Annual DNA Day Essay Contest

martyna p Competitions

ASHG is proud to support National DNA Day through the Annual DNA Day Essay Contest. DNA Day commemorates the completion of the Human Genome Project in April 2003 and the discovery of the double helix of DNA in 1953.

This contest is open to students in grades 9-12 worldwide and asks students to examine, question, and reflect on important concepts in genetics. Essays are expected to be well-reasoned arguments that indicate a deep understanding of scientific concepts related to the essay question. They are evaluated by ASHG members through three rounds of scoring.

2021 Question

All humans are 99.9% genetically identical at the DNA level. Remarkably, just a small fraction (0.1%) of our DNA contributes to the different characteristics among populations around the world and that make every person unique. Important discoveries in human genetics and genomics often rely on comparing groups of people, for example people with a given disease compared to people without the disease. These studies utilize genomic data from individuals who have contributed their DNA for research purposes, most of which (approximately 80%) are individuals of European ancestry. How does this population representation impact genomic findings? Can the data and results of these studies still be useful for studies in other populations from around the world? Discuss whether inclusion of more diverse populations in genetic and genomic studies holds a potential to benefit future genetic research and improve human health.

Important Dates

  • Early January 2021: Submission site opens
  • Wednesday, March 3, 2021: Submission site closes
  • Friday, April 23, 2021: Winners and Honorable Mentions announced
  • Sunday, April 25, 2021 : DNA Day


1st Place Winner: $1,000 for student
$1,000 genetics materials grant

2nd Place Winner: $600 for student
$600 genetics materials grant

3rd Place Winner: $400 for student
$400 genetics materials grant

Honorable Mentions: 10 student prizes of $100 each

View the 2020 winners and their essays on the results page.

Official website: