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DNA Day Essay Contest: Unlocking the Mystery of Life

The DNA Day Essay Contest is a global competition that challenges students to explore the wonders of genetics and relate their findings to the everyday world. The contest is open to high school students aged 14 to 19 years old, and it is organized by ASHG (American Society of Human Genetics) every year.

If you’re a high school student interested in genetics or a teacher looking for a fun challenge for your students, participating in this contest can be a fantastic opportunity. Here’s all the information you need to know about this prestigious annual event.

The History of DNA Day

On April 25, 1953, James Watson, Francis Crick, Maurice Wilkins, and Rosalind Franklin published a paper in Nature describing the double helix structure of DNA. Sixty-nine years later, this discovery is still considered one of the most significant in science, and it paved the way for the development of genetics and biotechnology.

In 2003, the Human Genome Project was completed, and the same day that project was complete, April 25, the very first DNA Day was celebrated. The ASHG declared DNA Day as the time to honor both the discovery of the double helix and the completion of the human genome. This day has since been established as the annual worldwide celebration of genetic research and advances in Genome biology.

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The DNA essay contest, first conducted in 2005, started as a peripheral event to carry the significance of DNA day to a younger audience.

What is the DNA Day Essay Contest?

In an essay of up to 750 words, students can explore a genetic concept of their choosing and consider how recent advances in genetics have impacted society today. The DNA Day Essay Contest encourages students to “think about how the field of genetics impacts today’s world and how it will shape future generations.”

The competition aims to:

  • Encourage an interest in genetics and genomics among students.
  • Foster an appreciation of good written communication skills by rewarding well-written essays.
  • Provide students with an opportunity to showcase their writing skills.
  • Encourage young people to think critically about the role of genetics in their lives.

Prizes and Awards

Winners of the DNA Day Essay Contest win cash prizes and recognition through various platforms.

  • One winner will receive a $2,000 cash prize.
  • One runner-up will receive a $1,200 cash prize.
  • Honorable mentions (10 per contest) will receive a $150 cash prize.
  • The winner and the runner-up will have their names published on the ASHG website and in the ASHG monthly newsletter.
  • Additionally, the essay of the winner will be published in “The Genetics Society of America Journal”.

Key Dates for the Contest

Contest submission opens in September each year and closes in March of the following year. The winners are announced in early April each year. Here are the key dates for the current and upcoming contests:

  • Submission period opens: September 1st of each year
  • Submission deadline: March 3rd of the following year
  • Winners announced: April 25th of each year
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How to Participate in the Contest

High school students need to submit their essays online or by mail, following the guidelines laid down by the ASHG. The essay contest is open to students around the world who are in grades 9-12 attending public, private, or home schools.

Essays will be evaluated by the judges based on:

  • Relevance to the contest topic
  • Accuracy and creativity of scientific concepts
  • Quality of writing
  • Use of credible, properly cited sources

Key Takeaways

  • The DNA Day Essay Contest is a worldwide competition for high school students that aims to encourage an interest in genetics and genomics.
  • Students can write an essay of up to 750 words on a genetic concept of their choosing.
  • Prizes include cash awards, publication of the essay in a renowned journal, and recognition through various platforms.
  • The contest is open to high school students from around the world, attending public, private, or home schools.


The DNA Day Essay Contest is a fantastic platform that not only helps young researchers show off their writing and research skills but also encourages the study of genetics and biotechnology. By taking part in this contest, students can explore the mysteries of genetics and their everyday applications.

If you are a high school student with a passion for genetics and writing, you should not miss this opportunity.


Who can participate in the DNA Day Essay Contest?

The competition is open to high school students aged 14 to 19 years old, attending public, private, or home schools from around the world.

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What is the word limit for the essay?

The essay should be between 500-750 words in length.

How many prizes are awarded for the contest?

One winner and one runner-up receive cash prizes of $2,000 and $1,200, respectively. Additionally, Honorable mentions (10 per contest) are awarded a $150 cash prize.

When is the submission deadline?

The submission deadline for the contest is March 3rd of each year.

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