The 1953 discovery of the DNA double helix marked a new beginning in understanding the genetic basis of inheritance and, more recently, the Human Genome Project exponentially advanced our knowledge about genetic factors that shape a broad group of diseases. These advances facilitated the advent of genetic testing, which is currently available for over 1,200 medical conditions. The plethora of information that became available has many health-related implications and regularly receives extensive media attention, but news stories often appear with little background to help the reader understand the significance of the various concepts.

In addition to identifying a large number of genes relevant for human disease, sequencing of the human genome revealed an interesting fact: It became apparent that any two unrelated individuals are 99.9% identical ...

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