W5 - Genetics, Risk and Lifestyle

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Genetics, Risk and Lifestyle

Genetics, Risk and Lifestyle; can I blame it on my genes?

This is a toolbox of teacher resources aimed at AS/A2 biology pupils. This programme has been supported by the Wellcome Trust. It has been developed by W5 in partnership with the CRC UK Centre of Excellence in Public Health (NI) and the School of Psychology at Queen's University, Belfast.  It was trailed with Post Primary Schools throughout Northern Ireland and a School in the Republic of Ireland over a two year period.


Since the mapping of the human genome in 2003, we now know more than ever about our DNA, genetics and inheritance. However, as we learn and discover more about how we inherit traits and diseases, it is becoming clear that the picture is more complicated than it first appeared. For a start, humans have less genes than scientists originally thought and it is apparent that often it is genes interacting with other genes and with other molecules in the body that can lead to certain diseases. Lifestyle choice can therefore play a major role in determining the fate of our genes. Yet, in this blame- rich society we live in there is a tendency to ignore the risks that we take in our lifestyle choices and instead 'blame it on our genes'.

Toolbox Contents

The toolbox provides you with lesson plans, Power Points and pupil activities to help you teach the following:

• How lifestyle choices may affect their future health 
• The Psychology of Risk
• Skin Cancer
• The role of genome wide association studies (GWAS)
• Understanding PCR and gel electrophoresis - activity with genetics of Hyper Cholesterol anemia 
• The lifestyle and genetic influences on common diseases such as skin cancer and heart disease
• An opportunity to discuss the ethical implications of modern genetic testing

The toolbox also provides

• Supplementary activities/information related to the topics
• Further background information for pupils.

If you would like more information or would like to speak to a member of staff regarding this programme please contact:

Sean Greer

e-mail: seangreer@w5online.co.uk
Tel: 028 9046 7836

* Also see our A level genetics workshop Hands-on DNA, in which pupils can carry out gel electrophoresis for themselves.


  • Lesson Plans
  • Presentations
  • Lesson Activities
  • Additional Material