DNA and proteins. Humans have 46 chromosomes: two copies each of 22 autosomes and 2 sex chromosomes – either 2 “X” chromosome in the case of females or an “X” and a “Y” in the case of males.

Enzyme- a type of protein that facilitates or accelerates chemical changes in the body, like those that occur in digestion.

Genetics- the science of heredity, or how traits are passed down biologically from parents to offspring.

Genome- the complete set of genes found in a species.

Human Genome Project- an international effort led by the United States’ National Institutes of Health and Department of Energy to identify the genes that make up the human genome. To read learn more about the project, visit the US Department of Energy Human Genome Project Information site here or view 2001 NU symposium “The Human Genome Project: Progress, Problems, and Prospects.”

Personalized Medicine- using genomics to tailor medical care to individuals based on their genetic makeup. For more information, read the article "What is Personalized Medicine?" by Rex Chisholm.

Protein- multiple chains of amino acids (compounds of the elements nitrogen, hydrogen, carbon, and oxygen) linked in an order dictated by the genetic code to perform a specific function within a cell. Proteins are fundamental components of all living organisms.