Let a Geneticist Into Your Genes

As I lay in my bed after church attempting to have a short nap, which despite my great fatigue was ultimately a failed endeavor, I pondered on what glimpse I might provide into my increasingly uneventful stint in the Old Dominion, I realized that I effectively have no life. The thing is, I cannot complain too much about my sad state of affairs because, in the immortal words of Radiohead: “[I] do it to [my]self, [I] do. That’s what really hurts. [I] do it to [my]self, just [me], [me] and no one else.”

But how has this happened? I’m pretty hip, right? I could get some (strictly platonic) action, couldn’t I? The answer, my friends, is yes—yes I could. However, last fall, I was tempted by that wily short-term class devil, who lured me into its grasp with a light end to the semester and no exam, only to bind me with the silken cords of an extremely arduous schedule with classes that begin on most days at 9:00 AM and end on all days at 6:15 from Jan 22 until Feb 15, which unfortunately for me, is the exact time period that I am currently experiencing. This means that while my section-mates are wining and dining at law firm receptions and preparing for one of the daily Feb-club parties, this humble protagonist is either still in class or trying to tame the mountain of reading that has accumulated the first couple of weeks this semester.

The redeeming virtue of my short-term course, and I really mean redemption because it is easily my favorite law school class, is that this short-term course is “Genetics and the Law,” which just happens to be the very subject I spent four of my best years studying (well, minus the ‘and the law’ part). So, after too many long weeks of contracts and …shudder… Civ Pro that made me reexamine my reasons for packing up and traveling all this way to study law in the first place, I now feel like I’m back in the good ‘ol gene-splicin, chromosome isolatin’ and florescent in-situ hybridizin’ days of degrees past. Ok, to be honest, the only thing that my class has isolated is ourselves for a couple of hours each day. But the point is that we’re busy discussing the latest genetic issues, from genetic discrimination to non-medical sex selection to pre-marital screening. So, if anyone out there is thinking of marriage (or are just worried that their not-always-platonic Feb-club antics might catch up with them) and is wondering if they and their partner are genetically compatible, give me a shout, and I’ll be sure to help you out. Or, at least engage you in an intellectually stimulating and rousing debate about the ethical and legal implications of discovering said compatibility.

And if Section J ever manages to set up a mixer with UVa’s genetics students and are wanting to do a little non-medical sex selection of their own, I suggest they try this pick-up line, (compliments of Train): “If I were an enzyme, I’d be an alpha-helicase, so I could unzip your genes.” (You see, in order for DNA to undergo its usual semi-conservative replication cycle, the double helix must first be denatured and the phosfodiester bonds between adenine and thymine, as well as cytosine and guanine, must be decoupled in order for the DNA polymerase II to attach and initiate the 5’ to 3’strand elongation that ultimately results in the complete synthesis of an new but identical DNA molecule. Alpha-helicase is the enzyme that provides this essential function, so although it is not the most accurate way of phrasing it, it not incorrect to say that the enzyme performs the above-mentioned “unzipping” of a person’s genes.)