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Dna Day Essay Contest Europe Map


Does the 750 word count include images and their descriptions?

Are citations included in the word count?
In-text citations are included in the word count, but the reference list is not included.

Are headings/titles included in the word count?

Should everything be on one page or should references have a separate page?
The reference list will be submitted separately in the “references” section of the submission site. Everything will be included on one page once the essay is submitted.

Is there a standard font or margin size preferred?
No. Once the essay is copied and pasted into the submission site, it will be formatted to fit our standard margins and fonts.


Can I (a student) submit my essay myself?
Only teachers, administrators, or parents who teach their home-schooled child can submit an essay. While we encourage your current science teacher to submit your essay for you, your English teacher, another science teacher, or any other teacher who helped you can submit your essay.

What does it mean that only teachers can submit essays?
This means students cannot submit their essay themselves and must ask a teacher to do it for them. This is to encourage students to work with their teacher when they write their essay. Please keep in mind, though, that teachers of winners will receive a genetics materials grant and will be featured with the winning students in our announcements.

How do I submit my essay if a teacher cannot do it for me?
Try to find any other teacher who can submit for you. If this isn’t an option, please email us at

Can my guidance counselor submit my essay for me?

Can I submit for my student who is currently studying abroad?
The student must be studying at the same school as the teacher who submits their essay.

Can I change information after I have submitted?
No, please make sure all information is correct before submitting because it will be final.

How does the teacher vouch for the originality of the student’s work?
Your submission represents your authentication that the essays are the original work of your students.

How do I submit more essays?
Use the submission link in the confirmation email.

I submitted late. Will my essay still be judged?
All late submissions will not be judged.

Why isn’t the submission site working?
It may be your browser. Try Firefox or Chrome.
Check your email address. Your may have entered it incorrectly.
Check your submitted information. You may not have filled in all the information required.  

Where’s the confirmation email?
It may take some time for the email to get to you. If you haven’t received it by the end of the day, either check your junk mailbox or double check that the email address you provided is correct. If neither of those options work, email


Where do I find the link to volunteer as a judge?
The link was sent in the initial judge recruiting email.

What’s the judging deadline?
All judging deadlines are included in the email that was sent to you.

Can I forward this judging email to a colleague?
Please ONLY forward the judging email to colleagues who are members of ASHG.

Winners’ Site

Will I be able to read the winning essays after the competition?
Normally, we make highlights from the essay available on the winners page.

Congratulations to our winners and thank you all for participating. Happy DNA Day!

Thank you for making this another successful year! We received many submissions from students in 40 U.S. states and 21 foreign countries, including Colombia, Ukraine, and Singapore. We would also like to thank the over 500 ASHG members who participated in judging the essays!

2017 Winners

Click the names below to view essay excerpts.

Blake Holman
Lake Dallas High School
Corinth, TX
Teacher: Cynthia Powers Jio Jeong
Seoul International School
Seongnam-si, South Korea
Teacher: Eugene Lee Lucy Liu
Illinois Mathematics and Science Academy
Aurora, IL
Teacher: Crystal Randall Alleanna Marquez
Whitestation High School
Memphis, TN
Teacher: Chikezie Madu

Rhea Park
Head-Royce School
Oakland, CA
Teacher: Jennifer Brakeman Tharushi Perera
Staten Island Technical High School
Staten Island, NY
Teacher: John Davis Arielle Rothman
North Shore Hebrew Academy High School
Great Neck, NY
Teacher: Lisa Runco Julian Rubinfien
Stuyvesant High School
New York, NY
Teacher: Maria Nedwidek-Moore

Olivia Wilkes
Home School
Toney, AL
Teacher: Linda Wilkes Lina Zein
Hathaway Brown School
Shaker Heights, OH
Teacher: Sheri Homany Jacob Zinberg
Torah Academy of Bergen County
Teaneck, NJ
Teacher: Garry Katz

See where in the world our submissions come from:

About the Contest

The contest aims to challenge students to examine, question, and reflect on important ideas and issues related to human genetics. Competitive essays are expected to convey substantive, well-reasoned, and evidence-based arguments that demonstrate deep understanding.

Essays are evaluated through three rounds of judging, and every essay is read by a minimum of three judges. Top-scoring essays have typically been scored by a dozen or more judges. 

Questions/Comments: Contact

2017 Question

In the early 1990s, gene therapy was hailed as a potential treatment or cure for many genetic diseases and conditions. Unfortunately, problems during clinical trials, including the death of a patient due to a fatal immune reaction, forced scientists to re-think their strategies. Recent advances in biology have made gene therapy more promising than ever and expanded the field beyond its original concept of providing an additional, functional copy of a malfunctioning gene to specific cells. Choose one modern example of gene therapy (since 2005), describe the disease or condition researchers are attempting to treat, and explain how the therapy/approach might repair the underlying cause of the disease or condition.

Adele PengGrade 9

Teacher: Aubrie Holman
Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology
Alexandria, VA

Sophia SpiegelGrade 11

Teacher: Judith Pinto
Bergen County Academies
Hackensack, NJ

Alvin YaGrade 12

Teacher: Mary Alice Adah
Poolesville High School
Poolesville, MD