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Genetics & Medical Family History
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This course (formerly titled Genetics and Genealogy) is designed to introduce the genealogist to a different way of seeing family tree research—as a source of genetic information. It can be fun to track that characteristic chin through the family, or even lifesaving to document ancestors and cousins with diabetes or cancer. The course will cover a bit on traits (i.e. genes), pedigree drawing and describing relationships, recognizing simple hereditary patterns and the reason they occur, basic rules for ethically assembling a medical pedigree, and common sources used to uncover physical traits. Upon completing the course the student should be able to gather and evaluate basic genealogical sources, have some knowledge of what traits are and how they are inherited, and draw a simple medical pedigree to show a physician.

Note: This course gives the student some basic exposure to the subject. It is not sufficient for in-depth interpretation of pedigrees or for the professional researcher who wishes to offer genetics as an area of their professional genealogical specialties.

This course is based on the assumption that you are knowledgeable in the basic methods of genealogical research but have no background in biological science. It is recommended that those considering this course feel comfortable with all materials covered in our Methodology Part 1, Part 2, and Part 3 courses. There is much information to be compressed into a short period, and basic research methodology will not be included. To get the most out of this course, do not spend time trying to memorize disease names and their descriptions unless it is for your own interest. You will not be tested on this information. It is more important to understand the concepts that are covered.

Course Content

Module 1
Introduction to Genetics/Medical History
Genetics & the Individual
• Genetics—the Basics
• Genes
• Chromosomes
Genetics of Families - Pedigrees
• Drawing a Pedigree or Kinship Chart
• Splitting Heirs
• Relativity
References & Further Reading
Appendix A
• Computer Programs for Use in Genealogical Genetics

Module 2
Simple Patterns In Pedigrees
Dominant Inheritance
• Examples of Dominant Conditions
Recessive Inheritance
• Examples of Recessive Conditions
X-Linked Inheritance
• Examples of X-linked Conditions

Module 3
Overview of Genetic Genealogy Testing
What is DNA?
• atDNA Testing
• yDNA Testing
• mtDNA Testing
• X-Chromosome Results

Module 4
The Ethical Pedigree
Introduction - The Bad Morning
• Basic Rules of the Ethical Pedigree
• The Pedigree as Medical Record
• To Include or Not to Include
• To Tell or Not to Tell

Module 5
Beginning The Medical Pedigree
Start Close To Home
• What are Your Goals?
• Basic Genealogy Principles; also Help with Pedigrees
• Scour Every Drawer
• Study Those Photos!
• Talk to the Living
Topics to Include When Interviewing
• The Big Picture (Face, Head, Neck, Skin, Arms, Legs)
• Organs (Brain, Heart, Lungs, Stomach)
• More Organs (Liver, Kidneys, Bladder, Pancreas...)
• Immune System
• Fertility
• Specific Diseases
• Behaviours & Mental Abilities
• After All These Questions

Module 6
Sifting The Records
Sources From Common Repositories
• Birth, Marriage & Death Registrations
• Census Returns
• Newspapers
• Burial Records, Tombstone Inscriptions & Funeral Home Records
Further Resources
• Daybooks, Psychiatric Records

Module 7
Putting Your Research Together
Medical Reference Tools
• Sorting Through the Bafflegab
• The Misdiagnosis Minefield
Looking More Closely at the Records
• Patterns in Your Pedigree
Genealogy: Out of the Archives & Into the Lab
Appendix B
• Resources

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