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The Classroom Within

Students at a handful of institutions across the US turn to their own DNA to learn about their genetic risk and ancestry. This year, students in Stanford University School of Medicine's Genetics 210 class — which the Mercury News says is open to medical students, graduate students, and undergraduates — learned about their risk for Achilles tendon injuries and dementia, but also about how closely related they are to Neandertals or whether they had a different father than they'd thought.

"I am teaching something they need to know," says Stuart Kim, a Stanford professor and co-founder of the course. "These are future scientists who need to understand the underlying concepts behind this exploding field.

Similar courses are offered by Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York, the University of Miami, Harvard Medical School, and others.

Two students in the Stanford class, twin brothers, are using what they learned to change how they exercise, the Mercury News says. Andrew and Thomas Roos, both graduate students and triathletes, learned that they have a higher risk of Achilles tendon injuries. Because of that, they changed their workout routine.

"Trying to use my own genetic information as a learning tool — that sounded like something I wanted," Thomas says.